“What did zero says to eight?” “Nice belt man!” – Ben, Milford Sounds Kayaks, Milford.

So what do the two hundred odd permanent mildfordites do in a town that has nothing but a wharf, three lodges, one pub, no cell phone coverage, and is locked off from the rest of the world when the Homer Tunnel is closed off at 7pm every night? I asked Adam, our kayak guide.

“Why, we run nude to the pub of course!”

Once a year eighty odd men and woman Milfordites of all shapes and ages run nude down the Homer Tunnel to the Blue Duck Pub, but if you’d rather do something with your clothes on in Milford, there is always the annual beauty pageant, where all the blokes dress up in their finest frocks, to parade up and down the runway at Blue Duck Pub, there’s bingo night on Sunday run by our very own comical kayak guide Adam, and if you want to get wet (without attracting sandflies) you can see how close you can get to the bottom of the resident waterfall, Lady Bowen Falls. In a kayak from the other side of the fiord, that very waterfall sounds like an F18 fighter plane taking off, so I can only imagine whats it like walk into, probably like trying to climb into the arse end of an F18 whist it’s taking off. Adam got thrown nose first into the rock at his feet the last time he tried.

The Tour: Afternoon Delight – Milford Sound Kayaks

My fellow Kayakers and I waited in the warmth of Milford Lodge for our guide, we took turns looking out the window with big eyes and crevasses on our brows. “Are we really expected to go kayaking in this weather?” Fresh snow sat on the ranges, rain lashed at the windows, wind howled over and bent the trees. If there was a least promising day for kayaking, this was it! However Milford may be the only place on earth, other than drought stricken parts of Africa, were the locals revel and rejoice in the rain. “Rain! We want rain, the more rain the better!” declared Adam our cheeky chipmunk faced guide, raising his arms and rolling his eyes as if we are all stupid.

The waterfalls that cascade down the walls of the Fiords only occur two hours after it starts raining, and cease to exist two hours after it stops raining. So without the rain, you would only see the two resident waterfalls that flow all year due to glacial melt.

In a large green tent fondly referred to by the Milfordites as The Cacoon, we suited up in sexy stripy thermal underwear, fleeces, hats and jackets and emerge from the cacoon as beautiful matching yellow kayakers. With the boat loaded with kayaks and kayakers we make our way, ricochetting and thumping against the waves in the driving rain, until we reach the head of the fiord and the Tasman Sea. Fumbling against boat and swell we all disembarked off the boat into the kayaks and began the long haul back to Milford some 18 kilometres away fighting both wind and tide. Then the most amazing thing happened, the sun came out and followed us all they way home. Waterfalls and Sunshine – they write songs about this kind of thing – this is a spectacular part of the country that defies description, thus the photos speak for themselves.

The rest of my Milford Experience included a hike in the rain up Tutoko Valley, and the Routeburn Track from The Divide to Lake McKenzie and back, passing Lake Howden and Earland Waterfall. Again, spectacular even in this moody weather.


About Juliet Jones

Beauty is everywhere, if you but open your eyes
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