A Travellerspoint blog

New Zealand - Queenstown, Milford Sound, Arrowtown

Sunday 7th February 2016 Flight over the Southern Alps, Milford Sound and Arrowtown

Milford Sound Scenic Flight and cruise
We had bought our breakfast to eat in so we were ready to go. The conditions were perfect- warm with no cloud. Having checked with Real Journeys (yes, again) www.realjourneys.co.nz/en/experiences/cruises/milford- sound-scenic-cruises that the flight was fine (and it was a beautiful sunny day with no wind, so it was obviously going to be fine), we went to reception at 9. The taxi collected us and drove around Queenstown to collect a few others before we headed to Queenstown airport. Once there we boarded a 6-seater and flew off. This meant that everyone had a window seat with great panoramic views of the alpine scenery, lush rainforest, and fjordland. The flight went over the river Shotover, and Arthurs Point, with Skippers Canyon on our right, the second finest gold bearing river in the world. Gold was discovered here in 1862 and there is still a small working gold mine. Then over Mt Larkin, Mt Crighton and on to the end of Lake Wakatipu with Pig and Pigeon Islands. We flew over the small town of Glenlorchy at the tip of the lake. In the distance we could see the tall peak of Mt Earnslaw, which at 2819m is the highest in Fjordland. It is this mountain for whom TSS Earnslaw is named. Then we crossed Mt Bonpland and the Humboldt Mountain range before traversing a wide river valley (Hollyford River) and over permanently snowy Mt Christina / Mt Talbot with their mountain lakes (Lake Marian/ Lake Adelaide). The pilot flew within a few metres of Korako Glacier and on over more mountains of the Darran Range until we came to a river valley and the end of Milford Sound. Mt Tutoko on our right was the tallest in this range, at 2723m. The plane went the length of the sound (on the right) to the Tasman, then back along the left side of the sound to land at Milford Airport.
Arthurs Point, Shotover Rv, Lake Marian, Lake Adelaide, Pig and Pigeon Islands, Korako Glacier, Milford Sound, Tasman sea, Lake Erskine/ Tooth Peak, Lake Ada, Hollywater valley, return to Queenstown

A bus took us to the dock by Milford Lodge (no.1), the site of Donald Sutherland’s original 1878 accommodation, where we boarded the cruise ship at Freshwater Basin (no.2). Initially we stood on the top deck to enjoy the early part of the sound, but as it got windier and wetter we picked up our packed lunches, got a coffee and moved inside. The cruise took us the whole 16km length of the sound on the left (south) side, passing waterfalls, rainforest, mountains and wildlife. To our left was Sinbad Gully (no.6), surrounded by Mt Phillips, the Llawrenny Peaks and Mt Rahotu and where the kakapo was rediscovered. Next was (no.7) Mitre Peak (Rahotu), named as it looked (at a squint) like a bishop's mitre hat. Mitre Peak is unusual as it is one of the highest in the world to rise vertically from sea level to 1690m. We were impressed by the geological drama of sheer cliffs starting hundreds of metres below the water surface and rising spectacularly to the sky. We passed through the narrower part of the sound, past Copper Point (no.8, natural copper in the rock and the windiest spot in Milford), Fairy Falls and Bridal Veil Falls (right next to each other), Greenstone Point and Anita Bay (where a lot of quality greenstone was found, no.15), Fox Point, right to Saint Anne Point (and its 1890s lighthouse, no.16) and out briefly into the Tasman Sea. It was rougher and windier here before we turned back in on the right, passing the official Sound entrance at Dale Point (no.14). This side had some more interesting waterfalls. We passed Piopiotahi Marine Reserve (no.13) and a resident seal colony, which was made of young males, basking on the rocks, with Pembroke Glacier behind, followed by the 700m Overhang. We went up close to the impressive (no.10) Stirling Falls (146m), named after Cpt Sterling of HMS Cleo, where we got wet.
This waterfall comes down from (no.11) The Elephant (1508m) whose trunk is a hanging valley making the falls. The legend is that if the falls water lands on you it is good luck and an invitation to return. Its Maori name is Wai Mananu. Then it was Harrison Cove (no.5), fed by Harrison River and a natural harbour, where we looked back to see The Lion (no.9), a mountain shaped like a crouching lion (officially Mt. Kimberly) and (no.12) Mt. Pembroke/ Puhipuhi Takiwai (2015m) with Pembroke Glacier (which originally carved out Milford Sound) behind it. This is the deepest part of Milford Sound, 305m. In front of us was the Cascades Range and Bowen Falls right by the wharf) and Cemetery Point (no.3), named for the grave like debris brought down from Bowen Falls, and a real graveyard for William Rathbun in 1894! Bowen Falls (no.4) was so named in 1871 after Lady Bowen, wife of the Governor-General, when she visited on the ship HMS Cleo. The commentary, which you could only hear indoors was informative, and we soon discovered the open rear deck for great views (hardly anyone was there as they were too busy crowding the top deck to find it). Like all the fiords in this area, Milford has a top few metres of freshwater (from the mountain falls) with saltwater from the ocean below it in a distinct layer. This has led to the adaption of various water creatures, exploiting a mixed habitat.

