Friday, December 4, 2009
Switchbacks, Dropoffs and Hairpins
WE had a goal in mind when we left the North Island, I suppose it was two goals but the main one was to get to Milford Sound before we had to leave New Zealand. The second goal was to travel down the west coast of the Southern Island and see the Southern Alps. To shorten my story we achieved our first goal with one day to spare and it was well worth our effords. Milford Sound was a wonderland world of mountians, clear green water and amazing wildlife. We had to land in Queenstown before we arranged to go to Milford because there is no place to stay there. There is actually not even a store, just a few docks and parking for cars and buses. Even the pictures of the sound or fiord do not do justice to what we saw. That being said and our first goal being achieved it was secondary to our second goal as far as the trip is concerned. The highway to the south on the West coast is a new concept for New Zealand and it consists of switchbacks, sheer drop offs, one lane bridges and breath taking views. We were a little disappointed by the fact that much of the Alps were obscured by cloud and it rained all the way down but the journey was wonderful despite the weather. There were sections where I wondered if the bus would fit across the bridge. There were sections where they had, only recently, cut away some of the rock wall so that these new buses would fit through. There were even sections where the turns were so tight that the bus had to make sure there was no traffic coming in the other direction because it needed both lanes to make the 15km/hr turn that was in the highway. Terry was really good after the first day, the first day she made a careful study of the drivers speedometer at each turn and engaged her passanger assist brake peddle for most of the trip (they really don't exist). Me, I thought it was the best part of the trip and that the drivers were amazing.