For three weeks, we traveled the country of New Zealand (#WatsonsdriveNZ) and blogged our way through it. Follow along + catch up by reading Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six, Part Seven, Part Eight, Part Nine, Part Ten, Part Eleven, Part Twelve, Part Thirteen, Part Fourteen and Part Fifteen.
We said goodbye to our beloved Castle Hill Lodge Bed and Breakfast and hit the road to Milford Sound. We drove through Te Anau (where we would later be staying the night) and through gorgeous scenery on the way to Milford Sound. We stopped at a lookout area called Mirror Lakes, super clear water that perfectly reflects the surrounding mountains!
As we drove closer to the Milford Sound area, we kept expecting the roads to get terrible… we had heard a couple people say the roads were sooo windy! I don’t know, I guess Randy drove me through the “worst” parts of the North Island because the roads to Milford weren’t a problem at all for us after all the driving we had done! Sure, it’s not a straight stretch, but nothing to worry about. We loved the roads!
It’s pretty crazy – we imagined we’d have to drive switch-backs up and down the mountain, but no, they’ve built a tunnel that you literally DRIVE through! For a few years, they had walking only access – and buses on either end, but now cars can drive through. It’s one-way with a traffic light that switches every 5 minutes or so. Pretty insane. We were booked on a two-hour cruise with Cruise Milford set to leave at 1:45pm and we got into “town” (if you can call Milford Sound a town) with enough time to grab lunch. Options were slim. We both got pizza and immediately regretted it BIG TIME after we were finished. Sometimes, when you’re travelling, food is food. But then you wish you were hungry again and hadn’t gone for the food that was food. (100% a #firstworldproblem. Thank you Jesus for food available to us.)
We waited in the ferry terminal for our cruise line… and watched all the other ferry boats come in. Each one probably held 50-300 people until we saw ours: Cruise Milford. Randy was hoping it was the smallest boat – smaller is better, less people and you can get closer to the sights! We were pumped when our boat pulled up. There was capacity for 150 people, two levels, nice couches and tea and coffee inside but only 21 people on board. It was awesome.
For two hours, we slowly cruised through Milford Sound, stopping at two different seal colonies and a few waterfalls. Once we got out to open ocean, we turned around to head back to port.
The cliffs at Milford are crazy… one of the peaks was 1.5km high. (That’s a mile for you Americans!) A MILE high! And this wasn’t way in the distance, this was right beside us!! Definitely the most unique area we’ve traveled to so far in New Zealand.
The boat got so close to this waterfall. I went inside – but Randy had a rain jacket on so he stayed on the deck. Everybody got soaked but he said it was pretty sweet.
A big thank you to the lovely Canadian staff person on board who offered to take this photo for us! It’s nice to have photos that aren’t selfies. I was really excited – she was from a small town in between Montreal and Quebec City (two places I love!) although she had been traveling for five years. It was cute. “I learned my English in Australian, so that’s kind of strange.” It’s true. She did have a half French half Australian accented English.
After the cruise, we started the drive back to Te Anau to our motel. Loved how the sun was falling on these mountains.
I’ve never been to Iceland… but from the photos I’ve seen, this scenery reminded me a lot of it!
This is the tunnel we were talking about earlier…
What a fun day! If you are headed to New Zealand, definitely make time for Milford Sound and don’t think about booking any other company but Cruise Milford. We loved loved loved them! Thanks for reading!