Thursday, May 5, 2011

Pacific Polar Plunge

4/27/11     Bluff -> Milford Sound -> Te Anau
Our poor planning once again affected our day.  We awoke around 8 or so, donned our togs (bathing suits) and headed for the coast.  It was time for our version of a polar plunge.  We were hoping to find some sort of dock or pier for total, immediate immersion, but we couldn’t.  Instead we found a spot to climb down to the beach and run in.  We were split evenly as a group, 3 diving and 3 spectating.  Travis, Kaleb, and I were the brave ones jumping in.  So we shed our clothes, handed away our cameras and went for it.  We waded in and dove under a wave.  We were off the coast of one of the southernmost locations of the South Island, in April, at 8:30 in the morning.  Basically, it was really cold.
After that first submersion it actually wasn’t too bad.  However, knowing how cold it actually was, I walked back out almost immediately.  What a way to start the day!
Our delusions that we were doing well on time lasted about another hour before shattering.  After showering off the salt water and packing up the van once more we were quickly informed by Bertha (the GPS) that we had a 4.5 hour drive to reach Milford Sound, which we needed to be at in 4.5 hours to catch our boat.  This led to the decision to skip the viewing of Stirling Point, a location I really wanted to go to.  Why, you ask?  Because Stirling Point has one of those posts with signs and distances pointing to locations all over the world, including the South Pole.  Sadly it was a no go.

And so we drove to Milford Sound, only stopping once to get petrol/ to empty bladders.  The drive, at the end, involved some serious hills and turns and even a tunnel.  The scenery was just gorgeous.  We reached the end of the road about 15 minutes before we needed to, so about 45 minutes before our boat left.  Nice timing over all, especially since Bertha was playing with us for a while when we first started.  Anyways, we purchased our tickets and then sat and waited patiently for boarding.
The Sound was magnificent.  I’ll let the pictures do the explaining.  The only thing I will say is that technically the Milford Sound is actually a Fiord.  We were told this on our ride.  It has to do with how it was formed.  If your curiosity is piqued, check it out here- Fiords
After New Zealand overwhelmed us with even more of its beauty, we headed right back the way we came.  Our ultimate destination was Te Anau.  Before getting too far, however, we stopped at a turn off to see ‘The Chasm.’  It was super cool.  It was also about this time that we realized how cold it was getting.  A fact we noticed again when we reached the holiday park (campground) we were overnighting (tenting) at.  We quickly realized just how stupid this idea was, but we didn’t back down.  Instead we made dinner, I went online for a bit while the others showered.  They then used the internet briefly before we engaged in a few rounds of Bananagrams.
It was soon time to sacrifice our bodies to the below freezing temperatures outside.  We were all wearing layers, I had on three, and we all consumed a bit of alcohol to warm ourselves up before drifting off.

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