Lica arrived on her flight from Seattle to meet the four of us in Queenstown. Kat, Mitch, Frank, and I had been enjoying our time together in New Zealand for two weeks at this point. We planned a trip to Milford Sound for our first full day with Lica. But after all the driving we had done over the last few days, I wasn’t really in the mood for the 3+ hours each way on the bus up there and back. Mitch said it was the one thing he really wanted to see in New Zealand, and everyone else thought it was important to see, so I gave in.
Frank and his sister were texting regarding our plans, she said the name of the place was familiar to her. She looked online and discovered part of the most recent Aliens movie had been filmed there. I am a huge fan of the Alien franchise and once I heard that the opening sequences of Alien Covenant had been filmed here, I was a lot more excited about the trip then I was before.
Early that morning we hustled our way through rain and gusty winds to the meeting point to catch the bus for the drive up into the mountains. The bus had a glass roof to better see the mountains as you drove up, however, our morning was cloudy and rainy and not great for that visual effect. Our driver Jeremy, who reminded me of the author John Greene, two biggest desires that day was to keep us on schedule and get a beer after we got back. On our drive up we had many picture stops and a few sites to see. At each stop, Jeremy would remind us to be back at the bus at a specific time and would remind everyone that we needed to be mindful of the time if we were going to be able to see all he wanted to show us. A few times a couple of people would be late back to the bus after a stop and he would publicly shame them for there tardiness.
“No concept of other people, Eh?” or “No sense of urgency at all?” he would half-hearted say, all of us knowing it was not half-hearted at all. I guess Jeremy had spoken.
Jeremy was letting us know our lunch choices aboard the ship in the Milford Sound, and I was having the most difficult time understanding what the options were.
“You have a choice of a meat pie, chicken pita or beef pita.” With his accent, the word pita sounded the pit ah, not like Peeta, the way we say it in America. After he began to describe it, the light finally dawned on me what the options were.
The glass roof bus moved through lush green farmlands, old farming buildings and grazing land of sheep and goats along side a cloud covered mountain range. The green beauty of early spring in the foothills began to open up to the jagged peak tops covered with leftover snow from the winter. With every stop of the bus, Jeremy informed us of animals or things to be sure to look for as we all grabbed our phones for pictures.
After 3 and a half hours of driving in our glass topped ride, we arrived at a long one lane tunnel in the side of a large peak. When it was our turn, the bus moved into the hole in the side of the mountain and after a few minutes we came out the other end and arrived at the Milford Sound. The sky had opened up on this side of the peak leaving the clouds behind and the resulting view of the sound was astonishing. The south end of the sound created a natural harbor, once you left the harbor almost all the remaining shoreline shot almost straight up to the top of the peaks.
To say the view was breathtaking is truly an understatement.
We left the bus and Jeremy behind and boarded a boat for a tour of the sound. After checking in and receiving our pit-ah or pie lunch, we all climbed to the top deck of the boat to take in all we could. The sound looked almost like a lake because you could not see where it reached the ocean, your view blocked by all the rough peaks in every direction. The greenery, the wildlife, the waterfalls, and those mountains all around us left me in a state of awe.
As we moved away from the dock and into the heart of the sound, each turn opened up to yet another sweeping view of the beautiful mountains and the sharp drop to the water. I watched as people ran around the boat looking for the best possible selfie angle with each new vista. The boat worked its way to The Tasman Sea where the sound and the ocean meet with much choppier waters. The boat turned around and we begin to make our way back towards the dock and land. The two hour boat ride around the sound seemed to come to an end too quickly, almost in the flash.
After the bus ride back into Queenstown, we had dinner and went directly to bed, exhausted from our glorious day visiting this wonder.
I am a storyteller and I have been my whole life. I don't mean I lie, I just like to tell a tale or two from my experiences... and what is better than to help inspire others to experience something I love.