The last few days with our host in Queenstown went like any other WWOOF days, we got up did some raking or clearing muck from ponds and then had the afternoons free. One of the afternoons we went into Arrowtown. It’s a small little former gold town that has survived because of tourism. It has quaint old buildings that have been converted into jade, jewelry, cafes, and souvenirs shops. We wandered around and found a historical walk that took us through the ruins and reconstructions of the old China Town in the area. During the gold rush in Arrowtown, and a bit after it had slowed, there was a booming Chinese population (and by booming I mean by percentage of people not actual numbers). It was interesting to see how small, dark and functional their houses were. There were plaques along the way showing pictures of how it had looked. In these pictures were many gardens. The Chinese population, after gold stopped being found, planted gardens for their own use and to sell. They were the vegetable growers of the town.
After that nice stroll we found a little cafe where we had a warming cup of tea and scone. The day was brisk and autumn was in the air. It was wonderful. The poplars were yellow green and the few oaks or maples where turning red. I have missed autumn! Too bad it leads to winter and I didn’t pack for winter….
Anyway that was one of our final afternoons WWOOFing in Queenstown. We left a gracious host thanking us for all we had done. We had to shout a goodbye to Jeremy, he was at the very top of a tree trimming it, and then we were on our way.
Nearly everyone in New Zealand has said that Milford Sound is a “must see”. Neither of us really had any idea what it was except that it was a sound in a fjiordland that is supposed to be beautiful and have lots of waterfalls. So we went. The drive to Milford Sound was beautiful. There were rolling plains filled with tall golden grasses, crystal clear lakes and sheer rock faces. We stopped at the Chasm, which is just that. A short trail takes you to a bridge built over a narrow chasm gouged out over how every many hundreds of years to create this deep narrow channel through stone. The water roared. It’s always amazing to see the power of water.
We continued on until we reached a traffic signal on red at the end of a tunnel through a mountain. The Homer Tunnel to be exact (can’t forget that when you come from Springfield). The tunnel was 1 km or so. We waited a good while for the tunnel to clear- it’s a one way deal- and then entered the darkness. It was scary. It was a fairly steep descent and I was driving. My foot was on the break the whole time, but I didn’t ever keep to the 30km speed limit. It was a drop into darkness. There were overhead lights, but they did little to illuminate the way. I was relieved to see the light at the end. Truly.
The tunnel spit us out a little ways down a mountain, but we still had a ways to go till we reached the plans below. Here were some very sheer cliff faces and hair pin turns. I didn’t take in too much of the scenery because I was focused on driving.
We drove into Milford with little to-do. The road just kind of ended in a parking lot near an airport and a boat launch. We stepped out of the car to the roar of airplanes taking off and landing. It was not a good first impression. After a bit of hunting we found a map of the area. Two walks. One that was twenty minutes long. The others trail head was impossible to find.
Bottom line is, unless you are willing to pay a lot of money for a cruise or airplane ride, there isn’t really anything to see in Milford Sound. Except loads of tourists, planes and boats. I was not impressed. I am still not impressed. Before I suggest to any one to go there, I will tell them they should look it up online and decide for themselves if its worth the effort and money. Sorry Milford Sound fans. That’s just my opinion.