Breathtaking Milford Sound and The Fiordlands – Te Anau, South Island, New Zealand

After another long day in the car, we finally checked in to the Te Anau Top 10 Holiday Park. The holiday park was beautiful – the common kitchen and bathrooms even had granite countertops! Our little cabin was one of our most favorite of all of the holiday parks we stayed in. It was very modern and cozy with gorgeous furnishings in blue, black and white. We wished we could have hooked it up to the back of our Jucy Jazzy and taken it with us! So happy to be in a cabin since it was bloody freezing out! Who knew?

Our cozy holiday park cabin and Jucy "Jazzy" rental car.Our cozy holiday park cabin and Jucy "Jazzy" rental car.
Our cozy holiday park cabin and Jucy "Jazzy" rental car.08-Dec-2011 14:44

While Erik had a work day, I “cleaned house,” which meant cleaning and airing out our tent, all of our kitchen tools and pots, washing the car (for free at the holiday park) and doing some much needed laundry.

I took a walk to the supermarket and they were having some sort of Christmas festival. There were all kinds of cheeses, crackers, fruits, breads, chocolates, desserts and wines, all free for tasting! There was also a wonderful sale on wines, so I bought a few nice bottles.

Penguins and Sauv Blanc...two of our favorite things!Penguins and Sauv Blanc...two of our favorite things!
Penguins and Sauv Blanc...two of our favorite things!06-Dec-2011 19:45

We also managed to snag some tickets to the amazing film about this gorgeous part of New Zealand. (Is there really any part of this country that ISN’T gorgeous??). Fiordland on Film takes you on a virtual helicopter ride over the spectacular mountains, rivers and gorges of Fiordland. The cinema was beautiful with a nice wine bar in front. We had a fantastic glass of Te Mata New Zealand sauvignon blanc, of course! The film was nice, but it could have used some narration about what we were seeing on the screen.

Sunset over Lake Te Anau.Sunset over Lake Te Anau.
Sunset over Lake Te Anau.07-Dec-2011 18:57

Te Anau is the jumping-off point for New Zealand’s famous Milford Sound. We managed to find a deal for a day trip to the Sound through (many good deals to be found on there). The day trip included pick-up from our holiday park, transport through the beautiful scenery to the Sound, a drive through the famous Homer Tunnel, which was built by hand, amazingly enough, a picnic lunch and a cruise through Milford Sound. The weather seemed a bit grey and dismal in the morning and we were wondering if we would have lousy weather all day. Our driver, Simon, was fantastic. Very informative and funny and reminded us of our quirky tour guide for Fraser Island, Australia – Dave. They must be long lost brothers!

Our Jucy "Cruize Milford Express" bus.Our Jucy "Cruize Milford Express" bus.
Our Jucy "Cruize Milford Express" bus.08-Dec-2011 12:47

The scenic drive there was incredible. We were glad we had taken transport with a tour and hadn’t driven, because the roads were very windy and dangerous. The mountains, flowers and crystal blue waters of New Zealand continued to take our breath away.

Crystal-clear water and waterfalls.Crystal-clear water and waterfalls.
Crystal-clear water and waterfalls.08-Dec-2011 09:00

Simon took us on several bonus stops that weren’t even listed on the itinerary. A walk to an old bridge, crystal blue rivers, a very interesting chasm with a waterfall running through it, still lakes that looked like mirrors.

A serene lake along the drive to Milford Sound.A serene lake along the drive to Milford Sound.
A serene lake along the drive to Milford Sound.08-Dec-2011 12:43

The journey there was such a treat! When we got closer to the Sound after going through the tunnel, we came upon the scene of a fatal accident. Just the night before, a car full of Chinese tourists had gone over the edge. Sadly, the driver was killed. There were still road blocks and police were still quite busy investigating. We were definitely glad we chose not to drive there!

The entrance to the 1.2km long Homer Tunnel.The entrance to the 1.2km long Homer Tunnel.
The entrance to the 1.2km long Homer Tunnel.08-Dec-2011 12:07

Our picnic lunch was nice – they gave us a bottle of water, a sandwich, an apple and some cookies. We ate once we got onboard for our afternoon cruise. We even drank some delicious New Zealand glacier water that we had collected from the streams earlier on in the day. Delicious! It happened to be one of the first cruises run by Jucy (the company we rented Jazzy from). So, it was really nice. The staff were great, they served free tea and coffee, and the weather turned out to be clear and beautiful just in time for our cruise!

Our Jucy cruize ship, ready to depart.Our Jucy cruize ship, ready to depart.
Our Jucy cruize ship, ready to depart.08-Dec-2011 10:57

Milford Sound is mesmerizing. A gorgeous Sound surrounded by tall mountains, cascading waterfalls and even the rare Fiordland Crested Penguins. They have bright yellow feathers extending out from the corner of their eyes. Much to our dismay, we had just missed them, as their season of hanging out in the Sound had just ended just two weeks prior. I was crushed because I had really wanted to see these extremely rare penguins. But, the staff on our boat said that even during their season, it is very rare to see them in Milford Sound.

Steep mountains and waterfalls frame Milford Sound.Steep mountains and waterfalls frame Milford Sound.
Steep mountains and waterfalls frame Milford Sound.08-Dec-2011 10:05

The cruise was magnificent. Stunning scenery, lush steep mountains, waterfalls everywhere we looked. It was quite cold on the water, so Erik wound up wearing one of my hats I had brought along. When we approached the famous Sterling Falls, the skipper took us right underneath the Falls, which were just a few meters away. Thankfully, he had warned us to put our cameras away first, so ours didn’t get wet.

A ship approaching Sterling Falls.A ship approaching Sterling Falls.
A ship approaching Sterling Falls.08-Dec-2011 10:25

It is hard to even imagine the scale of it all through photos. The mountains were just massive. The cruise was wonderful and we were really happy that we had chosen Jucy.

Another view into Milford Sound.Another view into Milford Sound.
Another view into Milford Sound.08-Dec-2011 10:28

We were glad we had done the trip from Te Anau (2 hour drive) instead of Queenstown, which is nearly a 4 hour drive one way! This way, we got to really take our time going there and back and we got to see some beautiful things along the way. We got to see an old suspension bridge and walk on snow from a recent avalanche.

Waterfalls off a glacier melting in the summer heat.Waterfalls off a glacier melting in the summer heat.
Waterfalls off a glacier melting in the summer heat.08-Dec-2011 12:09

The water in New Zealand is in its own category of blue. There are just no words and even the photos don’t capture the color completely. It is absolutely breathtaking.

Erik filling a water bottle from a glacial stream - ready to drink!Erik filling a water bottle from a glacial stream - ready to drink!
Erik filling a water bottle from a glacial stream - ready to drink!08-Dec-2011 12:18

After a long day, we cooked a delicious meal – pasta with tomato sauce & chorizo, a nice salad, and washed it down with a nice bottle of New Zealand wine called Timaru.

We had a fantastic time in Te Anau and Milford Sound and were sad to leave our favorite little cabin. Alas, it was time to say goodbye and head to our next stop – the adventure capital of New Zealand – Queenstown!

About Heather

Heather and Erik set off on a round-the-world trip in April, 2010, travelling overland through Central and South America before getting engaged in Antarctica. In 2011-2012 they tackled Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.

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