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Milford Sound runs 15 kilometres inland from the Tasman Sea at Dale Point - the mouth of the fiord - and is surrounded by sheer rock faces that rise 1,200 metres or more on either side. The Sound is known as the wettest inhabited place in New Zealand and one of the wettest in the world. Rainfall can reach 250mm during a span of 24 hours creating dozens of temporary waterfalls cascading down the cliff faces. Smaller falls from such heights may never reach the bottom of the sound, drifting away in the wind.

What an amazing sight it must be on a wet and windy day. We had a good rain fall although it landed as snow, an unusual event for early November (their spring time). We turned up at Milford sound around midday after the amazing drive from Te Anau into Fiordland National Park, passing through Homer Tunnel and coasting all the way down to the shoreline car park. What a vista, a scene that truly takes your breath away. It’s not hard to see why Rudyard Kipling had previously called it the eighth Wonder of the World. Back at the camper van with a plan of action on the cards a warden pulls up in the now nearly empty car park and says “Hey bro, I’d leave Milford sound no later than 3 O’clock because the tunnel will have disappeared by then” Heavy snow falls were forecasted and being a landscape photographer this was nothing but music to my ears.

We asked for permission to stay in the sound with the warden giving us the okay, perhaps if we didn’t have the camper full of goods it would be a different story altogether. Big things where promised for the next day although it was the morning after that when this photograph was created. This is a morning that will stay with me forever. The wiping of the condensation from the window at 5:10am to reveal a snow caped mitre peak looking down on us in the cold first light, a sight that made me instantly wide awake before clambering out the van half dressed. The dawn chorus competing with the roar of Lady Bowen Falls; and to top it all off no boats, no planes, no coaches and no other vehicles. Apart from a handful of sleeping wardens there was no other soul’s around. Milford looked incredible with mist wafting around the sound. Small pockets of calmness briefly came about allowing for the snow capped peaks to be reflected in the salty water. This magic lasted 20-30 minutes before it all socked in with just the bases of the mountains to show.

Copyright Notice © 2012 Russell Pike


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