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Tranquil Forest

Tranquil Forest
 
 

SEVERAL minutes passed before we were suddenly clear from the dark tunnel. The valley below us plunged precariously into a glacial bowl. The vegetation here was sparse and the road switch backed down it. Rain was falling on this side of the mountain creating a rainbow covering the road below. The mountains were enshrouded in light mist, but looking ahead towards Milford Sound the sky was blue.

Misty rain just out of the Homer Tunnel
Misty rain just out of the Homer Tunnel

The mountains seemed to have fairly flat tops, but they plunged vertically into the valley below. Small waterfalls were tumbling down the grey walls of rock that surrounded us. The bus followed the switch backs down the back of the glacial bowl before proceeding along the the bottom of the valley beside a cascading river quickly dropping towards Milford. The rain quickly cleared but puffy clouds clung to the mountains above as blue sky now hovered overhead.

Forest Trail
Forest Trail

We continued following the river steeply downstream until it met with another one coming down another glacial valley. The combined river roared down the valley. After a few more minutes we stopped at a small car park and were allowed to go for a walk along a short bush trail.

The trees were covered in thick moss and there was a lower canopy of tree ferns. This was one of the wettest places in the world receiving some seven to eight metres of rain every year. I could hear the river not far ahead roaring through the rocky canyon.

Stream heading towards Milford
Stream heading towards Milford

After a few minutes I could see the river plunging deep in a narrow ravine quite some distance below. A bridge crossed over the ravine showing the river fanning out further downstream. After a couple of minutes at the bridge I returned through the forest to the bus.

Once back on board we continued following the valley steeply downstream until eventually reaching the bottom flats. For the first time I saw the distinctive Mitre Peak in the distance. We were almost there.

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Date:

 

Location: Country:

 

Latitude: Longitude: Altitude:

15 February 2008

 

Cleddau Valley

New Zealand

 

44°43'S
167°56'E
945 - 0m ASL

 

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