Getting out to Milford Sound during this trip was always going to be a bit.. tricky. At least half of the group were not especially fond of waking up early early, or long car trips. I managed to convince everyone by promising that Milford Sound is an incredible sight, and woke up extra early to make everyone a delicious breakfast.
There was also the promise of snow.
Tate and I had been obsessively checking the weather app on our smartphones for up-to-the-minute snow predictions- “it’s going to snow at 9PM! it’s snow… it’s supposed to be snowing now!” – but they proved to be mostly inaccurate. This wasn’t the case for the road between Te Anau and Milford, which had been inundated with snow the previous evening and had been closed until further notice.
It was before sunrise and extremely cold outside, but sleepy and with full bellies, we set off. We chatted briefly while settling in on the road, but as soon as we were properly on our way, everyone quickly nodded off. About half an hour into our trip, the conditions changed and I realised that IT WAS ACTUALLY SNOWING OUTSIDE. I advised the sleepy inhabitants of the car and Rachael let me know that there was no way it was actually snowing. Carried away with childish excitement, I abruptly pulled the car over and convinced everyone to wake up and enjoy the snow with me. Tate and Tim obliged:
Not satisfied with stopping the car once to jump around in falling snow, I made an executive decision to pull over again when we were closer to Te Anau. In my defense, we were making excellent time and everyone was awake enough to enjoy it. I took the opportunity to Facetime with mum and show her the amazing snow.
We stopped briefly in Te Anau to enjoy some local coffee (it was fine) and to check the status of the road. We consulted some tour operators that were in the cafe and they agreed that the best course of action was to head out to where the road was closed and wait for it to open – the worst possible outcome would be that we’d get to see some beautiful countryside and then have to come back.
We drove for about half an hour, and then all of a sudden there was SNOW. EVERYWHERE.
Naturally, I forced everyone out of the car to play in the snow. Again.
After we had satisfied my urges to play in the snow, we were back on our way out to Milford Sound. We had been warned that the gate was still locked, and as we approached the tunnel there was a long row of cars, doors open, with tourists hurriedly fitting snow chains. We followed suit (and became experts in snow chain application) and were on our way again. We realised that the van in front of us was operated by the same company as our boat tour, so I followed it all the way to the terminal and threw Rachel out of the car to make sure the boat didn’t leave while we were parking and running to the terminal.