Milford Sound and Wanaka

Milford Sound, like Queenstown, was described to me as a must-visit when touring the south island of New Zealand. One local couple I met on a city bus described the Sound as the most beautiful place in all of the country. With so many incredible mountain views and landscapes I’m not sure how one could pick just a winner for that title but it certainly did not disappoint, even with less than perfect weather.

I had seen advertisements on the city bus for a package listed at $159, and an over-friendly driver offered to give me 5% off (for what, in return, I dared not ask). I instead decided to pop into one of the many travel offices around Queenstown and got a package for $119 through a company called Jucy. Should someone randomly find this blog while researching Milford, be aware that this is a full-day trip; I was picked up at 8:15 AM and returned to my hostel around 9:00 PM.

The trip from Queenstown to Milford takes about four hours, but we took our time for bathroom breaks, photo ops, and lunch. This was no boring drive through Nebraska. The mountain passes were incredible, but if you’ve been keeping up with my posts that will come as no surprise. My photography skills and equipment can’t do justice to the landscapes but at one stop the first thing that came to mind was… This is where gods are created.

Unfortunately the weather took a turn for the worse and clouds rolled in by time we arrived at the Sound. What the heck is a “sound” anyway? I think there’s some discrepancy in the use of the word but basically a sound is a large inlet from a larger body of water, in this case the Tasman Sea. In any case, we hopped on a ferry and set off to discover the sound, its waterfalls, and its wildlife. The clouds and fog made photography difficult but lent an eery spookiness to the landscape. I was particularly taken by the scene of a little ferry boat dominated by the mountain beside it. Our skilled ferry captain snuck up to a pod of sleeping seals and gave us a great view. Uncle Bob and Steve, can you see them?

I’m starting to really appreciate these older bus drivers who at first seem a but gruff but are good guys down deep. Though most of the passengers probably hated it, on our long drive home we were treated to a live Queen concert and a showing of The Blues Brothers on the bus’s A/V system. 🙂


After a great week in Queenstown I hopped a bus and headed north about an hour up to Wanaka. Much like Queenstown, Wanaka is a little tourist town on a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains. Since both my body and bank account needed a break I had planned to take it easy but my love of mountain biking got the best of me. I rented a bike and first explored (read: got lost in) an area called the Sticky Forest. The trails looked like fun but I couldn’t put them together in any logical order so I rode to a seven-mile loop called Deans Bank. I wish I could have transported my biking buddies here for a romp around this awesome trail. A few pics when I stopped to catch my breath…

In just a bit I’ll cruise up to Christchurch, my last stop in New Zealand.

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6 thoughts on “Milford Sound and Wanaka

  1. David says:

    I feel as though I am becoming an exercise in redundancy—it seems that everything I have to say is some single word adjective, that is fueled (over and over again) by the beauty and majesty of all you are talking about and showing in your pics. Your little bird friend is just as cute as can be, and I can see seals for certain this time too. This clarity of the sky in the bottom two pictures is amazing, and reminds me of some of the skies I have seen in some areas of our own great southwest. But the cooler part would certainly be the eerie fog, and how it would re-develop the area into something unusually spectacular. Again, how flippin’ cool! Don’t know if you’ve heard, but BOTH the men Cards, and the lady Cards are in the Final Four, and it is pretty exciting. And our weather is beginning to act the least bit like Spring should be beginning to be. I drove past your house today, and there was a furniture piece in the front yard with “things” on it that I assume were for sale, and all looked well, but I doubt that it can go without a mowing or two before you return. Since I have a house and garage key, I am happy to intro myself to your renters, and take care of this for you. I also took care of your compressor. Hope you are having an adventure of a lifetime, and Judy and I love reading about your excursions. Be safe, have fun. Love unc

  2. Mike M. says:

    I’ve enjoyed all of the images you have shared to date. The latest round of pics are awesome. Glad to see you are enjoying your experience. My brother-in-law is from Christchurch, he was there a few weeks back… too bad he isn’t still there, I could have had him meet up with you to show you around. ;). Enjoy the rest of your adventure and keep the pictures coming.

  3. Uncle Bob says:

    First of all, about the seals,YES I see these because they are there. Before I’m still doubtful. I don’t know about Steve but I think you are a smartypance to point me and your bro out like that. Even David is not sure they were there last time.
    Now to the good stuff. I have noticed from your pictures the weather change have given you many looks at the places you have traveled. They have been amazing, yes the seals too, ha. There looks to be more mountains than valleys to live in. Keep it going, take care, be safe.
    Uncle Bob

  4. Meg says:

    I love Milford Sound. I was there on a cloudy day too, and it is really beautiful. I’m dying to go back, reading about all your travels!

  5. Sarah P says:

    Maybe it’s called a sound because the only thing you can hear is the sound of your soul. Looks amazing Scott. I’ve been loving reading your posts and yes, the cost breakdowns are helpful and an inspiring way to help wana-be adventurers to go for it!

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