New Zealand: Milford Sound

The first stop on our whirlwind trip to New Zealand was Milford Sound. It actually was supposed to be the very last thing we did, but circumstances – that I’ll get to in a different post – caused us to flip our entire itinerary around and start in the south.

After a quick flight to Auckland from Sydney we immediately grabbed our bags and checked in to our Air New Zealand flight to Queenstown. By the time we touched down it was already after 9:00 p.m. and we had a nearly two hour drive to Te Anau before we could call it quits for the day. And, of course, the next day we had a two hour drive to Milford Sound to make our kayaking trip at 8:00 a.m. This itinerary is not for the faint of heart people!

Our Bed & Breakfast was so accommodating and understanding of our crazy schedule. I’m sure we aren’t the first – or the last – to sprint around the South Island. They met us at 11:30 at night to check us in, and were up at 6:00 a.m. with a warm breakfast and tea prepared just for us. Also, they have a sweet, snugly cat. What more do you want?

After a rainy, windy, drive to Milford Sound, we learned kayaking was cancelled for the day. The winds were way to strong and unpredictable it simply wasn’t safe. Disappointed but not defeated, we went to the welcome center to regroup. Luckily there was a cruise leaving in about 45 minutes so we quickly bought tickets and headed to the boat dock.

Once on the water, it was extremely obvious why kayaking was not allowed that day. I’ve never see such an angry ocean or so much hail in my life. For someone who has never (yes, really, never) kayaked before, I was quite happy to be safely on the boat that morning.

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If you happen to hit Milford Sound on a day like we did, try not to be too disappointed. It’s still stunningly beautiful, and you get to see things you wouldn’t on a clear and sunny day. When it rains, hundreds of temporary waterfalls work their way down the mountains to deposit rainwater into the sound. Plus, when the sun does peek out, you get some neat contrast on the mountains. The day definitely did not feel like a loss.

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On the way out of the national park, we stopped a few times along the way to see a few highlights including “The Chasm” cut by the Cleddau River and Mirror Lakes. It was still rainy and we were getting cold so we didn’t spend as much time as we’d like out there. Definitely on the list of things to do when we return.

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Travel Notes:

  • Where We Stayed: Alpine Rock Cottage, Te Anau
  • Cruise Company: Southern Discoveries
  • Kayak Company: Rosco’s Milford Kayaks
  • New Zealand is full of information centers call iSites. Event the tiniest towns we went through had them. Super helpful staff and lots of maps and brochures for the taking.
  • Even though we hadn’t planned going “backwards” when we went south to north, it worked out really well. We felt like we were constantly heading in the opposite directions of the crowds which was nice.

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