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  • Writer's pictureRuth Mcbride


Day 48/138 2022/2023 Viking Neptune World Cruise

We missed it! If you look at the photo above you can see that the Sound that leads down to the Milford Sound Airport, is called Milford Sound. So why did we miss our turnoff?

If you look at the south west coast of New Zealand, you can see that the swells we were facing were extremely high! Oh my goodness!

We woke up this morning to the biggest swells we have ever faced on this cruise! Cruise Director Bruce came over the public address system this morning about 7:20am and said that unfortunately because of the very rough seas we were experiencing the Captain had made the decision that it was not safe to enter Milford Sound at this time, so instead we were proceeding to Doubtful Sound and hopefully we could sail through Doubtful Sound. The original plan had been to sail through Milford Sound from 7am-11am this morning, and then head to Doubtful Sound from 4pm-7pm today. Frankly I was hoping we could go into a Sound to make the ocean swells stop! The Captain came on the public address system about 30 minutes after Bruce and said the swells were approaching 8 meters at times. 8 metres is 26 feet. Oh my goodness!

I didn’t want to leave our cabin for breakfast, and luckily we have a nice little stash of breakfast goods in our cabin which I picked up in Auckland, including shelf stable Oat Milk, so we both ate some breakfast and then tried to figure out how to have a shower with the ship rolling severely from side to side. Richard would not let me take my shower by myself, and supervised to make sure I was holding onto the hand rail at all times. No 2nd broken femur for me!

We finally got out of our cabin around 10:30am and headed up to the Explorer’s Lounge on Deck 7 at the front of the ship. There were a lot of people already up in the Lounge waiting for our turn in to Doubtful Sound, but the balcony’s off the front of the ship were closed because of the high winds and swells. Trying to take photographs through glass when there is a reflection, is not a good situation, so I said to Richard we should go back down to our cabin on the 6th deck port side and take photos from there instead. So that is what we did.

As we were eagerly anticipating visiting Doubtful Sound I decided to do a bit of research on the Sound to try to understand what we were about to see.

  • Doubtful Sound’s Māori name is ’Patea’ which translates into ‘the place of silence’.

  • Back in 1770 Captain Cook originally named the sound ‘Doubtful Harbour’. He did not enter the sound as he was doubtful it would be navigable under sail. He instead continued around the island instead.

  • Doubtful Sound is in fact a fiord or an underwater valley carved by glaciers so technically Doubtful Sound should be called Doubtful Fiord.

  • Doubtful Sound is the second longest Fiord and sits at depths of up to 421 metres, making it the deepest of the South Island Fiords in Fiordland National Park. Doubtful Sound receives an extremely high amount of rainfall ranging from 3000-6000 mm per year.

  • You cannot drive to Doubtful Sound. If you were to try to reach the Sound from land you would have to drive, then take a boat, then a bus ride and then another boat ride. I’m glad we are on a ship, so we could sail right through it!

We thoroughly enjoyed having calm seas as we went through the beautiful, picturesque Doubtful Sound. I can see why people travel to New Zealand just to see the sound. It was so spectacular and we were in awe of how gorgeous, and gigantic Doubtful Sound actually was. The waterfalls shooting down and off the mountains were stunning as well as the little caves cut into the rocks and the barren cliffs, with little or no vegetation. It was a cornucopia of sensory overload, because we weren’t sure where to look first to be able to take it all in and try and remember it! Here are a few of the best shots from Doubtful Sound today:

Mike and Sharon next door to us also had the same idea to watch from their balcony, so we had the pleasure of sailing through Doubtful Sound with them this morning out on our respective balcony’s.

Yes that is a goretex coat! The temperature dropped to 13C and it started raining of course when we were passing through Doubtful Sound. It was very chilly passing through the Sound!

Sharon and me passing through Doubtful Sound.

Doing our best Vanity Fair act, mugging for the camera…!with Mike photo bombing us!

It was beautiful and calm going through Doubtful Sound. A lot different than the huge swells we had overnight and earlier in the day. What a wonderful respite for us!

What we didn’t know though, was once we made it through Doubtful Sound, would the Captain turn a hard right to take us up the coast to go back through Milford Sound, or would we just skip Milford and head to Tasmania instead, which is our next port of call.

We went to lunch after 1pm in the World Cafe, where we met Gene and Margaret who told us that Team Trivia had been cancelled today, so we didn’t miss anything while we were sailing through Doubtful Sound.

We noticed that we had turned right and appeared to be sailing back up the West coast of the South Island of New Zealand. YEAH! We never heard another announcement though, so we just carried about our sea day business. I went to Art Class where we started to make Valentines Day cards on Day 1 of a 2 day project. After Art Class I finally got back to the gym for 25 minutes on the recumbent bike, and some floor exercises for about a 45 minute work out. It felt good to sweat again, but I did feel a bit ’rusty’ after my 2 week forced layoff with the very bad cold I had.

Around 4:30pm the Captain came over the public address system again to say that we would be soon heading into Milford Sound! Excellent!

Milford Sound is also not a sound, but a fiord. So what is the difference? A sound is formed when the sea floods a river valley and is typically a wide, gently-sloping valley. A fiord is often steep and narrow as opposed to wide and gently sloping. About 15,000-17,000 years ago, glaciers made their way down the mountains to the sea. As the glacier melted or retreated, the sea flooded the valley left behind creating the fiords.

