The tourism potential of Fiordland's Milford Sound was recognised in the late 1800s. The problem was getting there. Pushing a road across the Main Divide was feasible, but between the headwaters of the Hollyford and Cleddau valleys was an almost-sheer 500 metre granite wall. The Homer Tunnel, 20 years in the making, provided the solution, and today visitors emerging from the Cleddau portal descend a sealed slalom that offers few clues as to the difficulty of building or maintaining a road in such precipitous country.
A snap cold spell transforms a waterfall on Wye Creek, near Queenstown, into an icicle cascade, and beckons a special breed of adventurer-the ice climber-to its cold clutches. New formations like this one are difficult and dangerous to climb: the ice, not yet matured by extended cooling, is brittle, and it is not uncommon for chunks weighing up to half a tonne to shear off and crash to the ground. Allan Uren, one of the country's leading exponents of the sport, abseils down to look for a climbable route.