A Dark New Year’s Day at Milford Sound

The first morning of the new year was cool, quite a chance from the 35 °C (95 °F) temperature of the previous day.

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We ate our $2 pies and some cherries for breakfast.
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I was still unable to get an internet connection on the netbook.

I packed light for the tour bus, remembering the inconvenience of portaging everything with me the previous day. I just had a reusable shopping bag with my jacket, diary, and some snacks, with the intention of putting it in the overhead rack on the bus.

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It was a different kind of bus from the previous day. Overhead windows, but that meant no overhead racks. So my bag had to sit in my lap again. No bathroom. But they did have wi-fi. Darn, I should have brought the netbook.
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Counting all the sheep put everyone to sleep.
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This was a stop at Mirror Lakes, where there was a 5-minute boardwalk. The lakes were calm, but more like bog puddles. Think of the swamp leading to Mordor. I’m not going to bother posting a picture.
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There was a bathroom stop at Te Arau. There was a gift shop, cafe, and public bathrooms, which were $1. Forget it, I’ll hold it. The next bathroom stop had a line coming out the door, even on the Men’s, and that was just for the long trough. Probably more guys could have fit at once, but there’s sort of an unspoken rule that you shouldn’t be touching the guy next to you.
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The bus was bouncy, and it was hard to get a good picture of anything while we were moving. It was also hard to journal with a paper notebook. Maybe blogging from the bus wouldn’t have worked, anyway. Besides, once we got to the Fjordlands National Park, the driver turned off the wi-fi, saying that internet was spotty in the area.
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It was raining in various degrees all the way to Milford.
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We passed through lots of rain forest, then sub-arctic and arctic land as the elevation changed. Roads were somewhat rough, and the pictures we tried to take of the numerous temporary waterfalls turned out terrible. The only reason this picture wasn’t shaky was that we were stopped waiting for a line of cars going through a 1.2 km one-lane tunnel.
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It was getting dark as we were queued up for the boat. This isn’t our boat – ours was the Milford Mariner, one berth over.
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So now we’re on the ship. It’s getting ridiculously dark. Remember, this is 2:30 in the afternoon, in summer. Locals said it wasn’t usually this dark, and blamed it on smoke from the Australian bush fires. Really? A thousand miles away?
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A lovely sack lunch was included with our tour. Ham and cheese sandwich with lettuce and tomato, bag of chips, bag of nuts, apple (crisp and sweet), cheese and crackers, cookie (gluten-free, not that good), and chocolate bar. There was also a coffee machine with a variety of options (I got a mochachino).
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This is the packet of nuts. Almonds, Pecans, Macadamias, Cashews, Hazelnuts. Noticably absent are peanuts.
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Not the best conditions for taking pictures, never mind the rain and wind on deck.
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As we got close to the edge of Milford Sound, we encountered the waves of the Tasman Sea. I was thankful that Merrianne had brought Bonine, and that I had taken one on the bus. And moreover, I spent a lot of time on deck, even in the wind and rain. Not everyone had it so good. I saw a woman in the cabin resting her head on her palm. I could only imagine what she must have been feeling.

On the bus ride back, we stopped again in Te Arau, and the driver said it was okay to use the Cafe toilets. What toilets? Turned out there was an unmarked door. The rest of the ride was fast, rough, and mostly uneventful. We hit a fog bank at one point, but I had confidence that the bus driver knew the road well. Many just zoned out for a few hours. There was no internet. Merrianne and I tried to take pictures of Red Deer herds in paddocks, but had no luck. It’s just like actual hunting, except wth a camera. You never know when they’re coming up, so have to keep your camera ready, set with flash off, and infinity focus. And just when you turn the camera off to give up, more deer appear. I pretty much drained my battery, and hadn’t packed any spares. It was dark when we got back, although normally it wouldn’t have been at 8:30 pm on New Year’s Day. Blame the smoke.

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Back at the room in Queenstown, I found that I could use my burner phone to connect to the wi-fi, then tether the netbook to it to get internet. But the speed was still terrible. About 90 seconds to load a page from pididu.com with NO images. Too slow for uploading a post.

Merrianne just had some yogurt and cherries, and I had my last pie (Goat), and a croissant sandwich that we had in the fridge. I was too tired to blog, but decided that the next day, I would blog offline on my RavenPlus program. As of this moment, I’m lagging one to two days in blogging. This kind of touring just drains me.

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