Tuesday, March 5, 2013

New Zealand - Kayaking Milford Sound (Day 15)

Favorite day of our honeymoon. Christmas Day. One of my best days in all of my days. Think I enjoyed myself in Milford Sound? If you do one thing in New Zealand (and if you are reasonably fit because this trip is somewhat exhausting), kayak the length of Milford Sound with Rosco's Milford Kayaks

We signed up for the Morning Glory trip that begins at 6am at Milford Sound Lodge (where we were staying). Our guide, Adam, was terrific and super pumped considering it was 6am on Christmas Day! Adam drove us to the launching spot, where they had all the gear we would ever need and some incredible kayaks! I've never rented kayaks this nice. It helped that the water was like glass when we first began, but these kayaks seriously cut through the water like it wasn't even there. Pretty awesome. 

Milford Sound at sunrise

We started out with a real easy paddle and learning quite a bit about the sound. Adam was really knowledgeable and we definitely had an opportunity to dork out things like identifying bird calls and learning the reason for the dark color of the water (tannins from the vegetation that are brought down the steep mountain walls during heavy rainfall).

As we were heading toward Stirling Falls (we could see it but it was 9km from where we were!), we spotted some spouts of water off in the distance. Adam was sure it was a pod of Southern Bottlenose Dolphins, which he says sometimes are seen in the sound but he doesn't see them very often. We paddled hard to reach the dolphins and managed to get there. We ended up paddling more than intended that day because we turned ourselves in the direction the dolphins were heading and played with them for a bit.

I didn't take my camera out until the very end of our adventure with the dolphins because it was just so incredible. Our boat actually made contact with one of the dolphins and these beautiful animals were huge! About the size of our kayaks. I have a permanent image stuck in my brain of looking out to the right side of my kayak and seeing the most beautiful creature in the world swimming along right next to me in the water. I have goosebumps over two months later.

After the dolphins, I didn't really care what else we saw on our kayak tour. It made my day. However, the fun didn't stop. Next up was the sea otters, and we continued seeing many of them for the remainder of our paddle. The day winds (winds from the Tasman Sea that increase in strength as they are funneled through the sound) picked up in the sound mid-morning which meant that the water got a lot rougher. We rushed through the second half of the trip to make sure we didn't get stuck in water that was too rough. However, the trip wasn't complete without paddling right under Stirling Falls (155m tall; 508 ft). It was a little scary but mostly just invigorating.

Allyson and me at the mouth of the sound (everything we had paddled is behind us) and about to enter the Tasman Sea. 

Anita Bay (by St. Anne's Point) of the Tasman Sea

When we reached Anita Bay we hung out for awhile waiting for the Sea Shuttle (water taxi) to take us back. When the boat got there, everyone in our group jumped off the top of the boat and took a swim in the (freezing) Tasman Sea. It was just such an incredible experience! The shuttle ride back was super choppy and we tackled some big waves, but it was fun to take in all that we had accomplished that morning. 

The boat taxi we took the whole length of the sound back to where we began. 

This was one of those mornings that afterward I thought...my life is not the same as it was before I did this. Allyson and I were both pretty giddy about the experience. We took some time to call our families and wish them a Merry Christmas (even though it was only Christmas Eve in the US) and then relaxed for the afternoon. 

I'd like to say that we got "dressed up" (I know we don't look that fancy, but this was the fanciest we'd dressed for the whole trip) to go out for a nice Christmas dinner. And we thought that might be what we were doing. However, we basically hiked to dinner in our nice clothes and then had the worst meal either one of us had ever had in our lives at the Blue Duck Cafe. In all fairness, this place isn't trying to be nice. I think we just misunderstood, given that they had advertised a 3-course dinner for $50. No chance this was going to ruin our day though. We laughed so hard we cried because the meal was so awful and fell asleep almost as soon as we got back to our chalet (ok...that may have just been me) with big smiles on our faces. 

No comments:

Post a Comment