Today was a very busy day. We started off by heading straight for Milford Sound from Te Anau. It was partly cloudy down here, but it was raining when we got there. We arrived just in time for another Milford Sound Cruise, but this time it didn't seem as good as the first time when the weather was clearing and we were visited by fur seals, penguins, and dolphins. This time, the weather remained uncooperative but we did get to see fur seals and some dolphins that weren't in the mood to show off.
Afterwards, with the bad weather, we decided against doing a day walk on the Routeburn Track towards Earland Falls and maybe Key Summit. Instead, we drove back to the end of the Lower Hollyford Road and hiked the Hollyford Track to Hidden Falls and back. Hidden Falls was gushing, but it was hard to take a photo of it given the massive amount of spray. It was a long hike, but mostly flat and comfortable despite the rain. Plus, it was nice and quiet, which was something we missed in our previous trips to Asia this year. As the afternoon progressed, the rain lightened up and eventually gave way to sun.
When we finished the hike, we decided to capitalize on the weather and return to the Milford Sound. That was when we finally got to see the spectacular scenery on the Milford Sound Highway that we never really got to see due to rain and low hanging clouds. With ephemeral waterfalls still draping the towering snowy peaks and steep U-shaped valleys very reminiscent of Yosemite, we really looked forward to seeing Milford Sound in afternoon light. But when we got there, it was still cloudy though not as disappointing as this morning.
Oh well, we tried. We ended up having dinner at one of the few places in Te Anau still open for Christmas day. And so ended a very long day. We're headed to Queenstown tomorrow, but we might take a break from the waterfalling to recuperate from today.