The girl from Dundee is, fortunately for me, on the trip to Milford Sound, so I am able to follow her to the bus station and manage to get on her 7am departure to New Zealand’s most iconic natural beauty. I am lucky, to be honest, because with the rugby tomorrow and a bus booked to the north west the following day, I would otherwise have missed out on this most beautiful of places.
After a couple of hours’ kip we reach Te Anau, ‘the gateway to Milford Sound’. From here Dion, our driver (or ‘Big D’ as he likes to be called) tells us that “Now hey, look guys, this is where our journey really begins today. So look, now, hey guys, stay awake because this really is an awesome experience. I will be back on the mike in five minutes. Just give you guys a break from me for a minute or two. Awesome.” Big D must be about fifty.
Big D is absolutely correct though. It is awesome. Awesome is a crap word but it is one of the many right words to use in regard to the road into the Fjordland National Park. Well, you could also say majestic; epic; world class; awe inspiring.
And then we begin our descent down into the fjord, witnessing three avalanches as we follow the winding deserted road. This pass was closed during the winter months in previous decades because of the severe avalanche risk, but today it only tends to be closed a few days per winter when the risk is greatest.
As if all of this isn't incredible enough we find our boat being followed by five dolphins. The captain tells us it is highly unusual for the boat to be followed for a full 45 minutes back to shore, as the dolphins pull of all kinds of jumps and tricks behind and at the side of the boat.