Let the River Run
A small distance from the eastern portal of the Homer Tunnel as you head towards Te Anau is a road on the left that leads to the Homer Hut and the start of the Gertrude Saddle track. Just after entering of the road is a car park beside the upper reaches of the Hollyford River. At this point the valley is quite wide. Further downriver the the valley narrows markedly and the river runs more swiftly. The Milford Sound Highway follows the river before the road veers away to pass through “The Divide” between the Darren and Livingstone mountain ranges.
This image was taken from the car park on the Homer Hut Road. At this point the flow is quite placid. The river flows from the Gertrude Valley (out of picture to the left) and follows the main Milford Sound Highway for some ten kilometers before the road turns towards Te Anau.
Side streams enter the flow all down the river, especially after heavy rain. There is no vegetation to retain the water on the mountain slopes so there is only one way for it to go – down. As the water dissipates after a storm many of the side streams dry up until the next deluge, as has happened here. This view is directly behind the one above.
Several kilometers down the road the mood of the river changes markedly as rapids impede the flow. It now looks like the kind of mountain river that reflects the looming power of the steep mountains that feed it. After heavy rain the water powers through the narrow valley and rages over the rapids. All obstacles are swept away. All that can be done is to let the river run.