Kipling’s ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’: Milford Sound, NZ

March 17, 2019

5,500-foot Mitre Peak in Milford Sound


​March 12, 2019, Milford Sound, New Zealand — Leading from the Tasman Sea to what is today the South Island’s Fiordland National Park, this 10-mile-long fjord was so hidden, Capt. Cook didn’t discover it until his second (of 3) NZ voyage, in 1772. ​



Let’s get the food out of the way first. The day we spent cruising Doubtful Sound (Capt. Cook doubted he could navigate it in a sailing ship... I doubted I could take usable fotos in the fog) and Milford Sound, the chefs put on yet another stupendous brunch (more fotos to come). These are huge New Zealand green-lipped mussels prepared 4 ways I don’t remember. I should have added a fork for scale. I prefer the small ‘cozze’ (mussels) with cheesy cream sauce at the Italian restaurant onboard.


Where the North Island ‘arose’ from volcanoes, the South Island is a ‘glacial landform,’ and the fjords resulted from retreating glaciers. It rivals the Chilean Fjords — but I think Chile wins by shear number of glaciers. (Btw: Norwegians spell it fjord. Kiwis spell it fiord. I opt for the former since that’s what I grew up with.)


Now, on to the fog... this was Doubtful Sound. It socked in soon after.

​Fast forward about 5 hours to Milford Sound. I had never heard of it... but it attracts between 500,000 and 1 million tourists every year. Many hike the surrounding mountains, which are primarily granite. The town at the end of the fjord has 120 residents who work primarily in conservation and tourism. There is an underwater biological research lab in one of the bays. 

Our new captain, ‘Captain Olav,’ came on the loudspeaker and invited everyone to go onto the deck at the bow of the ship. In my experience on this ship, this was the first time we’d been invited onto the bow while the ship was moving. ​​Many took advantage of this...

... or hung over the rails on Deck 7, outside the Explorers’ Lounge. (I mention specific decks and public areas because some of my readers have been on this very ship, or other Viking ocean ships.) 

 Towards the head of Milford Sound we came upon waterfall after waterfall.  


Thanks to my exercise classmate Darcel for this shot of the 531-foot Lady Bowen Falls. 

 Back in the Passepartout New Zealand Bureau Break Room...​

​Though there was lots to look at, there wasn’t too much to say about Doubtful Sound and Milford Sound. So I’ll finish off my last notes about...


More Maori history: Early Maori settlers settled their inter-tribal disputes with clubs. No spears or daggers. Clubs. Until sealers and whalers and explorers in need of fresh food came ashore and purchased same with the available currency: muskets. Once the tribes were armed, their conflicts escalated, leading to the Maori Wars that lasted from 1800 to 1840. That was the year 500 tribal chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi with the British, making New Zealand part of the British Empire. By then, the population of 250,000 Maori who had been here when Capt. Cook arrived had been reduced to only 70,000, due more to European diseases than to bullet wounds.​


Leaving Kiwi land for Oz, across the potentially ‘Roaring Forties’ of the Tasman Sea... #


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