We awoke to find the steady downpour the night before had left the surrounding mountains snow capped, but finally the rain had stopped. Nick and I parted ways and I slowly made my way to the Milford Sound. With the weather clearer, but much colder, I was able to fully appreciate all the viewpoints I had skipped the day before. I even got the opportunity to see a Kea, the only alpine parrot in the world.
When I finally got to the Milford Sound I hopped in a kayak for a guided paddle and walk of the Milford Track. The kayak portion was much shorter than I would have liked, but the Milford Track was what I was really looking forward to. We walked the last 5 km of the 4 day tramp to the Giants Gate Falls and Lake . While we were walking the clouds finally cleared and we caught a dark pink, orange sunset over the bay.
My final day in Fiordland started at 7 AM with a frozen tent and an early cruise of the Milford Sound. I am extremely thankful that I picked up the comforter because my sleeping bag would definitely not have been enough in the below freezing temps. The cruise gave me a full view of the fjord I’ve been eyeing for the past few days. Including some dips under waterfalls, we got to see some seals and dolphins playing in front of the boat. I’m glad I held off until the last day for the cruise because despite being incredibly cold, it was the clearest I’ve seen it.
Afterwards I headed to Gertrude’s Saddle, one of the most difficult hikes I’ve been on in a while. Fortunately I met a young boy from Switzerland near the bottom of the hike who was also looking for a hiking buddy as this was not a hike I wanted to do alone. It took a little over an hour to make it to Black Lake, and another 45 minutes to Gertrude’s Saddle. The final part of the hike was a combination of smooth rock with steel ropes to hang on to and giant rocks covered in snow. Jumping from boulder to boulder reminded me of the rocks I grew up playing on in the desert as a kid, but much, much colder. At the top of Gertrude Saddle’s we got a clear view all the way to Milford Sound, and I ran into the best friends from Germany from camping.
After a tedious hike back down with the girls, which was almost scarier than the way up, I hopped in my car and said goodbye to Milford Sound. I camped on a farm halfway between Te Anau and Queenstown where I got a much needed shower and washing machine.