We spent last week in the southwest corner of the South Island, in Manapouri, Te Anau, and Fiordland National Park, which undoubtedly is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Fiordland National Park and Milford & Doubtful Sounds are UNESCO World Heritage Sites and for good reason. Some people say they are better than Yosemite or the Grand Canyon, but in some ways they reminded us of Zion National Park, with the constant ohhh’s and ahhh’s along the drive.
From Queenstown, you travel Milford Road to Milford Sound. Our first pull off was at Mirror Lakes, which was a little less than breathtaking because of the 200+ tourists pouring down the little walkway, but still worth the stop. The reflections were really cool in the photos.
Next we stopped at The Chasm, which was a short little loop walk just off Milford Rd with another line to the view. You just have to take it easy and wait for your chance at the railing, enjoy, and ignore the million snapping cameras around you. The Chasm is described by the guidebook, NZ Frenzy, as, “The somewhat mellow-flowing Cleddau River literally turns on its side and knifes through a swiss cheese of crazed rock sculpturing. The suddenly-pinched river roars in surprise as it plunges into a dark abyss.” It was pretty cool, but if you ever go, stop on your way back from Milford Sound, it will be less crowded and more enjoyable!
We also stopped for a quick lunch on the side of the road with a view to eat our Miles Better Pies, we bought on the way in Te Anau.
Soon, we arrived at the Milford Sound Passenger Terminal.
We have been told that it rains here 2 out of 3 days of the year, but we struck gold with an absolute bluebird day for our cruise, and only Mom went away with a few bites from the dreaded sandflies.
The cruise was ultimately relaxing. Compared to our other adventures, we just sat back on the upper deck of the small vessel, hooked our legs over the rails for a perfect viewing position, cozied under our sweaters, and tried to close our mouths occasionally. Waterfalls dotted the landscape everywhere.
The captain explained Milford is actually not a “sound,” but a “fjord” because it was created by glaciers.
The seals resting on the rocks were an added delight, with the bull waving lazily at us a few times, while his harem lounged around him.
We all wimped out on the waterfall shower encouraged by the captain, but New Zealand is a little cold for swimming to us Southerners.
One of my favorite parts was where the fjord opened into the sea, and you could see all the pounding waves on the rocks after being protected for the first part of your journey within.
The cruise lasted about 2 hours and then we slowly made our way back along the Milford Rd to our little home in Manapouri. We were so grateful for the gorgeous day and our superlative opportunity.