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Into The Fiordland of Milford Sound

  • July 15, 2016
  • By 50 Shades
  • 6 Comments
Entrance to Milford Sound from the Tasman Sea

Entrance to Milford Sound from the Tasman Sea

It was one of those travel experiences that we have wanted to do for a while and we knew that it involved a very long drive through mountainous terrain from Queenstown. However Milford Sound on the south west of New Zealand’s South Island, within Fiordland National Park was never going to disappoint.

The sun shedding a little light on the Mountains surrounding Lake Wakatipu

The sun shedding a little light on the Mountains surrounding Lake Wakatipu

Milford Sound is 295km from Queenstown and involves over four hours of travel through some of the most spectacular countryside you will ever see. We departed Queenstown very early, before the sun was really up and wound our way around the gentle curves of Lake Wakatipu, watching the sun starting to peek through the mountains that surround the lake.

Sheep Farms near Kingston

Sheep Farms near Kingston

Once we reached Kingston, a small town at the southernmost end of Lake Wakatipu, the terrain flattened out a little and we travelled through lush green farmlands, consisting mainly of sheep, cattle and deer. Orange-brown Tussock grasslands sometimes broke up the patchwork of green pastures.

Tussock Grasslands and Green Fields

Tussock Grasslands and Green Fields

The lush green farmlands with the backdrop of snow-capped mountains, continued through the small towns of Five Rivers and Mossburn.

Farmlands and Mountains

Farmlands and Mountains

The easy rolling countryside soon leads you to the shores of Lake Te Anau, the biggest of the South Island’s many lakes. Here we stopped for breakfast and a toilet break, plus a quick look around town. On the western side of Te Anau, the long arms of the lake disappear into the looming, densely forested Murchison Mountains.

Lake Te Anau

Lake Te Anau

Very soon the gates of Fiordland National Park indicate the start of the amazing Milford Road with towering peaks, tranquil lakes, crystal clear rivers and dense rainforest making this one of the world’s most spectacular drives.

Mountain River on the Milford Road

Mountain River on the Milford Road

The road to Milford Sound passes through stunning landscapes including mountain ranges, glacier-carved valleys, clear blue lakes and native rainforest. We stopped at the glacier-carved Eglinton Valley, where the Eglinton river traverses through.

Eglington Glacier Valley

Eglinton Glacier Valley

Further on we enjoyed a stroll on the boardwalk around the Mirror Lakes, which perfectly reflects the scenery around it. Very stunning!

Mirror Lakes

Mirror Lakes

Just before Milford Sound the road travels through the Homer Tunnel, a 1.2km-long tunnel passing through solid rock.

Nelson Tunnel through the Pass on the Milford Road

Homer Tunnel through the Pass on the Milford Road

Gorgeous mountain vistas at The Pass

Gorgeous mountain vistas at The Pass

The mountainous terrain of the Darrans is jaw droppingly beautiful which looks almost impenetrable in places. The steep rocky slopes have cascading waterfalls from the snow melting above on the caps.

Darran Mountain Range

Darran Mountain Range

The Chasm, halfway between the Homer Tunnel and Milford Sound; is worth a stop to take a short walk through the forest, and cross footbridges over the Cleddau River, to experience dramatic views of powerful waterfalls and sculpted shapes and basins in the rock, which have been formed over thousands of years by the swirling waters.

The Chasm Waterfall

The Chasm Waterfall

After departing Queenstown in the early hours we finally reached Milford Sound and were quickly hustled aboard our cruise boat for the 16km journey down the length of the fiord to the open sea.

Views down the Fiord

Views down the Fiord

Aboard the Cruise Boat on the Sound

Aboard the Cruise Boat on the Sound

Bounded by steep cliffs and dense rainforest, Milford Sound is by far the best known of all of the fiords in New Zealand, and the only one that can be accessed by road. At the pinnacle of Milford Sound is the iconic Mitre Peak – standing a proud 1,692 metres above sea level, it is certainly an impressive sight to behold.

Milford Sound

Milford Sound with Mitre Peak on left

As we cruised down the sound we were treated to a couple of Fur Seals perched on the rocks and then a pod of Bottlenose Dolphins breeching in the crystal clear waters.

Seal on the rocks at Milford Sound

Seal on the rocks at Milford Sound

There are many waterfalls on the mountain sides with the most prolific being the famous Bowen Falls, where the boat edges it way to almost right under the falls. If you are game and don’t mind getting a little wet you can stand out on the stern of the boat for a great photo opportunity right under the falls.

Bowen Falls, Milford Sound

Bowen Falls, Milford Sound

The cruise takes 1 hour and 40 minutes and you can have lunch and a drink aboard whilst enjoying the magical views of the Sound. During the warmer months you can paddle under your own power by going on a sea kayaking tour down the fiord.

More spectacular mountain vistas on Milford Road

More spectacular mountain vistas on Milford Road

It is such a long drive for such a short cruise, but fully worthwhile for the stunning drive alone. Milford Sound is one of those experiences where the destination is made even better by the journey. However if your budget allows I would recommend driving one way and returning by either plane or helicopter.

Our Milford Sound coach and cruise tour was with Jucy Cruize and cost us around $130 each.

Linking up with Weekend Travel Inspiration

 

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By 50 Shades, July 15, 2016 Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.
  • 6

50 Shades

Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.

6 Comments
  • Jim ~ ReflectionsEnroute
    July 17, 2016

    What a gorgeous drive! That is right up our alley, I love a road trip. #wkendtravelinspiration

    • Kathy
      July 17, 2016

      It was a gorgeous drive, albeit a long an exhausting day, but fully worthwhile for the remarkable scenery which was everywhere. Road trips are the best! :)

  • Johanna A Castro (@JohannaACastro)
    July 17, 2016

    Sometimes long exhausting days are just so worth it and your photos of the Milford Sound are testament to one of those days. What a stunning area, one that I long to visit. It looked so chilly but beanie and thick coat are nice to wear sometimes too! I also love road trips – and this one must be up there with the best. We’ve just been to Sydney in Nova Scotia and some people went on the Cabot Trail which I believe is a world class road trail too – which I’d love to do.

    • Kathy
      July 17, 2016

      It was very chilly in NZ the entire time we were there. Definitely beanie, gloves and ski jacket weather! The drive to Milford Sound really blew me away – so much breathtaking scenery at every turn. I believe Nova Scotia is a very scenic place. I would love to travel to this side of Canada one day. :)

  • Michelle Weaver (@pinkypoinker)
    July 18, 2016

    It looks like heaven. Is that where they filmed Lord of the Rings? I want to go so badly.

    • Kathy
      July 18, 2016

      The South Island of New Zealand really is one the most picturesque places on earth. I think they did a lot filming for Lord of The Rings in this area. :)

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