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.