Our Journey down to Milford Sound started very similar to many others. We had our snacks packed, clothes prepared for all four seasons and heading downtown to the Southern Discoveries office in Queenstown. The promise of on route coffees made the 5.30am wake up call a little easier. We made our way into town sleepily and checked in with the ground crew on the wharf, hung around taking in those beautiful morning views over Lake Wakatipu.
The bus was PLUSH! The seats are comfortable and spacious. There is WiFi and charging points and best of all…. A glass roof so you don’t miss a single thing on the way down. Southern discoveries sure know how to spoil us!
Some describe Milford Sound as the 8th wonder of the world and you will have to see it with your own eyes to believe it, or take my word for it, I promise I’m telling you the truth. It is one of the most magical places on earth. You will find Milford Sound quietly tucked away at the bottom of the South Island. It will take you around 5 hours to reach from Queenstown via the road through Fiordland National park, but this includes five hours of constant jaw dropping scenery. Our first stop was Te Anu to grab some coffees and some much-needed second breakfast.
We wandered around the quaint little town trying to take in the mass of deer heads covering the walls of the cafe. We later learnt about the Deer hunting history from this part of the country along with some first-class information about local fauna and pests that we British foolishly brought onto the island many moons ago.
Mirror Lakes was our next stop off, unfortunately due to the rain there wasn’t must reflection going on but the moody atmosphere of Fiordland was creating some beautiful scenes for me to capture.
Next stop LUPINS! December is the perfect time to run amongst the lupins and take in their absolute beauty. Washing the fields with vibrant purples & blues I was in my element skipping through the wet grassland unaware of the rest of the passengers sat watching and waiting. The coach driver quickly became my friend after realising I was incapable of making it back to the bus on time like everyone else. He kindly waited as I grabbed one more photo at all the pit stops asking if I got ‘the shot’ and off we went further down into this magical part of the world.
When they say pack for all weathers, listen! It rained the whole way down, we were battered by winds and at one point felt cold enough to snow. However this place is breathtakingly beautiful in any weather. The whole place comes alive under the powers of mother nature, the mountains transform into walls of waterfalls and the mysterious fog that hangs low transports you straight into a scene out of Jurassic park. While queuing for the homer tunnel we took full advantage of the glass roof to witness the beauty around us. The driver guided us safely though the tunnel. The Homer tunnel was created in the 1950’s by blowing through a mountain. This then created the road we now all take to Milford Sound today.
What we were about to witness truly blew our socks off. The valley of a 1000 waterfalls the driver called it and he was right! The walls were covered with running water, fog rolled in through the lower valley and the whole place was alive with atmosphere. I couldn’t quiet believe it.
Back to the comfort and warmth of the coach we were on the home stretch to the boat. As soon as we pulled up, noted where our boat departed from we jumped off and ran around taking some photos away from the hustle & bustle in the terminal, which in my eyes is worse than an actual airport terminal or a shopping mall the week before Christmas. We were happy to take in the sights and little sound away from the crowds.
Running for transport quick became our speciality and we boarded the boat ready for our two-hour nature cruise around the sounds. Pulling out of the dock into the shadows of Mitre peak is jaw dropping. The boat hugs the left of the sound getting you close enough to the mountains to appreciate the sheer size of them and catch the mist on your face from all the falling water. Milford Sound was carved by glaciers way back in the ice age leaving us with monumental cliffs that rise vertically from below and host some of the most dramatic waterfalls ive ever seen.
The captain got us close enough to rocks to see the resident seals basking in the afternoon sunshine. Oh yeah It was now stifling hot. It was still windy but the weather gods turned it on as soon as we got out on the water. We were enjoying what the rain had created from the past few days without having to hide inside.
Towards the end of the cruise the boat will make its way toward Stirling falls, Robbie had convinced me we wouldn’t get that wet if we stayed outside and with a little help from the on board MC we were all stood waiting to get drenched by the biggest waterfall I have ever seen. I thought it might be a quick whip under and back but I recon I had my years worth of showers in the time we spent under the fall! Huddling as close to Robbie’s back to not only protect my camera gear but also the small part of my body that appeared to still be dry. The side door swung open and us ladies made a dash for the dry as the captain pulled us away and back out into the peacefulness of the sounds.
I saw the port coming closer to us and wished it away, I could have stayed out there for hours taking in the incredible beauty. I stole one last look at those awe inspiring views before joining the rest of the pasengers to disembark who were all equally as blown away. Back on dry land sporting our newly washed outfits we made our way back to the bus and homeward bound to Queenstown.
If you have the means to get yourself to Milford Sound in your lifetime, I highly suggest you do, if you don’t, try to find a way or at the very least I hope this blog has given you a glimpse of this incredible place. I have been infected by it’s magic & I know one day I will return.
Thank you Southern Discoveries for transporting us to another world so close to home. The Coach & Cruise package from Queenstown is an excellent way to sit back, relax and enoy the beauty on display!