Day 123 (Sept. 21st) Fiordlands ~ A cruise through Milford Sound

Fiordland – Scandinavian word for steep valley (fjord)

MIlford Sound Cliffs

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Milford Road Map

A great object lesson – The Plimsoll Line

Right before we boarded the ship, Bob pointed out the plimsoll lines on the side of it. These markings tell you how much weight you can put on a ship to ensure a safe sailing. The salt in the ocean makes ships more bouyant so you can load more.  Fresh water lakes limit the amount you can put on the ship/boat.  Elder Holland used this as allegory to life in a speech he gave.

We all have our “plimsoll line” or our limits and to be mindful not to put more self-inflicted burden on ourselves than we can manage.

MIlford Sound Plimsoll Line on Boat

Milford Sound was a sensory overload from the time we entered the park.  We decided to spring for the bus ride because the roads are so narrow and Bob would have missed most of the scenery.  Best decision of the day…besides going to Milford Sound of course.

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These pictures below were taken on our way  the Sound…

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The tourism industry has found all kinds of ways to add adventure to your experience. We couldn’t tell what the pod was for hanging below this helicopter.

MIlford Sound close up of helicopterMIlford Sound Drive up with treers

This is the tunnel we went through to get to the Sound.  The road was rough and the roof leaked!  Just a bit scary when you’re in a large touring bus!

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The Homer Tunnel is a 1.2 km (0.75 miles) long road tunnel in the Fiordland region of the South Island of New Zealand, opened in 1953. New Zealand State Highway 94 passes through the tunnel, linking Milford Sound to Te Anau and Queenstown, by piercing the Darran Mountain range at the Homer Saddle.

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I wanted to find a video to help explain to my grandchildren what a glacier was.  The change they make over millions of years to the planet are not only astonishing but breathtakingly beautiful!

Glaciers leave only rock cliffs with no vegetation and yet Milford Sound had a lush green covering of vegetation.  This lichen covered stone is why.  The mineral allows moss to grow on it.  The moss can hold a seed and the seed sprouts and finds cracks for its roots and a tree is born.  This is why, with no soil on the fiords, plants can still grow.

MIlford Sound - Lichen growing on stone in forest

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At Milford Sound

If you look closely you will see the horizontal lines made by the glaciers millions of years ago.  To witness these markings is like being transported back in time.

MIlford Sound Fiordland Cliffs with waterfall

I am naming this a “Cloud Bridge”.  The weather forecasted clear blue skies.

 I’m glad they were wrong.

MIlford Sound cloud bridge

They claim the remains of this glacier, pictured in the middle, is around 200M years old.

MIlford Sound Glacier

This is just the “Cloud Bridge” from different distances.

This is a Kākāpō.  

This is the only parrot to survive the cold and altitude of Milford Sound.

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We saw one on our way the Sound!  He was either was bathing or had an itch…

MIlford Sound Kakapo

Another mark of a glacier is the U shaped valleys they leave in their path.

MIlford Sound Glacier U shape bowls

The Milford Sound glacier eventually made its way to the ocean which then filled the basin made by the glacier.  Because the Sound receives the highest rainfall in the world the water is actually part ocean, part lake, each having their own ecosystem.  Rain on top, sea water on the bottom.

MIlford Sound meets ocean

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Length – 9.94 miles – Average Depth – 1082.68 Ft. – Widest Point 1.2 Miles

Narrowest Point – 1.2 Miles – Entrance -1804 Ft. – Rainfall – 21.52 Ft.

Mean Winter Temp –  34 F – Mean Summer Temp – 64 F

(This conversion was more for me than anyone else!)

These are the seals that got kicked out by the dominant males for this years mating season.  You can see that they were very bummed out…

This is the longest, always running, waterfall in the world.  You cannot see it but there is a monstrous mountain behind it that feeds it.  The area at the base was the original cemetery for the first settlers.  The legend is that they buried them standing up and facing the waterfall so they could enjoy the view for eternity.

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“All Creatures of our God and King”

I’m admittedly an emotional person.  I feel deeply in moments like this.  Especially when it carries with it such history from millions of years ago.  I found myself quietly humming the tune “All Creatures of our God and King”.  I could only remember the first line:

All creatures of our God and King
Lift up your voices and with us sing
Alleluia, alleluia

I quietly hummed my way through this song over and over again as I watched in awe the majestic creation we call earth and silently wiped away tears along the way.  The earth is, according to science, 4.5 billion years old.  While touring Milford Sound I began to realize the incredible length of time it took to first, create the design of the earth and then create the earth itself.  Earth was the home God was creating for us…it was all for us.  God, in his tender mercies, spent billions of years curating this space for his children so that we could have a place to call home for only a few thousand years. The math reveals our time on earth as .00000333 years compared to the 4.5 billion years if you consider that Adam and Eve arrived 6,000 years ago.  Wikipedia claims the first homo sapiens arriving from Africa 200k years ago.  Either way…it is still a fractions.  We are here for an almost immeasurable amount of time.  What kind of magnificent love is that!

Angels sent this song to my memory as a witness that I am not alone, that the heavens are aware of me. This was an important moment, reminding me of my eternal connection.   I realized the tremendous patience it took to get this earth thing right and His unwavering love for all of us.  This will forever be my “Milford Sound” hymn.

Bob and Christi at Milford Sound

All creatures of our God and king
Lift up your voice and with us sing
Alleluia, alleluia
Thou burning sun with golden beam
Thou silver moon with softer gleam
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia,

Thou rushing wind that art so strong
Ye clouds that sail in heaven a long
Alleluia, alleluia
Thou rising morn in praise rejoice
Ye light of evening find a voice
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia,

Thou flowing water pure and clear
Make music for thy Lord to hear
Alleluia, alleluia
Thou fire so masterful and bright
That gives to man both warmth and light
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia,

After a long day of travel and sightseeing we turned the corner to Queenstown and saw this sunset…need I say more?

Sunset in Queenstown best pic

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Alleluia

“God Be Praised”

 

 

 

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