Two Legends
The Maori legend is that the god Tu re raki whanoa made Fjordland with his adze. The Maori for the sound is Piopiotahi, possibly after a local bird, the Piopio (extinct), possibly after the name of the first canoe that came exploring for greenstone. The European is simpler; it was named by the welsh seal hunter John Grono, who named it for his birthplace, Milford Haven.
Greenstone and the Maori Pounamu (Maori for greenstone) refers to several types of hard, durable and highly valued nephrite jade, bowenite, or serpentinite stone found in southern New Zealand. There are two systems for classifying pounamu. Geologically, the rock falls into three categories, but Māori classify pounamu by appearance into kawakawa, kahurangi, īnanga, and tangiwai. The first three are nephrite jade, while tangiwai is a form of bowenite. Īnanga pounamu takes its name from a native freshwater fish and is pearly-white or grey- green in colour and varies from translucent to opaque. Kahurangi pounamu is highly translucent and a vivid shade of green after the clearness of the sky and is the rarest variety of pounamu. Kawakawa pounamu comes in many shades, often with flecks or inclusions, and is named after the leaves of the native kawakawa tree (Macropiper excelsum). It is the most common variety of pounamu. Tangiwai pounamu is clear like glass but in a wide range of shades. The name comes from the word for tears. In modern usage pounamu almost always refers to nephrite jade. Pounamu is found in rivers in specific parts of the South Island as nondescript boulders and stones which are difficult to identify without cutting open. Pounamu plays an important role in Māori culture. It is considered a taonga (treasure) and protected under the Treaty of Waitangi. Pounamu taonga increase in mana (prestige) as they pass from one generation to another. The most prized taonga are those with histories going back many generations. These are believed to have their own mana and were often given to seal important agreements. Pounamu taonga include tools such as chisels (whao) and adzes (toki), fishing lures, and bird leg rings (kākā poria); weapons such as mere (short handled clubs); and ornaments such as pendants (hei-tiki, hei matau and pekapeka), ear pendants, and cloak pins. It is found only in the South Island (Te Wa(h)i Pounamu The land of Greenstone). In 1997 the Crown handed back the ownership of all naturally occurring pounamu to the South Island tribe Ngāi Tahu, as part of the Ngai Tahu Claims Settlement.
Fairy Falls
Harrison Cove, Copper Point, Dale Point, Stirling Falls, Anita Bay, Sinbad Gully
When the cruise had finished our pilot collected us and we flew back, this time further south, over Deepwater Basin and Arthur Valley. Lake Ada was originally part of Milford Sound until 1000 years ago when it was isolated by a huge landslip. We flew high enough to spot Milford Track and Te Anau Lake in the distance on our left, then, close below Lake Erskine, Eglinton Valley and Flat Top Peak, Lake Gunn, Ailsa Mts and Greenstone Plain to Tooth Peaks and back over Pigeon Island/ Glenorchy to land back in Queenstown. Interestingly Te Anau is the 2nd largest lake in NZ (61km long, 417m deep) and Wakatipu is the 3rd (84km long 400m deep).
Galaxiids- Non-migratory galaxiids belong to an ancient, scaleless fish family called Galaxiidae – for the galaxy-like gold flecks and patterns on their backs. Unlike whitebait, which migrate to sea, some non-migratory galaxiid species live out their entire life in the stream or river in which they hatched. Over millennia, populations of galaxiids were isolated by geological events such as earthquakes and glacial movement. They evolved into distinct species, each with their own individual features and stories. There are 12 species of non-migratory galaxiids and a further 13 indeterminate in New Zealand. These fish are not well known, and it is difficult to tell non-migratory galaxiids species apart. Some species are only found in one or two rivers and all have a threatened or at risk conservation status. Otago is a biodiversity ‘hot spot’ for non-migratory galaxiids, and is home to 11 out of the 23 species. The streams and rivers that flow through Otago is the only place on Earth some of these fascinating freshwater fish can be found. Many non-migratory galaxiids have highly fragmented populations with a number of local extinctions being confirmed in recent years, predominantly in Otago and Canterbury. This is largely a result of invasive species invasion and habitat loss.
Stirling Falls
Seal colony and Bowen Falls

