A fellow traveler once told me that I would benefit from doing things that made me uncomfortable. Filled with that wisdom (and nervous excitement), I found myself standing in front of Milford Sound Lodge in New Zealand, waiting to be picked up for my first sea kayaking adventure. As the van pulled towards the lodge, I felt my body begin to tense up. I am a horrible swimmer and, consequently, water sports make me nervous. However, on that day I decided to conquer my fear in exchange for a spectacular adventure.
When I arrived at Milford Sound, I put my faith in Rosco’s Milford Kayaks to help me conquer my fear. Rosco’s is a great organization because they make kayaking Milford Sound accessible to everyone. The company has a partnership with the Milford Sound Lodge to pick up and drop off guests. This helps travelers without personal transportation to experience the majesty of the sound. Rosco’s also provides all the gear, a quick lesson in kayaking, and various tours to accommodate all fitness levels. The gear they provide includes necessary kayak equipment, a dry bag for a camera and food, and waterproof and thermal clothing. The lesson includes a variety of safety tips, rowing practice, and lessons in maneuvering a kayak.
Rosco’s picked me up from the Milford Sound Lodge at 8:00 am for the Sunriser Classic tour. This is one of their more popular tours because it is a half-day trip that is cheaper than most of their other tours of Milford Sound. Once at Rosco’s kayak lodge, a friendly staff member gave a welcoming speech and had everyone sign a waiver to protect them from any death or destruction that may occur while kayaking. After signing my life away, I was fitted with all the appropriate gear and given a kayak. Everyone else in my group had a partner traveling with them, but I was traveling solo so I was paired with our group’s tour guide, Abby. Score!
Abby spends her summers in Fiordland National Park guiding kayaking tours. The rest of the year she searches for warm weather in order to organize other outdoor activities. How awesome is that? I was lucky to be paired with Abby because she helped put my mind at ease while maneuvering the kayak. I was also able to learn many interesting facts about Milford Sound and New Zealand. Abby was a great tour guide and showed us waterfalls, rivers, plants, and fantastic animals. We also got a great view of the Pembroke Glacier (pictured below).
One of the animals we saw was the pied shag (pictured below). This bird is a crafty hunter, diving into the fjord for its meals. However, having no predators in New Zealand, this bird did not develop a natural way of drying its feathers. Consequently, after the bird eats, it spends the rest of the day sitting in a tree to dry. This evolutionary pattern has created some peculiar bird species, many of which are unable to fly.
After a long morning of kayaking, the Rosco’s van drove me back to the Milford Sound Lodge, where I had a hot lunch and cold beer. With no regrets, I enjoyed my meal with immense satisfaction. I will never forget my sea kayaking experience. Now I am ready for my next water adventure.
Below, enjoy a handful of photos from my day on Milford Sound. Fun fact, Milford Sound was incorrectly named as a sound. It is actually a fjord, since it was carved by a glacier instead of a river. Milford Sound is a popular destination within Fiordland National Park, which is home to a temperate rainforest and fourteen fjords. Fiordland receives seven meters of rain and averages 200 rain days per year. The park also boasts some of the best hiking trails and tracks in the world. I recommend packing rain gear, hiking boots, and insect repellent for those pesky black flies!