We left Wanaka in route to Te Anau, the gateway to Milford Sound. We were both very excited to spend some time in the Fiordlands, but again the weather had other plans. The big storm appeared to be following us!
We took the Crown Range road from Wanaka, the highest sealed road in New Zealand. It offered some beautiful views and was a nice drive. As we drove we talked about what we wanted to do in the Fiordlands. We both had really wanted to see Doubtful Sound, but after seeing that the price was double that of the Milford Sound cruises, we decided to go with Milford Sound and hoped to camp along Milford road for a few days. We stopped in Queenstown, which looked like a great place, but we were just there for groceries! We stocked up and continued on the road to Te Anau.
We arrived at our camp for the night and learned that our plans were going to change! We had one more day until the storm came in and decided, after lots of debating, to take a bus trip out to the Milford Sound the next morning instead of slowly driving ourselves out. We wanted to see the mountains and Milford Sound on a clear day if possible. We weren’t sure about the bus trip idea, but it turned out being really nice. Our driver, Simon, picked us up in the morning at our camp and we were happy to see it was a small bus, not the giant ones we had already seen! Simon and the Eco Tour was great. He truly loves what he does and since it was a clear day he was just as excited as we were to make lots of stops along the way. On two of our stops, we saw a Kea which is the world’s only alpine parrot and a bit of a nuisance when it decides to pick at the rubber trim of vehicles. They’ve even proved to take down a sheep entirely on their own. This one landed on a car at our stop and was demanding they share their lunch with him.
Milford Road was amazing! The mountains, rivers and lakes were unlike anything we had seen before. It had such a tranquil feel to it all. We made stops at Mirror Lake, Homer Tunnel, the Chasm and many more.
Once we arrived at the end of the road we picked up our lunch (that was included) and headed onto the boat. We were again pleased to see that we were on one of the much smaller boats. We spent 1.5 hours out in Milford Sound cruising close to the sheer cliffs and viewing seals along the way. We even went under a waterfall! The 1.5 hours went by much too fast.
The ride home included all the scenic stops we missed heading out and Simon was great with telling us tons of information about the area. Milford Sound ended up being one of our favorite areas in New Zealand. We really wish we could have spent a few more days in the area! The pictures just don’t do it justice.