Our flight path took us around Lake Wakatipu to Glenorchy where you could see the convergence of two rivers and the delta that fed into the lake with rich farmlands along it. From there, we took to the mountains and valleys of Mount Aspiring National Park and crossed into the snow capped ridges and glacier lakes of Fjordland National Park.
Peter pointed out a variety of interesting things, much of which we forgot because, we believe, your short term memory stops working when your jaw drops below your shoulders. Each lake you flew over with a waterfall running into was matched shortly after by a lake with a waterfall running out of it. Some of them seemed so precariously perched in their mountainous setting, you wonder how they keep from draining down the side.
Like all natural wonders, certain features earn more press than others. Such was the case with Milford Sound. Rahotu, also popularly called Mitre Peak, rises straight up out of the water of the fjord 5500 feet. It is actually part of 5 peaks yet appears from many viewpoints to stand alone.
So it does make sense to get out on the water to appreciate the grandeur of this place. With the Fly-Cruise-Fly plan, that’s exactly how it works. You take in the bird’s eye view, land at the tiny Milford Sound airport, take a bus about 2 minutes over to the ferry terminal, board a sightseeing catamaran, and take in a fur seal’s view. Unless you’re spending all your time looking at the rather cute New Zealand fur seals.
Alas, the 1 1/2 hour boat cruise came to an end and we were escorted back to our puddle jumper for a return journey via the Sutherland Falls, a spectacular fall of 1900 feet. Wow! Totally made it worth the bumps we ran into as we puttered across these unforgettable mountain ranges on our way back to Queenstown airport.