After the Routeburn Track, we headed to Te Anau and stayed at the Barnyard Backpacker’s Hostel, which had the main facilities in a big, old barn. It was extremely cozy and we all agreed that it was our favorite accommodation yet on the South Island.
The main attraction of Fiordland National Park is Milford Sound, which is known to be the “8th Wonder of the World.” It is also one the wettest places in New Zealand, making it one of the wettest places in the world. When one of the park rangers from the Routeburn Track was informing us and our fellow hikers of the wet weather for our next day’s hike and heard us groan from disappointment, he made a good point that rain is a very positive thing in the Fiordland area because it is what makes up the unique plant life in the region. To experience wet weather is to truly experience the place.
We truly did “experience” Milford Sound when we took a boat tour on one of the rainiest days of the year. It was nature in action. I’ve never seen so much water in my life. There was water coming from all sorts of directions: Falling from the sky, flowing underneath the boat, roaring down the steep cliffs…
There were waterfalls falling down cliffs so far up that sometimes it looked like the waterfalls came from the clouds.
Being on a boat in Milford Sound during a heavy rainstorm was certainly not the most comfortable experience. We were in a storm in the ocean and nestled between two mountains that were towering over us. At one point the wind was blowing through the cliffs at almost 60 miles per hour while our boat was heading into it. I wasn’t so sure that the captain had the situation completely under control. I could do nothing but laugh from hysteria. I think everybody else felt the same way.
But was the rainstorm in Milford Sound the most epic experience? Absolutely. Landing yourself in a not-so-ideal situation always results in some sort of adventure. Of course, going to see a place when the weather is ideal is always lovely. Your experience usually consists of looking at the beautiful view and saying, “This is so pretty!” Or you relax, take the moment in, and try to store it in your memory. But really experiencing a place takes it to a whole different level. Fear is a very strong emotion and it tunes your senses into the moment from the adrenaline that’s created. The moments in life where you have truly felt are the most unforgettable.
I have learned on this trip that rain is really not so bad. When it is raining, you always avoid being outside. You assume that it should be an “inside” day and you make a point to be warm, dry, and cozy. But being stuck in the rain when you are outside has a charm about it. During a rainfall, the sun may not be blazing down on the earth creating all sorts of sharp colors, but the earth is instead layered with sparkles that reflect the clouds’ shadows and bring new colors to your eyes. When you get over being a little wet, you start to realize the peaceful beauty a rainy day brings.
When we got back to our hostel and dried off a little bit, we talked to other people about our Milford Sound experience and they said that they actually prefer seeing the place on a rainy day. I can understand why.