I begin rolling over farmland and fields of grass and hay, towards the dream that is the fiords, not quite convinced that the dream is a reality out there somewhere. Onwards toward these sub-tropical mountains that reach both the sky and the sea to such incredible depths.
It’s about 9am as i make my way into Fiordland National Park. Eventually reaching a pass between two mountains. The build up of these moments, these views, has been exciting me for months.. and i think years, despite not truly believing i would ever be here in this life. Gratitude washes over me and i bathe in it.
Recalling all the word i have heard up until now about this Wonder of the world, the promise of so many more shapes and waterfalls lie infront of me on this winding road ahead.
The mounds of Earth, in shades of dark blue, are covered in a cool, dense, morning fog. I drive on with hopes of finding warm sunlight up above the morning dew.
The weaving through tall, well fed, rain-watered forests with an open blue sky above. Every time i come speeding out of the trees, a new view presents itself and my jaw drops all over again. I really cannot be bothered to shut it or calm myself down. The whole route i am at the edge of my seat.
I drive towards a glacier covered mountain top through Monkey Creek Valley, and suddenly i am pulling over in order to feel the crisp morning air on my skin outside. The sun is warm and the fog, majestic, as it hugs and slides its way over the snowy topped peaks.
I take a deep breath and decide to get back on the road before i am lost behind 30 more cars and camper van’s, tourists on their way to where the ocean meets these gentle giants.
I try to find the balance between my minds, one is calm, telling me, “oh ive got time” and the other a little frantic, “the cruises could fill up, or i could miss one, or i may not find parking to see the fiords today”. I hadn’t even planned to jump on a cruise today until about 10 minutes ago, when i realized no rain was coming this morning or afternoon. The sky was too bright and blue!
The van struggles to get around the tight corners – REALLY. TIGHT. – and steep hills. I pull over a few times, respecting others in the fact that it is 80km along this road, and Pearl my Vanette can’t seem to push herself past 40 right now. Thankfully all the signs warning of corners say “35” and “45” km.
We (Pearl and I, because we are a team!), manage to get up a large long and winding hill, surrounded in walls of very tall rock. As if we are in a fish bowl of mountains. I’m surprised to find a lineup where the hill flattens out a little, it appears we have to wait for a light to signal us through a tunnel. I couldn’t believe this experience. I had never heard about this tunnel, and was amazed to find out it went directly through the mountain ahead, over 1200m of rock, to the other side. As we went in, I began to feel a little nervous about how long the tunnel would last! I am open to adventure and new experiences but still can’t seem to shake the little bit of claustrophobia i experience in instinces like this one!
After only about 4 minutes of downhill driving through this wet and dark single lane tunnel, we emerge on the other side… and it is as if i have been birthed into a completely different dimention. There is no fog, only clear blue skies with a few adorable clouds lovingly floating alongside the cliffs high above. The jungle covered mountains seem to smile up into the open sky. I feel as though they are welcoming me. There’s a new kind of Earthy feeling here that i have never experienced before.
I jump on a shuttle bus after parking, (not realizing you can do a 20 minute walk between a little river and the road), to get to the cruises port. I pay the $80 for the experience i want. Which i am endlessly happy with. My experience was worth every penny. I feel as though the rest of my trip will simply be the cherry on top because this was the whole flippin cake.
We went out to the Tasman sea (completely different weather! Stormy, windy, cold), and back into the inlet. Saw ‘Seal Rock’ with at least 15 young Fur Seals resting in the sun, the breeze blowing away any sandflies from annoying them. We went right up to a giant all natural, year round, waterfall. Without much warning!! Giving me a good laugh as i tilted my head up, a toothy smile spreads ear to ear and i can’t help it. Im soaked and so happy. When we start to back up, the Skipper announces he can take a hint, as most of the tourists on the outside decks ran inside and were angry, trying to protect their camera phones. I couldn’t stop giggling. (See photo)
I found out they had beer on the cruise and treated myself to one as we finished the last leg of the sail!
It was incredibly hard to leave this area. But there is no camping inside the park unless you have a spot at a very expensive, very quickly booked full, lodge.
I take advantage of the amazing weather (maybe about 25 Celcius?) and jump into the Lake Marian hike just outside the park. And after a sweaaatty 2 hour hike up steep cliff (made me want to try rock climbing again! Love grabbing sturdy tree roots and rock to hoist myself up onto cliffs). Amazed at my body and how strong it is once i stop doubting her, i reach the top. The view is well worth all the blood (sandfly bites EVERYWHERE), sweat (again, very steep), and finalky the tears (untouched, natural beauty).
I stop and steep in the breathtaking view of this clear green and blue lake, caressed by steep mountains above.
Theres something here in Fiordland… that connects me deeply to something much bigger than me. When i walk into the forests at home, theres a feeling of big bears, cougars, and life amongst the mossy floors… but here, there is really only birds, possum, keas and kiwi bird’s (the last two i have yet to spot), the feeling of something big out there must be the raw untouched mountains – come to life. They are healthy, they are full, they are booming with a soft sweetness.
Here, i felt more connected to myself and the Earth than ever before ❤
Here is to seeing 7 more of the 8 ‘Wonders of the World’ in this life time!
Walk lightly, smile often, breathe deeply.