We arrived in the morning at one of the two Lodges in Milford Sound and scoped out our camp site. Then we went directly to the harbour with the intention of booking a boat cruise to see the Sound. We had already booked a kayaking trip on the following day, but we knew that we would not see the entire Sound by kayak as it is many kilometres long. We were very fortunate as we got onto a cruise almost right away, which included lunch and a visit to the marine conservatory, something I really wanted to do.
The boat cruise was fantastic. We went the full length of the Sound and learned many wonderful things...like Milford Sound is not a sound at all...but rather is a Fjord which was misnamed. Also, there is almost three times as much rain in the Sound as there is in tropical rain forests! This causes an interesting phenomenon in that a layer of fresh water sits on the top of the salty water below. In addition, this fresh water is stained with tanins as it has travelled through the undergrowth which is clinging to the cliffs above. The result is that the salt water is dark and cold, like conditions in the depths of the ocean. Consequently, marine life thrives at shallower depths than in the Ocean itself and is observable at shallower depths. The marine observatory therefore allows for interesting things to be seen.
The observatory has windows at a depth of 10 meters and these give a view of black coral, very rarely seen alive at less than 50 meters. It was just beautiful, looking like frosted trees.
Other than a stop at the observatory, the cruise took us to the exit of the sound to the Tasman sea and return. We saw the two permanent waterfalls in the Sound, Stirling and Bowan falls. We also saw fairy falls, which is not a permanent fall, but appears after rain storms. (Many cascades appear after rain storms, but we were so lucky as we had one of the clear sunny days which are rare in the Sound).
While the cruise started in the calm and late morning, by the afternoon there were strong winds. This would prove to be important to know the next day.
It was the most wonderful scenery, living up to its reputation!