  • The Maori name for Milford sound is ‘Piopiotahi’ meaning ‘single native thrush’. The South Island ’piopio’ is a native bird which is now extinct. In Māori legend the Demi-god Maui, attempted to gain immortality with the goddess of death and died in his attempt and when that happened a single piopio bird flew south to sing and mourn the loss of Maui.

  • Milford Sound got its name in 1823 when John Grono sailed past the fiord. Unsure about the narrow entrance to the fiord, Grono never entered the fiord, but took the time to name it Milford Haven after his Welsh homeland. Even Captain Cook twice missed the wonder of Milford Sound because of its dubious entrance. No wonder our Captain on the Neptune wanted better seas to enter this narrow opening to Milford Sound! In 1851, the Welsh explorer John Lott Stokes named the vast inlet Milford Sound. To correct the incorrect naming of the ‘Sound’ as Sounds, when they are really ‘Fiords’, the entire area was later named ‘Fiordland’ National Park. In Fiordland National Park there are actually 15 glacially carved Fiords, but some are far to remote to visit.

  • Milford receives about 7 metres of rain per year and Milford has about 200 rainy days a year, but with all of that rain comes beautiful water falls!

  • Milford is the only Sound that has direct road access. In fact it is easy to get to by coach from nearby Queenstown in four hours. Milford also has an airport so a more exotic option would be to fly to the airport in Milford Sound.

The very narrow opening to Milford Sound. We took on a pilot before we entered the Sound.

We have entered Milford Sound!

Earlier in the day as we were passing through Doubtful Sound I had been whinging about wanting to see a rainbow over the Sound. Sharon added that if we could see porpoises too off the bow of the ship, with rainbows, and waterfalls, cliffs and caves, that would make it a perfect day. We kept anticipating that we might see any or all of these things, but you just never know!

Finally! In Milford Sound we saw a rainbow! I had been anticipating it since the morning and when it finally appeared, I was read to capture it!

We even saw a second rainbow as we traversed through Milford Sound!

And there is the second rainbow of the day in Milford Sound!

A little bit of framIng using the ship’s railing. What a stunning vista in Milford Sound!

Everywhere we turned we had beautiful scenery in Milford Sound.

We did have rain in Milford Sound, but it did not last long. When the sun came out, the reflections off the mountains was gorgeous!

There were quite a few waterfalls in Milford Sound.

Just look at the majesty of this scene! It was so stunning in Milford Sound, it was hard to take it all in!

I decided to take a Pano shot with my Iphone. Sharon was doing the same with her ipad.

Check this out! I thought this was a very cool shot of Milford Sound!

And as we were about to exit Milford Sound, the pilot boat was following us off on our port side.

The magnitude of the rock formations are easier to understand when you see the perspective of this small boat against the background of Milford Sound.

I am so glad that the Captain made the decision to first proceed to Doubtful Sound and then try again in the afternoon to enter Milford Sound. Doubtful Sound was definitely an ’amuse Bouche’ for Milford Sound, as I found Milford Sound much more scenic than Doubtful Sound, but I was really glad we had the chance to experience both of these gorgeous sounds!

After a new Chef’s Table dinner with the gang of Sharon and Mike, Sue and Steve, Margaret and Gene and me and Richard, we knew that the seas were getting a lot rougher now that we were heading into the Tasman Sea. The temperature outside had also plummeted. I thought we were on a warm weather cruise around the world! No one prepared me for temperatures like this in the Southern Hemisphere!

Look how cold it was going to be over night! 37F!!! Luckily we already had our cabin steward give us another down duvet, so we have 2 down duvets on our bed!

I could not finish the blog last night with the swells and the cold temperature in our cabin. For some reason the maintenance crew who have come two or three times to our cabin cannot figure out the air flow in our cabin. Richard saw some guys walking around the ship yesterday who were from Europe, who were testing airflows around the ship for the next 8 days. Richard mentioned to them that they need to come to our cabin and test the airflows, as our ceiling air vent literally puts out no air. Richard gave them our cabin number so we hope that this will be resolved soon, since we have the heat on full in the cabin, and it is not very warm in here!

We have today and tomorrow on the Tasman Sea before we finally reach Tasmania on Saturday February 11th. The Tasman Sea or ‘the Ditch’ as Australians and New Zealanders call the Tasman Sea, is one of the roughest waterbodies on Earth. The Tasman Sea is rough for most of the year as the currents of the Southern Ocean collide with those of the Pacific. We will see what we can accomplish today, given the pitching and rolling of the ship with 12-14 foot swells. It definitely is not for the faint of heart and walking around the ship in these conditions is downright scary and dangerous. Let’s see if we manage to get to Trivia and Art Class today, but I think the gym will have to wait for another day, since it is on Deck 1 and sitting on the exercise bike, watching the swells crash into the windows while on the bike, is not really my cup of tea.

We had highly anticipated seeing both Milford and Doubtful Sounds on this cruise as they are UNESCO World Heritage sites, with Milford Sound being the jewel of Fiordland National Park. I’m so glad we got the chance to see them both, as I’m not sure when we will make it back to New Zealand again. We loved every minute of New Zealand! Such a diverse, picturesque, friendly, unique country. If you’ve never had the chance to visit, I think you should add it to your ‘bucket list’!

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09 בפבר׳ 2023

Gorgeous photos of Milford Sound! And I really hope you get warm air for your cabin - yikes!

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