Driving on the Left & Milford Sound
For my next adventure, I chose to go to Milford Sound. Milford Sound is one of the top natural destinations in New Zealand. It actually isn’t a sound but a fjord. According to Wikipedia, a fjord is a long, narrow inlet with steep sides or cliffs, created by glacial erosion.
Milford ‘Sound’ was created by massive glaciers that moved from high up in the mountains to the sea. With the retreat of glaciers in the last ice age, the empty void was filled in with seawater. The result is a stunning inlet with massive mountain walls and cliffs on each side. The average depth of Milford sound is 330 meters or approximately 1082 feet. Interestingly, at the end where the sound meets the Tasmen Sea, the sound averages only 16 meters deep. As the glacier retreated during the last ice age, it dropped debris at the glacier’s furthest point of its extension. The result is about 800 feet of rock piled beneath the Tasman Sea right at the entrance of the sound.
Typically, to get to Milford Sound you have to take a 8 hour round trip bus ride. As the crow flies, Milford Sound is only about 75km from Queenstown. But because of an immense mountain range between the sound and Queenstown, the road goes around the mountain range for a total one way drive of 287km. I’ve had enough buses. Since I had 3 people willing to go, for roughly the same price, I could rent a car and drive there myself. So Clara, Andrew (Canadian guy), and myself boarded a nice Toyota Corolla and headed to Milford Sound. Coming to New Zealand, I was terrified of two things. 1. $&%&£ – will discuss in a different blog post 2. Driving on the Left Side of the Road.
Luckily, I made it, though it took me a good hour before I finally felt comfortable driving. They don’t believe in stop lights in New Zealand. Instead they have roundabouts. Going clockwise on them is quite unsettling. The ride there was beautiful, and it was aided by the fact that the car had an iPhone plug in. Of course, the only music I had on my phone was country. Germans hate country.
Upon arriving to Milford Sound, we took a two hour boat cruise around the sound. Afterwards, we drove back. The whole drive was approx. 550 km. It took all day and a tank of gas. New Zealand is so desolate that on the way back we saw a total of 2 gas stations, both of which were closed. We made it back on fumes. Gas here is also expensive. The total fill up was about $68 US dollars.