The Sparks New Zealand Development Group rolled out of Invercargill early Wednesday morning, well before the sun came up in order to catch a bus from Te Anau to a destination Rudyard Kipling once called “the eighth wonder of the world”: Milford Sound. Milford Sound is inaccurately named, as it is actually a fjord. Formed by a glacier’s relentless push forward and eventual recession, Milford Sound is over 1600 feet deep and surround by mountains and cliffs that climb to more than a mile high straight from the waters surface. Milford Sound is a remote location, with one road in and out. When our group boarded the tour bus in Te Anau at 8:45, few knew what beautiful sights they were in for over the 120km drive through Fiordland National Park to our waiting cruise ship, but they quickly were impressed by the stunning landscapes featuring rocky snow capped peaks rising sharply from grassy plains. According to our tour guide, on this particular day the weather would cooperate and give us Milford Sound at its best–I guess it takes a foot of rain and high winds to bring out the best in the park. Once aboard the cruise the group, being accustomed to water as they are, reveled in the rolling seas that were a result of near 100 mph winds. The top deck was open for much of the cruise (until wind blew a lifeboat loose from its stay) and the Sparks group took some of mother nature’s strongest blows on the bow of the open deck. There were many comments about how similar the cruise was to a roller coaster. Once the ship docked and we were on our way back to Te Anau, many noted that they had never seen something so naturally impressive.
Once unloaded from the tour bus, we loaded back into our own van and moved the road trip on down the road to Queenstown, and not a moment too soon as the one road in and out of Milford was closed just two hours after we left due to high winds and a forecasted dumping of snow that had already started falling on our way out.