Thursday, December 25, 2014

Cycling New Zealand 2014 Day 6 : Mildford Sound & A Multinational Dinner

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Cycling New Zealand Day 6: Mildord Sound & A Multinational Dinner
Te Anau & Milford Sound, New Zealand : 20th November 2014
Small Group Ride - Road Trip Te Anua>Milford Sound>Te Anua
The previous evening our co-host "Weatherman" Alistair had advised us that due to bad weather conditions the road back from Milford Sound will be closed in this afternoon.


Scenic spots along the road from Te Anau to Milford Sound (click on map for enlarge view).
The road to Milford Sound is very scenic, with several interesting places to see. So despite the dark skies and worry about rain, we decided to drive up ourselves there for a cruise of the fjord. Having to finish and drive back before they close the road in the early afternoon, we did not have time to stop and enjoy the scenic spots on the way up.


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7:30am - After a quick breakfast we set out for Milford and were greeted by a surrealistic sunrise of beams raying our through the rain clouds hanging low over the snow-capped mountains. It had rain the previous night to create this scene, so rain or no rain it seems the place is still picturesque.

The road took us through the mountains and ...
... pass streams cascading whitely through the rocks ...


... of waterfall crashing down into pools of crystal clear waters ...


... and of green in a snow-white valley.



MILFORD SOUND
9:15am - After driving 117km, we arrive at the Milford Sound Information Centre where we book a cruise of the sound with Mitre Peak at NZD80 per pax.


From the information centre, we took a 1km. walk to a pier at the other side of a small bay. Boats were waiting at the pier to take tourists out and around the fjord (only tour buses are allowed to be parked near the boating pier).
It was drizzling, and the sun was no where to be seen. But this greyish-green landscape of Milford Sound was a different beauty by itself.
As we sailed around, we could see clouds floating low, so low that they were grazing the sides of the mountains. And they were long clouds! Now I understand why New Zealand is called  Aotearoa, the land of the long white clouds.

More photos from Milford Sound:
View from the rear funnel of our boat.


Bridal Veil Falls, so named as it looks like a bride with a trailing veil.


Water from the falls splashing onto the windscreen as the boat approaches very close to one of the falls. The more adventurous went out to be splashed by the falling water (some crazily without raincoats!). Guess where I was during this episode? Yup, I was cosily inside taking this photo. Even inside the boat it was already cold - this tropical monkey IS definitely not going out there to get shivering wet!


Bowen Falls, at a height of 162 metres it's three times the height of the Niagara Falls.
But it still falls far short of the world record of 979 meters held by Angel Falls in Venezuela.


Seals barking on a rocky outcrop.


Stirling Falls falling from a U-shaped valley.
(Click here for more views of Milford Sound, especially those on bright sunny days).


Our cruise boat, the Mitre Peak. It does not look big but had served us well (i.e. kept us safe & dry - most of us anyway).
Our cruise had lasted us almost an hour and a half - now we have to rush back or be stranded here when the road back is closed due to stormy conditions....


11:45am - We just made it to Homer's Tunnel. Here there was a road-block and a friendly ranger noted down our car number and advised us to drive cautiously ahead and not to stop.
Mirror Lakes.
Phew.... we made it in the nick of time as they closed the roads soon after that. I guess there must be another ranger further ahead who must have noted our car number to ensure that we had crossed safely.
Now past the critical zone, we could leisurely drive and made a stop at Mirror Lakes, a series of shallow lakes with mountains in the back ground. It was still drizzling and the mountains were not well reflected in the water.
(Click here to see images of Mirror Lakes).

Back in Te Anua, we stopped at the China City Restaurant and had Curry Noodles, Fried Rice and Tomyam Soup. The food was nothing spectacular, but having missed Asian food, we were not complaining.

... and some local Tui Beer to go with them. This was nice, light and slightly sweet.


A MULTI-NATIONAL DINNER
There we were chatting away with new friends from other countries at Rosie's when Siew Yung had this grand idea. The previous evening, all of us had cooked individually for ourselves, why not cook a little more and share our food. This way, we will get to try dishes from each others' countries.
So, here is our multi-national dinner:
The Danish contingent presenting their food.


Malaysian Chicken Curry.


What a mix! Singaporean Chicken Rice with Mexican Chillies; but it worked - it was delicious.


Chinese Stir-fried Mixed Vegetables.


Spanish Tortillas.


New Zealand Potato Gratin.


American Chocolate Brownies.


English Almond Biscuits.


We had a wonderful time tasting each other's food, trading travelling notes and chatting with each other.
Many thanks to you Rosie and Alistair, for making us feel warmly at home while away from home.



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