So in a surreal blur, I was no longer in Auckland but first in snowy Queenstown meeting my new team, being supplied with uniform and getting taken into Te Anau, the last outpost before the road to Milford. As I would be in Milford for 10 days of work, it was time to prepare everything I would need, a mammoth food and alcohol shop, encouraged by Chris’s concerned musings of ‘do you think she has got enough wine to last her?’
Early Tuesday morning Lisa and I took the scenic drive into my new place of work. As a boat host I would be working for Cruise Milford either assisting visitors with check in at the terminal, or cruising three times a day on the boat. Having fallen in love with this place when visiting in February I was excited to be back, in disbelief that this was my home now and feeling incredibly well looked after.
My one concern about Milford, would there be good coffee, was met almost immediately with a resoundingly positive yes. Coffee is currency and is taken very seriously. It was second only to beer which of course is a safety ballast and prevents crew dehydration, a very important thing indeed!
The relaxed kiwi attitude is magnified in Fiordland, and I was also quickly made aware that there was no ‘normal’ in Milford. Storms swept through the first night meaning a mass of waterfalls throughout the fiord on my first cruising day. On day 3 we watched a landslip of trees next to the terminal building wiping out the sheds containing gas canisters below and causing complete evacuation. Day 4 we took a BBQ out to the Tasman sea to film shots for our new promo video in which I had a staring role of looking longingly at the BBQ and toasting sparkling wine into the sunset. On a few lucky days, a playful group of bottle nose dolphins frolicked alongside the bow of the boat leaping a clean three metres from the water and playing in the wake of the boat.
Throughout the time I quite literally ‘learnt the ropes’ as I became initiated to tying up and releasing the boat before each sailing and at the end of the day. I stood in the wheelhouse with the skipper having a go at manoeuvring the boat and asking all the boaty questions I could think of.