Photo of the Day — Dawn Road

I’ve decided to post a “photo of the day” each day, in edition to any other posts I feel inclined to generate. They will come from my library of New Zealand images taken since we arrived in Aotearoa in January 2006. In that time our family has travelled all over New Zealand, from the top of the North Island to the south of the South. In fact, I reckon we have seen more of the country than many Kiwis. Photographically there can be few places on the planet that can match the variety and splendour New Zealand has to offer the happy snapper. I can’t wait for my next trip, wherever it may turn out to be.

Eglinton Valley road in Fiordland National Park

© 2012 Mark Meredith

The Milford Road takes visitors to New Zealand’s most popular tourist destination, Milford Sound in Fiordland National Park in the south west corner of the South Island. This single road, opened in 1954, is the only way in, apart from landing by boat or small plane or walking the Milford Track. It’s certainly the most memorable road trip I’ve ever undertaken and must surely rank as one of the world’s greatest road journeys. Although some tourists arrive in Milford Sound by speeding coaches on day trips from Queenstown, many visitors base themselves in the town of Te Anau, itself set on a beautiful lake surrounded by forested peaks. From there the 120km drive to Milford Sound can be done quite speedily, if you really want to. But that would be a mistake. In order to catch one of the 9am Milford Sound cruises, you need to leave Te Anau before first light. It’s a blessing in disguise because by the time you enter Fiordland National Park and the Eglinton Valley, the dawn is breaking, illuminating the drifting mist clinging to the base of bush-clad mountains, revealing the snow-capped peaks of a breathtaking other world; one so lovely and stupendous you could weep. Yes, you could say it makes an impression. There’s much more I could say about the road, not least the endurance of the men that built it through impossibly mountainous  terrain with picks and shovels in an environment so harsh the feat defies belief. More details on another post. This photo marks just the start of the day, our journey to Milford Sound and back. The best ever day in New Zealand.

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