Time to be a Tourist – The Milford Road

“On a Mish” #372 Time to be a Tourist. Te Anau – Piopiotahi / Milford Sound. Southland / Fiordland National Park. 20.4.2023. The biggest change in my life was going from a job assembling cabinets on a factory floor to a life in and out of the mountains. It is easy to say that I really prefer one over the other and I never want to return to a life I didn’t enjoy. As time and life goes on, and my health and body continues to get better I start to think about the next stage. A trip down south reinforced my desire to return to my home and back to work in the incredible area, and to get an idea of some of my options for work both my parents and I decided it was time to be a tourist…

The main reason I headed up to Christchurch for my hip and back, is due to the lack of health care providers in the tiny lakeside town. The small medical centre is great for most minor health hiccups, but when it comes to things like specialists and surgeons I have to travel further abroad, and a 400 km return trip to either Queenstown or Invercargill after each procedure, no matter how small it is, didn’t seem like a good way to recover!

Nowadays I am definitely on the mend and will be beginning my back to work program near the end of May. To get an idea of what work is available I headed south with my parents and it was safe to say that both myself and Ernie were happy to be home. I have really missed the house I purchased back in 2019 and I am looking forward to returning to normal, but now with a legendary little dog by my side.

With bags packed in the car it was time to begin the long trek south. Long car trips are the worst for my hip and back, and unfortunately this one was no different.

After a recovery night’s rest we were up early-ish the next morning weighing up our options. It had been a couple of months since I was last down south and my garden showed it, but because the weather was looking better for the first period of our stay we decided the work could wait. Now was the time to be a tourist to get an idea of some of the work I might do in the future. Of course this meant going to where most tourists go when visiting Te Anau, Piopiotahi / Milford Sound.

An Amazing Sky to Start Our Day

It was nice to be a passenger while driving on the Milford Road. A lot of its near unmatched beauty is missed when you are the one behind the wheel, so I relished the chance to sit back and stare in wonder.

We stopped for a coffee break near Sinks Bridge in the Upper Hollyford Valley, and the Darran Mountains looked as good as ever with their steepness testing everyone’s neck muscles. Having a drink from the water that flows through Ata Whenua makes the drink a special one, and both my mother and I enjoyed our coffee while my old man paced up and down impatiently.

After the stop we ventured further along the road and as we approached the Homer Tunnel we got possibly the worst place in the world to get a green light. One way traffic through the tunnel means lights and a timer at either entrance and because there is a timer you can get out and have a little look around while stopped. The light changed just as we got to the entrance and it seemed that a van in the line of traffic wanted to stay a little bit longer than everyone else and we all (including massive buses) had to drive around the scenery-stricken sightseer.

After the tunnel comes the mind melting cliffs of the Cleddau Valley. Not many places on the planet have land as dramatically up and down as in the the valleys of the Darran Mountains, it is no wonder why so many tourists from all around the world come to this incredible place.

Once down in the fiord our first challenge was working out the parking system. The massive amount of people coming into such a small place means a huge bottle neck at the end of the road. A word of advice is, if you don’t intend to go out on a boat when visiting, then park at the car park seen on the left before you round the bend into the tiny village itself. I’m sure, with the confusion of cars, campers and buses in and around the car park near the ferry terminal, some people have found themselves with an unwanted parking bill. We got out of the chaos and headed to the much quieter basin car park to take in the epicness and feed the sandflies.

After getting back to Te Anau it was time to hand out a few CVs and get a gauge of how much work will be available in the near future. I am looking forward to returning to work, whatever that might be? But after our little outing to Piopiotahi / Milford Sound I can definitely say that although I really enjoyed the occasion when it was time to be a tourist, I’d much rather be the one showing the place to the tourists in future!

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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