Our taxi took us back to our hotel, and we decided to take a trip out to Arrowtown, an old mining town which has retained its original shops and its Chinese Mining Settlement. Very interesting. After a walk around the informative Chinese settlement we headed into the town (2 mins) for a cold drink at the Stables http://www.stablesrestaurant.co.nz before we did a bit of shopping (Steve’s pen), walked to the end of the historic town looking at the old houses before driving back.

Chinese Settlement
The settlement on the banks of Bush Creek is partly restored, partly reconstructed; a reminder of the contribution made by Chinese miners to the gold rush in Arrowtown/ Macetown and Skippers Canyon. The 1874 census records 3564 Chinese in Otago, mainly living on the fringes of Euopean settlements and often discriminated against. By 1885 Arrowtown Chinese settlement had 10 huts, a garden, a large social hall (demolished 1900) and two shops, one of which, Ah Lum’s Store and Hall, has its own preservation order. The huts show a variety of construction techniques, including mud brick, stone, wood, corrugated iron, canvas and even cut into a tree. Originally the men, mainly from Guangzho, lived communally, 2-6 to a hut. There do not appear to have ever been any Chinese women living here (the first Chinese lady recorded as arriving in NZ 1873 and by 1896 there were still only 11 of them in the whole of NZ).
We wandered back to the town, sitting on the beach, browsing shops and buying some cookies at Cookie time (as recommended by Emma) before getting the last non-reserved outdoor table at the waterfront Ivy and Lolas www.ivyandlolas.com where we ate a delicious local fish (sole family) with a great wine (Coopers Shed). After our meal we tried two bars recommended (Below Zero and Rhinos Ski Shack- both shut). A brief look at the local church and the moa statue (Vesta store) before getting to bed.

History of Queenstown
The Maori (Hgai Tahu tribe), who controlled most of southern South Island) only used the area as a fishing site en route to collect greenstone. A small settlement of the Kati Mamoe has been found close by called Te Kirikiri Pa but was certainly abandoned by 1860. In September 1853 Nathaneal Chalmers was guided by Reko, chif of the Tuturau to Lake Wakatipu, the first European there. William Rees and von Tunzelmann established a farm in the area, but when gold was discovered in Arrow River, they established a hotel, Eichardts. The settlement, named as The Station by Rees, soon acquired the name Queenstown by the gold miners to honour Queen Victoria in 1863.
1. SKIPPERS CANYON – the world’s second finest gold bearing river. Gold was discovered here 1862 and some mining is still happening.
2. GLENORCHY township at the head of Lake Wakatipu and start of the Routeburn track
3. MT EARNSLAW highest mountain in the area (2819m)
4. MT TUTOKO highest peak in Fiordland (2723m)
6. MITRE PEAK rises vertically from the sea to 1690m, the tallest in the world
7. ARTHUR VALLEY/ LAKE ADA – the lake was part of Milford Sound until 1000 years ago when a landslide blocked it off
8. LAKE QUILL/ SUTHERLAND FALLS/ McKINNON PASS- Sutherland Falls are the highest in NZ (580m) and McKinnon Pass the highest point of Milford Track (1100m)
9. MILFORD TRACK – 55km track (4 days walk)
10. LAKE TE ANAU- 2nd largest in NZ (61km long, 417m deep)
11. EGLINTON VALLEY- the Milford Road is in its centre
12. GREENSTONE VALLEY- early Maori passed along to get West coast greenstone 13. LAKE WAKATIPU – 3rd largest in NZ (84km long. 400m deep)
14. WALTER PEAK- site of the original Wakatipu homestead

Posted by PetersF 19:42 Archived in New Zealand Tagged queenstown flight new island south zealand sound milford arrowtown fiordland

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents

Be the first to comment on this entry.

This blog requires you to be a logged in member of Travellerspoint to place comments.