Mystical Milford Sound…

Mystical Milford Sound…

Our visit to Milford Sound was without a doubt one of the major highlights of our road trip around New Zealand. Once again, it is a place that is surrounded by lots of hype, with numerous people proclaiming it to be one of the most beautiful places on earth. Well, we were about to find out that they were pretty much right!

We first had to make our way across the country from Balclutha on the East Coast. We camped near the town and drove from there straight to Lake Manapouri, near Te Anau. Te Anau is the ‘gateway’ to Fiordland National Park which is home to Milford Sound.

Lake Manapouri was beautiful and had an amazing mountain backdrop. We stopped here to have some lunch before completing the journey to Te Anau, 25 minutes up the road.

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After a brief stop in town, we started to drive up the Milford Sound Road – one of the most breathtaking roads we have ever driven on. Non-stop the journey is supposed to take around an hour and a half to reach Milford Sound, but with all the fantastic sights en route, it’s impossible to do it in less than two hours! We decided to break the drive up and went as far as Lake Gunn before stopping for the night at a DOC (Department of Conservation) campsite – a beautiful setting and a snip at $5.10 each.

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Unfortunately, we didn’t get the greatest night sleep, despite the idyllic setting, as it rained constantly all night long. We were parked underneath quite a few trees so the rain pounded onto Fred’s roof with such force that we didn’t get any peace and quiet!

We later discovered however, that lots of rain at Milford Sound can only be a good thing! True beauty comes at a price and if it wasn’t for the rain, we wouldn’t have witnessed such amazing waterfalls and lush green valleys as we continued our journey the next day!

The road wound dramatically past glacier-carved mountains, valleys and rivers, with huge waterfalls falling down the steep mountain sides. The sheer amount of waterfalls was unbelievable – the heavy rain had obviously had a brilliant side effect and the power of the water was immense.

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Once we arrived at Milford Sound itself we took a walk around the foreshore for our first glimpse of the famous fiord.

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We then took a two hour nature cruise with Mitre Peaks Cruises through Milford Sound, which in our opinion is the best way to soak up the iconic imagery. The cruise took us past steep mountains, powerful waterfalls and Fur Seal colonies. Thankfully the heavy rain of the previous evening had been replaced by stunning sunshine, so sitting up on the top deck was brilliant. Our skipper was also great and told us all about the geology of the area as we sailed out towards the Tasman Sea.

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At $80 each the cruise was well worth the money and was an experience that we won’t forget in a hurry. The amazing scenery didn’t stop there however as on our way back down to Te Anau we stopped at numerous lookouts along the Milford Sound Road…

Lake Marian Falls
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Monkey Creek Lookout
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Eglinton Valley Lookout
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Halfway between the equator (which we visited two months ago!) and the South Pole!
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Funky sign at the Mirror Lakes
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Lake Te Anau at dusk
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That evening we camped at a DOC site called Henry Creek, 25 km north of Te Anau and thankfully had a much better night’s sleep! The next morning we had breakfast overlooking the town and lake at the Ramparts Road lookout, before visiting the free DOC birdlife park near the centre of town.

Ramparts Road Lookout
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Native Wood Pigeon
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Endangered Takahe
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New Zealand Kaka
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The world’s only alpine parrot, the Kea
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Finally, we paid a visit to the DOC visitor centre which gave us a bit more info on the geology of the area as well as the wildlife that can be found in Fiordland. This marked the end of our stay in the national park – a stunning area of natural beauty that epitomises what New Zealand is all about. We wouldn’t hesitate to return here one day but had to leave it behind for now as we had an even more exciting adventure to take part in! We were off to Queentown, the adventure capital of the world, where we were ready to test ourselves and take on the mental challenge of a lifetime!…

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