Fjordland, New Zealand South Island
05.11.2010 - 05.11.2010 19 °C
A pleasant day out to cruise around the world famous Milford Sound fjordland. Dramatic limestone peaks rising from the sea with waterfalls cascading down them, what is not to like? Yes it was pretty and worthwhile a visit, but I am not sure it was worth such a long day on the coach traversing the alps to get there. For me the highlight of the day, beyond the scenery, was seeing the world’s only alpine parrot in the wild, my mission to spot native New Zealand wildlife was on track
Anyway, what became really obvious was the effect the Southern Alps mountain range has on the weather systems in NZ. To the West of the South Island lies the Tasman sea, a vast expanse of ocean separating NZ and Australia. A lot of water, a lot of clouds build up but they are trapped on the West side by the mountains. This creates a huge weather divide in New Zealand, the East being generally lovely dry and sunny, the West pretty soggy. We left Queenstown in perfect sunshine and by the time we arrived at the Homer tunnel, that takes you through the mountains to the fjords, our cruise was being threatened by rain.
It was around the tunnel that we spotted the Kea parrot. New Zealand is the only place in the world to see these unusual alpine parrots and i immediately fell for these funny cheeky buggers. They were climbing all over our coach trying to pull the rubber off the windscreen wipers! We stopped to fill our water bottles with glacial stream water, as you do, and were approached and followed by the tame cheeky birds! Amazing animals, loved them.
It seemed the weather gods were smiling on us today though as, as we boarded the boat for the Milford Sound cruise, the clouds cleared a bit and we even had some sunshine!