To complete the whole South Island experience, you definitely have to make a trip to the visit the wondrous Fiordlands of New Zealand. In our case, we chose to visit the ever so famous Milford Sounds. Prior to the trip we considered renting a car and driving by ourselves from Queenstown, but after doing a little of research and factoring the high costs of fuel it was much more economical and way more comfortable to just join a bus tour, as we don’t have to undergo a 10 hour return drive. Our tours were arranged by Real Journeys, and I would highly recommend them.
The pick up was scheduled at 7am outside our hotel, thankfully we didn’t have to drag our groggy faces across town to find the pick up spot. The estimated time for the entire tour was around 12 hours or so, with most of the time spent in the bus on the journey to the freshwater basin of Milford Sounds. With a couple of scheduled stops along the listed in our itinerary, we were good to go.
After riding the bus for about an hour or so, we made our first stop. I wasn’t exactly aware where we were because everyone slept right after boarding. Everyone shuffled out of the bus eagerly to be properly woken up by the cold gust of winds. We were greeted by a beautiful view of a lake after taking a couple of steps around the bus.
After a few more hours on the road, we finally were in Te Anau, also known as the gateway to the fiords. Our bus driver stopped at another point of interest which was Mirror Lakes, which also served as a bathroom stop.
Back onto the bus, and we continued on our leisurely drive to the fiords. One thing I should mention, please come prepared with an eye shade mask, or at the very least sunglasses. The glaring sun on the bus can be quite intense, which is magnified seeing as the entire bus has a panoramic glass roof. A little sunblock while riding the bus wouldn’t hurt either.
Behold, the magnificent freshwater basin of Milford Sounds after the end of our 5 hour bus journey from Queenstown. After picking up our tickets, we headed out to the pier and hunted for our ship, the Milford Mariner. Boarding started right on schedule, and within 15-20 minutes everyone was on board waiting to ship off for our 2 and half hour cruise to the sea mouth and back.
The captain of the ship did make several announcements during our journey to keep an eye our for wild life that are special to this area, such as dolphins, penguins, sea lions, and sometimes even whales ! Unfortunately, we only managed to spot sea lions sun bathing lazily on the rocks nearby. Thankfully, there were no sea gulls were around.
Such an awesome 2 and a half hour adventure sailing through the fiords. I’d really recommend anyone heading to the south island to get onto one of these relaxing cruises. You could also plan other activities as listed on their website, or even rent a kayak and explore the fiords on your own. Now, to find where our bus is and get back home to Queenstown, not particularly ecstatic about the long 5 hour bus ride back home though. Goodbye beautiful Milford Sounds!