Today was the most beautiful day of my trip... Which is saying a lot considering I am in the awe-inspiring country of New Zealand. It was my trip to Milford Sound.
The day was cloudy and drizzling which I was first discouraged by. But the rain in Milford Sound simply creates more beauty.
Away we went, leaving Queenstown. We drove on a road that bordered Wakatipu Lake, the 3rd largest lake in NZ (the biggest on the South Island) and went by the base of the Remarkables Mountain Range. Misty and cloudy they sometimes peeked through, towering and dark in the sky. We continued on, driving on the Devil's Staircase. (That's the second one I have been on since being in this country... How many stairs does the guy need?) we continued on until we took a break at Te Anau for breakfast... I always forget they don't expect you to eat before you go. I always get breakfast too early it seems. There were green paddocks filled with sheep, cows, and red deer along the way.
Then a new set of mountain ranges was ahead of us. Clouded in, peeking through the condensation formed around. We stopped at Mirror Lakes (which really looks like a big pond). We had another stop at a small information center.
After those stops the rest of the journey was incredibly gorgeous. I was thanking God for the work He had made, because there is nothing man could ever create to measure up to the mountains and waterfalls. I almost cried at the beauty of it and I am not a person easily moved in such a way. But when they say that the heavens and earth proclaim God's greatness, they are right. To me, there was no way to look at it and not see His hands at work. Sadly, some people were sleeping, chatting, playing games... Missing out completely on what we were passing. It reminds me of the Steven Curtis Chapman song... "I'm playing Gameboy standing in the middle of the Grand Canyon. I'm eating candy sitting at a gourmet feast. I'm wadin' in a puddle when I could be swimming in the ocean. Tell me, what's the deal with me? Wake up and see the glory..." Those people were missing out. New Zealand is unadulterated nature, hardly touched by civilization, a testament to a time we have lost.
These pictures are just a snippet of what we saw in Hollyford Valley. Carved out by glaciers we drove through mountains like these, all streaming with waterfalls that grew as it rained. And when I say we drive through mountains, I mean it literally. There is a 2.7 km tunnel dug into the mountain to go through to continue on the journey! I can't wait to post more photos on my Facebook page when I get home. I think I took more pictures today than the rest of my days combined.
At the end of the mountains was Milford Sound. I hopped on a boat and we cruised away. I braved the cold wind and stood outside on the deck as we went past mountains, more waterfalls, and seals on the rocks. We got out toward the Tasman Sea and the boat rocked up and down. The older ladies around me held onto the boat and squealed every time the ship bucked under the swells, giving you the feeling like your stomach has turned weightless.
We turned around and headed back and loaded back onto the bus for the return journey. I took more photos, especially of the area after the tunnel, which made me feel like I was in a huge bowl, a basin created by ancient glaciers long gone.
We went back through the gorgeous valley, through forest and rolling hills, dairy and farmland, paddocks of animals, and finally back by Lake Wakatipu to Queenstown.
The obnoxious girls in the dorm have gratefully all gone, replaced by older and quieter gals. I returned from an awe-inspiring day in the rain and cold to a happier room. God has truly and honestly blessed me during this trip. It wasn't what I planned, but it was what HE planned. What a great and powerful Lord He is, giving us so much when we deserve so little.