10th – Stuck Between Trees & Rocks

Uff we woke up this morning due to huge flashes of lightening and big rumbles of thunder, pretty much right over us. I was trying not to get upset as I didn’t want our boat tour to be cancelled today so we got ourselves ready and were waiting by reception by 8.10. 8.15 came and went, 8.20… at 8.30 a minivan trundled to a halt in front of us and the doors opened. Nobody got out as it was pissing it down but it said ecotour Milford Sound on the side so we jumped aboard. We sat at the spare seats at the front behind the driver who turned round and introduced himself as Simon. As we left he told us we should get going anyway but the road we needed was already closed due to the storm but that there’d be update at 10am. OK, fingers crossed. The rain didn’t go away and actually got a bit worse as we drove what would have been a very scenic drive had it have been clear weather.  We learnt that Simon was a conservationist who had been very involved, and still was, with predator control (the whole stoat, weasel, ferret, possum problem), kiwi research, bird and bat conservation etc… he had some amazing stories! Before we got to the part of the road that was closed we were passing through a heavily forested area with huge thick tall trees still with pouring rain when suddenly we came to a halt behind a queue of traffic. How random. Well not so in these conditions… turns out some trees had fallen up ahead and further on from them a load of rocks had come down from the mountain in the storm so we were going to be stuck for 1-3hours. What a time frame. .. we and the Americans and Germans in the bus decided to sit it out for a bit. Simon was entertaining us royally with his funny and interesting stories, so we got out our snacks and got comfy. The weather was starring to clear so we got a bit of sun through the window anyway. After maybe an hour and a half, the yellow truck came past and said we should be moving soon so we were like yay! We’d also learnt that behind us only about 1km more trees had fallen so we were trapped anyway. A little scary to be honest seeing as we were sitting in a forest. And of course Simon was enjoying telling us his horror stories.

Eventually we got through the wreckage and the weather had cleared enough to see the sunshine through the clouds so everything was glistening and sparkling. We had to wait another 45 mins when we arrived to the dock for our boat to come back from another tour but hey nobody minded. Finally we all piled on and everyone pretty much went and grabbed their free pitta wrap (which was delicious and humungous) and helped themselves to the free unlimited tea. Even Javi had one before he realised he could pay for a coffee. Off the boat went and we sailed through what was a bit like a mini Halong Bay, unfortunately with low cloud so you couldn’t see half of the steep mountains and ziri miri.  We went past a ton of different waterfalls and took lots of photos and then at one of the biggest most spray-ey one the captain  warned he’d be closing the doors so anyone on deck be ready for a shower. Javi stayed outside and came back in soaked to the bone haha, as did the rest of the people who decided to stay out when the captain all but drove into the waterfall. We saw a few fur seals on a rock on the loop back and trusted that the Tasman sea was out there on the other side of the sheet of white cloud blocking the way out of the fjord.

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Back on dryish land we hopped back in the bus and made quick time getting home. As we were so delayed on the way there Simon had to let his daughter know he wasn’t going to be home in time to take her swimming, but he still stopped off a couple of times to show us a pretty lake. I forgot to mention this crazy arse tunnel we went through to pass through a mountain – Homer Tunnel it’s called and it was built as a single track, gravel road tunnel which opened in 1954. Today the walls are still unlined granite from the mountain, there is electricity (but it’s pretty much pitch black) and it is enlarged to be just big enough for two tiny cars pass each other … but not really! It’s traffic light controlled so single file traffic and a bit scary but fun. It’s only 1.2km but when you’re in it feels like much longer, recently chiseled out tunnel!

We were the last to be dropped off by our lovely Simon and he was so chuffed by our tip I wanted to give him a hug! Such a great guy and we left him a great review for the tour because he seriously made it a great day. When we went into reception to confirm we wanted to stay another night there was a long confusion as there was another Sam Smith from the UK staying that night too, also stayed the night before as well. .. the girl on the computer almost gave me their registration plate so I could go meet this person but she decided that was illegal so didn’t in the end. Oh and this holiday has been the first place ever to say everytime I give my name, oh like the singer! I guess he’s bigger over here than in spain!

We cooked up a quick dinner and crashed into bed not too much longer after. It’d been a long day and tomoro was our skydive waaaah!

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