A few years ago we went to Central Otago on a trip. It really was a magical time away, At that stage we both had highly stressful jobs and we were really needing to get away from everything.
Probably one of the best places in the world to blow the cobwebs out of your world and to get a fresh perspective on your tiny, insignificant place in the cosmos is Otago. It’s desolate, alpine crags and mountains soar into the sky and create knife-edge and flinty cuts into the sky. Even in the winter-time the sky is mostly blue, a deep cerulean blue of the ocean. The highways undulate and gently curve through the solitude and there’s near to nobody else to bother you.
On the ground there’s mossy, downy grasses and soft undergrowth. It’s as though you could fall to the earth and it would embrace you and kiss you softly. I contrast this to the tinder dry and brown undergrowth of Australia, my homeland. If you take a tumble onto this ground it instead scratches and wounds you. I always found something about the latter unappealing about Australia, although petty, it’s a metaphorical idea of the earth being tough and barren, versus being verdant and pillow-soft.
Milford Sound has retained its wild beauty because of its remoteness. To get there one must travel through a avalanche and earthquake-prone one-way tunnel through a mountain.
The powers that be have wisely made it incredibly difficult to get to this place, and so Mlford Sound, although being a mecca for tourists and the most popular place for a photo-op, remains largely left to its own devices.
Here we took a short video of the trip through the mountain, note the trippy video stabilisation…
Copyright Content Catnip 2016
Once through the tunnel, you zig-zag down a perilous narrow road on the edge of a mountain where curious and cheeky keas peck at the insects on the ground. If you leave the car stationery for even a few seconds, they alight onto the windscreen and will try and rip off your windscreen wipers, just for shits and giggles. They are nature’s original trolls.
Kea are a protected alpine parrot and known as one of the most intelligent birds in the world. Their wings are a flurry of iridescent purple and orange like a summer sunset. When they fly they gleam and flash with flirtatious brilliance. At ski lodges (apparently) if you dine alfresco, they will steal your steak and have a sip of your latte when you look the other way. They are truly magnificent animals.
We got to Milford Sound for the final cruise. The sun was fast dissapearing behind the mountain. Although in terms of photography, this was certainly the best time to go and the ‘golden hour’.
The Mirror Lakes
A highlight on the road to Milford Sound is a short walk on the roadside to the Mirror Lakes. As they claim they are actually transparent and it’s possible to see right to the bottom and have this reflected into the sky. We took this short video
Night falls on Central Otago
Later on, on the drive back to Queenstown we were forced to pull over and take photos every five minutes because everything was so amazingly beautiful. This somnamulent and sleepy image was accompanied by the distant hooting of an owl, and ponies mewling and rustling the grass. An alpine bucolic scene that we will never ever forget.
It’s very easy to fall in love with this place and pledge to move here. Although it’s the ideal place if you want zero access to any shops or the mod-cons, cafes and conveniences of modern civilisation and there’s also hardly any jobs here. Therein lies the trade off. No wonder it’s a popular place to retire.
If I was to pick the most beautiful place in New Zealand, this would be it.