|March 7, 2007
The weather has not been great. After a day of watching, dark clouds and stormy seas that sent many to the ship's doctor for "shots" to cure seasickness we closed on the New Zealand coast and our narrated tour of Fiordland National Park. We had been warned that Fiordland attracts the greatest rainfall of any area of New Zealand (it rains 200 days each year, and Milford Sound gets about 8 meters per year!!!), the area lived up to its reputation. Although the seas calmed considerably once we entered each of the three fiords, the rain continued most of the day, much of it very intense and driving most of us would be photographers to compete for the limited spaces where we could get good shots while remaining undercover. The rain also exacerbated the colder temperatures more reminiscent of a Vancouver fall. In fact not many of us had sufficient cold weather gear to really enjoy the spectacular views.
However, looking past all the bad weather, the day was quite enjoyable.
As mentioned we began the day entering and travelling up Milford Sound at about 8:00 a.m. Then, as only a big cruise ship can do, we stopped at the end of the fiord, spun around and we headed right back out the way we came, about a 1½ to 2 hour trip in total. The rain stayed with us the entire way, so the impact wasn't quite as dramatic as it clearly could have been. Many of the mountain tops were covered with low cloud, and visibility was quite restricted. That being said the channels were so narrow, we often felt we could reach out and touch the sheer rock faces and pluck some of the plants growing everywhere right from the cliffs. Once we were moving back into open waters again, the seas began churning quite heavily.
At about noon, 100 or so kilometres further down the coast we once again headed inland (can you do that on a ship?), this time entering Thompson Sound circled around a large mass of land (Secretary Island), and exited through Doubtful Sound. This time I opted to stay in my cabin and take advantage of the roof covering a good chunk of my cabin. But as it turned out the rain all but stopped as we entered the channel, and all the clouds remained thick and close to the ground we even saw some very brief breaks revealing the sky was in fact still blue up there somewhere.
Finally mid afternoon we entered Dusky Sound, approximately 75 km. further along the Tasman Sea and again the rains stopped to allow fairly good views of what were beautiful every bit as dramatic, in their own way, as a trip through the Canadian Rockies. I know each of us will remember this day for many years to come, and hopefully it won't be all because of the bad weather!
As the day ends, we're once again crusing through "moderate" to "rough" seas around the southernmost tip of New Zealand (the closest many of us will ever get to Antartica) and hopefully heading to calmer seas and warmer weather.