I meant to continue my New Zealand posts earlier in the week, but things got a bit crazy and I didn’t have a chance.
Anyway… for our first full day in Queenstown, we had booked a trip to Milford Sound. We chose the coach-cruise-fly option, which meant we were picked up in a coach at 6.30 a.m., drove to Milford Sound (with stops along the way), had a cruise on the Sound and then had a scenic flight back to Queenstown in a teeny, tiny aeroplane. The option with the flight back is more expensive than coach both ways, but so worth it! By the way, if you choose to just do the coach option, definitely go with Mitre Peak Tours. I highly, highly recommend. (We booked through Milford Sound Flights, and the coach/cruise parts were run by Mitre Peak).
It was dark when we left, but after a while the sun started to appear over the horizon, so we begin this post’s image overload with my attempts to take photos of the sunrise through the window of a moving coach!
I tried to take more photos through the windows once it started getting light, but it didn’t work very well, so here are some from our first stop instead. I have no idea where this is! Somewhere with mountains…
I don’t even remember whether those photos are from before or after Te Anau, where we stopped to pick up more people and so those who didn’t have lunch included could pick some up from the supermarket there. Jan and I had a sausage roll and a coffee for breakfast there. And I took zero photos.
The next stop was at Mirror Lakes, which is definitely after Te Anau 😉 In case you can’t guess where they got their name, here are some photos:
We then stopped at a little stream where our bus driver said we could fill our water bottles if we wanted. Again, I don’t remember where it was (because I’m an idiot), but have some photos.
The next stop was at the Cleddau Valley cascading waterfalls. Our bus driver told us that when it’s raining there are hundreds of waterfalls… everywhere you look, water is cascading down. It was not raining when we were there, but we still saw waterfalls. I can only imagine how impressive it must look in the rain.
Our final stop was at Karangahake Gorge.
Our bus driver told us that he recently found out all the other bus companies only have two stops – at Mirror Lakes and Karangahake Gorge. Apparently this is because people get out of the bus, have a chat, finally decide to take a few photos, have another chat, look at the photos, delete then and take more. So at every stop he asked us to please take our photos then get back on the coach so we could have more stops later. At Karangahake Gorge, he told us we could only stop there if everyone agreed to get round and be back on the bus in 10 minutes. As it turned out, the last person was back on the bus after 12 minutes. As our driver was pulling out he said “And that is how we get to make more stops than any other tour!” (Once again, book with Mitre Peak tours if you can – and hope you get Carlin as a driver).
I could definitely have spent more than 12 minutes at Karangahake Gorge, it’s so impressive! But don’t take my word for it. Check out the photos for yourself:
I mainly took this photo because it looks like the rock is eating the stick 😀
Yeah, I may have gone overboard with the photos… that isn’t even all of them! But if you think that’s a lot, wait until you see the ones of the Sound 😉
Finally, at just before 12 o’clock, we arrived at Milford Sound! Our boat was waiting for us, and we had a two-hour cruise on the Sound, complete with commentary from the guide. I have no idea what any of the things we saw are now though (other than Seal Rock). Mitre Peak is one of the mountains, obviously, and the two permanent waterfalls are Lady Bowen Falls and Stirling Falls, but I have no idea which is which! Supposedly whales and dolphins can sometimes be spotted following the boats, but we didn’t see any. We did see seals though, which was nice. Anyway, enough rambling from me, you’re here for the photos – yes?
Non-permanent waterfalls do not deserve a name!
Stirling Falls? Who knows!
There are a lot of photos, so I thought I’d split this into two. Part two = seals and stuff!
Seals, not on Seal Rock – how very dare they?
Hello Mr. Gull!
Another waterfall. Named? No idea!
Swim seal, swim!
Before we started our cruise, it was pretty cloudy, so the bus driver said he assumed we’d be going back in the coach with him. It gradually brightened up throughout the cruise though, so once we got back he told us to go and ask at the Mitre Peak information desk. Our flight was indeed going, so we wandered over to the airfield to meet our pilot (whose name I’ve forgotten!). Guys, if you ever make it to New Zealand, you have got to do a scenic flight over Milford Sound!! I literally cannot describe how amazing the views were! Here, have some photos, but they can’t do it justice either. It’s something you really have to see for yourself.
Milford Sound from above
Looking back towards Milford Sound
(Try to ignore all the random reflections from inside the plane!)
Unfortunately my battery ran out before we got back to Queenstown so I have no photos of Lake Wakatipu. So you’ll just have to take my word that it was stunning! So amazingly blue.
So, to sum up, Milford Sound is definitely among the most beautiful places on the planet and if you’re planning a trip to New Zealand, you must put this on your list! It was an absolute highlight of our entire trip. I literally cannot gush enough about this place! Also, look how cute the seals are!