Russell Kirkpatrick's Journal
Wish I could tell you how good that was. I knew it would be good, but I had no idea it would be magnificent.
Stuart agrees - he is gobsmacked. We're going around with silly grins on our faces and speaking in silly French accents like a couple of schoolchildren.
Didn't begin so well - the flight was delayed. But at 11 we set off, and the moment the plane lifted off the vistas opened up for us. I got a shot of the Remarkables with Lake Johnson in the foreground. Up and over the mountain ranges we went, and I took a good photo of the Hollyford Valley halfway between Queenstown and Milford. We flew straight at Mt Tutoko, the highest in Fiordland at just under 3000 metres, and it seemed so close we felt we could reach out and touch it.
We flew to the coast, affording a glance back at Tutoko, and then down Milford Sound to the airstrip.
Then the money shot - Mitre Peak, the most photographed mountain in New Zealand.
The cruise lasted two hours. I must have done it a dozen times, but never in mid-winter, and it was freeeeeezing. But good. Photos are largely a waste of time. 2000 metre mountains rise straight from the ocean, and you sail in between them. Waterfalls galore, both Bowen and Stirling falls are over 150 metres tall. This is what waterfalls should look like, Australia! (Even then, it's been dry recently and they only have about a quarter of their normal flow.) We saw seals too.
After the cruise came the flight home and my real treat. I told the pilot I was a fantasy author, and as the centrepiece of my second book I'd written about a lake above a waterfall where the Jugom Ark is found, based on Sutherland Falls and Lake Quill near to Milford. He agreed, for the price of the book - I'll send it to him - to take us there on the way home. I wrote about it but I've never seen it - until today! He took us right to the lake and flew us all around it. Magnificent!
The rest of the flight home was beautiful, with the view to the north of Lake Wakatipu, encompassing yesterday's Dart River Safari, the bst moment. All finished by 3.30pm.Gobsmacked, I say.
We hitch-hiked into Milford (there's part of the sound named after an ancestor of mine who sailed with Capt Cook!) on a brilliantly clear day...
Ah, to be young and in NZ again.
Hehe, did you tell the poor bugger that its the middle book of the trilogy? Way to sell copies Russell ;-)