After a long coach ride (including an early morning and some very detailed commentary about the farms, trees and rocks that we passed) we made it from Queenstown to Milford Sound by lunchtime on Tuesday. Despite a serious weather warning for wind and storms, the sky was blue and it was hot. This meant we had been able to make the most of photo stops on the way (walking quickly to keep ahead of the rest of the coach, who were on a day trip and, well let’s just say they fit every stereo type of coach-tour-tourists). I was just happy to be able to get off, as I had been wondering if we should have rented a car for this bit so that I could get all of the photos of the scenery as we drove through the Nation Park. We made stops at the amazing Mirror Lakes, and the hilarious Knob’s Flat, before heading through the Homer Tunnel and stopping finally at The Chasm (double rainbow!).
We were staying at the beautiful and hidden Milford Lodge, one of the only places to actually stay at Milford Sound. It was a really cosy place, right of the edge of one of the rivers that lead into the sound/fiord. The woman at the desk suggested that we make the most of the good weather and head on the cruise that afternoon. We were tired from the travelling though and figured it would be as good the next day so relaxed in the lounge instead, meeting some interesting characters (a very sweet German girl, who became our monopoly buddy, and a very opinionated couple from UK who had perhaps drunk a little too much local wine!).
The next day we woke up to clouds! They got gradually worse as the day went on and by the time we left the lodge in the afternoon you could feel the storm building up. We spent a while walking around to the viewpoint and taking silly photos before heading
to the boat terminal for the last cruise of the day, a two hour nature cruise. On the good ship Sinbad we were joined by about 15 other people which was enough to not feel like the only ones on board, but it meant we could move around the boat a lot and get some great photos. The cruise was brilliant, and we got to see fur seals and penguins, as well as seeing a very moody Milford Sound.
We got a little wind-beaten by the end of it, but there were hot drinks on tap and we had come prepared (although I could have done with a headband/hat!). Definitely a highlight of the trip so far.
The next day we headed out to Te Anau, a tiny little town on the edge of the fiords where we have been relaxing and preparing for a few long days of coach journeys, as we make our way back up the centre of the island to Mount Cook.
Nic & Rob