Milford Sound is said to be a scenic utopia and New Zealand at its glorious and unparalleled best. And oh my goodness – another one, brace yourself! – it did not disappoint. What a breathtaking place!!
Milford Sound is part of the Fjordland National Park, which as a definite must-do on everyones travel itinerary. Passing through the Milford Tunnel (1,200m long, carved out of the mountain in over 13 years) you are, if lucky, presented with a stunning view of the fjord and surrounding mountains and plenty of waterfalls. We were greeted with a wall of fog. Ha ha!
Our guides dropped us off at the gate, we checked in and boarded our sailing boat, the Milford Wanderer. Cute little cabins, shared bathrooms but all to a very good standard. The tea/coffee bar was open 24/7. We were told that normally it rains in Milford Sound, they are ‘blessed’ with over 200 rainy days a year, but did I mention before that wherever we go we bring the sunshine with us?! We have not had one rainy day (except for light drizzle one morning on Fox Glacier). So of course we enjoyed the cruise in blazing sunshine and clear blue skies.
We walked a short part of the famous Milford Sound Trail, which in total is 32.4km long. That area looked like the movie set of Jurassic Park, and it is worth mentioning that ‘Walking with Dinosaurs’ was filmed there. Everything is of a different scale there, 3m high ferns, young trees that are only 250 years old, and we saw the fern (tiny leaves) that allegedly triggered the ice age by storing so much water that it changed the climate on the ground. We also tasted the leaves of the Pepper Tree (yes, they are very spicy) and stroked the branches of a female and male tree (with the female branch being very soft, the male one very stubbly) (I am trying to find the name of said tree).
We spent the longest day of the year on board, which means I had two longest days of the year this year, and no shortest one! 😉 So I went to bed in bright daylight.
The next morning we went further into the fjords which are glacier built, out on the Tasman Sea. We saw seals swimming alongside our ship and sunbathing on the rocks. And we met a family of dolphins, jumping and racing next to the ship. Some had babies with them – what a wonderful sight! It was the first time I saw dolphins, I was so delighted and ooh-ing and ahh-ing. Loved it. 🙂
We arrived back at the harbour mid-morning, Kate and Andrew were waiting for us already. It felt like being picked up by your parents after a school trip, everyone telling them at the same time what we did and saw. Ha ha! And we were back on the road again, now on our way to Queenstown. Of course we can’t have a day without a hike, this time we stopped at the famous Routeburn Track. If you wanted to walk the complete track you’d need to calculate with about three nights in overnight shelters. We hiked a side route of the track, which took us just under 3 hours. Again, awarded with the famous views of the glaciers. I honestly can’t get enough of it, and I keep wondering why I still love living in the city so much. I may just need the right incentive to move to the countryside. And there are some serious considerations going on about a (temporary at first) relocation to NZ. We also got acquainted to the Kea, a big parrot-like bird that steals everything that’s not too heavy. They are know for stealing hiking poles, hiking boots and windscreen wipers. They can open the zipper of a tent and empty it out. Also, they work in flocks so help each other out. Our guides told us some astonishing stories… We still had all of our belongings when we left though.