On Friday University of Otago Diving club left for a annual trip to Fiordland (9 people). This year, the destination was Milford Sound. Kelli has organised everything, sorted out the boat hire and food. There would be no trip this year if it wasn’t her great effort in putting it all together. Big thanks to Kelli!
After few hours of driving we have a shopping stop in Te Anau. Then we started the beautiful Milford road. Few stops along the way, compulsory stop at the Homer Tunnel (both sides of course), and we got to the Lodge. Dinner, lots of fun and games, especially with “horse races”. I’ve read “Crime and Punishment”. And sleep. Next day morning, Loraine came into the dorm, happy like a bird, at 6:40, waking up everyone! Packing up, fast breakfast, preparing. Started at 8:15, drove few hundred meters to the boat, and off we go into the sound (fjord actually). The mountains were in clouds, but the fiord itself was pretty still, allowing us to go all the way out to the mouth. We did one dive at Fox Point/Post Office rock, and another a bit further out. Then a snoorkling session (with some people hunting crayfish on snoorkles!). And on the way back, an awesome dive at the reserve side (north) with plenty of crayfish, fish, and octopus encounters. Compulsory waterfall splash, with everyone getting completely soaked on the deck.
The second day was even better. Just fantastic. Blue skies, calm waters, and perfect diving. Went into few spots for more crayfish diving. Then we headed towards the Bridal falls, with a beautiful spot with a waterfall and a little pool just beneath. Perfect lunch spot. According to Kelli, a perfect spot to propose to your future wife. Tranquility and peace. Amazing views. Then the diving at the reserve again. A beautiful (yet somewhat scary) wall, with a darker and darker abyss beneath. None could see the bottom (although some tried, huh Loraine/Matt?) Lots of black corals, and fish and crayfish. And… dolphins! We have had a very close encounter with 3 and then 2 beautiful mammals underwater. A bit frightening at first. It was my first ever diving with such a close proximity of dolphins. Beautiful. Graceful.
Afternoon spent exploring The Chasm, and a short walk into the Tutoko Valley.
Evening. Walk to the pub. Meeting 3 american tourists, who did not book any accomodation and were left with a prospect to sleep in a car. The diveclub hurried to help – we have had 2 empty beds in our bunk rooms, so the offer was made, friendships established, and 32 large bottles of Speights have been donated to the club, to the huge enthusiasm of the majority of the trip crew. For some, the evening finished around 3am.
On Monday, morning packing, and farewell to Milford. The boys and Loraine hunted a massive number of 27 crayfish. All have been properly fished and almost all consumed on the trip. Matt takes the honours of the larger number of catches and Dan for the largest specimen.
For me personally, visits to Fiordland and to Milford in particular have lots of sentimental value. These places remind me of family and friends with whom I’ve been privileged to spent time with there. I’m already itchy to get back there!