How to Have an Adventure in New Zealand – Day 5 – Magic Milford Sound
The trip is proving to be more than an adventure. If you really want to know how to have an adventure in New Zealand then today will spell it out loud and clear. We drove to Milford Sound and took a cruise. The Magic Milford, Sound New Zealand. Enough said.
RECAP – My daughter Ally and I are travelling around the South Island of New Zealand and documenting our adventures. From Christchurch to Milford Sound and back over 7 days.
We had spent the previous night in a great Airbnb at a place called Dunrobin. Dunrobin is 2 and a half hours from Milford Sound and an hour and a half from Queenstown. The place we stayed at was a cabin on a cattle and sheep farm belonging to Aileen and Ian. It was the first time I had ever stayed on a farm and the cabin was great. 6 bedrooms and a real cosy feel. It gets booked a lot for fishing trips to the Aparima River where the trout are plentiful.
Before arriving in the late evening we stopped in at the Mossburn Railway pub for dinner. As you can imagine Ally was starving. We had tried the local takeaway come supermarket but the food was ordinary to say the least. The fish and chips looked like they had been sitting there for 3 weeks! Let’s hope the pub meal is better.
Ally ordered the steak with all the trimmings and I ordered the bangers and mash. Bangers are sausages for those who don’t know. I liked the sound of the fish but after seeing the fish sitting in the cafe earlier I reneged.
We had a pint of cider each and the meals were a treat. Definitely recommend Mossburn pub on your travels. Good old fashioned hospitality and great pub grub.
Getting to Magic Milford Sound
We were in bed early as we had a cruise booked for 9am at Milford Sound and needed to be there by around 8.30am. I set the alarm for 4.45am as I wanted to give ourselves plenty of time to get there. Milford Sound is down the south end of the South Island and it has lots of rainfall and the road is really winding and slippery.
We were up and showered and had our porridge by 5.20am and in the car and away at 5.30am. I have to say I was very excited. Ally’s first words in the car – “I’m hungry dad.”
The Drive to Milford Sound was to put it bluntly ‘Fricking Awesome!’ It was cool, windy and wet but I have never enjoyed cool windy and wet like this. There were mountains, valleys, lakes, waterfalls, quaint little towns and openings around every corner to a whole new vista. The closer we got to Milford Sound the bigger the mountains seemed to get. I have never witnessed so many beautiful waterfalls gathered together in one part of the world.
Have You Ever Been Attacked by an Eagle?
We eventually arrived at Homer Tunnel. This tunnel cuts right through the Darran Mountain ranges. It only has one lane so there are traffic lights at each end. We had to wait a little while for our lights to turn green.
Whilst waiting I noticed what looked like an eagle flying high above us in front of the mountain. It was floating in the sky like a bird…funny about that. It flew across to my left and out of view. Ally had her passenger side window down and was taking in the magnificent scenery as we waited our turn to drive through the mountain. It was getting a bit chilly so Ally wound up her window. Just as she did the eagle flew directly at her side of the car, talons out in front like it was ready to pounce and landed on the roof just above Ally. We both shouted something indistinguishable. Or maybe it was a scream we both let out, not sure but we could not believe this huge eagle had decided to take a pit stop on our roof. It stayed there until we had a green light and drove off. It flew off and we both let out a kind of relived sigh.
I had visions when I saw the talons as it was flying towards us of the great beast grabbing Ally and flying off with her. Taking her back to the nest for all the family to feast on. Ally had just finished munching on some food so she was well fattened up for a feast by the eaglets. It was quite fortunately Ally had just wound her window up as who knows what the eagle would have done if it was still down. So I had been attacked by a beagle at Christchurch airport and Ally was nearly torn apart by an eagle at Milford Sound. Scary but all part of the adventure. Of course all this excitement had made Ally hungry again.
We drove through the tunnel and its like the doorway to Milford Sound. It is rough-hewn from the mountain and has lots of water dripping down the sides onto the road. You really feel like you are deep under ground. Probably because you are! It is around a kilometre long and is an exciting part of the trip. As we exited it seemed to open up a whole new world. It opens to a really steep winding road and with the mist and rain failing it was like being in another world. Enchanted magic is what I called it.
Cruising the Magical Milford Sound
We arrived at Milford Sound and the rain was really coming down now. I had been told before hand that if you get to Milford Sound and its not raining you will have a good trip and if you get to Milford Sound and it is raining you will have an unforgettable trip. And for us it was already an unforgettable trip.
We parked the car and made our way into the reception area at the check-in terminal. The actual cruise terminal is another 400 metres along. We checked in and I decided to purchase an orange $7.50 raincoat. One of those plastic jobs that resembles a poncho. It would keep the water off and that is all I was worried about. Of course it looked a little dagy so Ally decided against purchasing one. She was filling herself up on a nice meat pie to keep herself warm and dry.
We wondered on over to the terminal and boarded our cruiser. Or was it a ship or a boat? I never know what to call these things. I know a big cruise liner is a ship and a little fishing boat is a boat but what are these things called? Lets go with cruise ship for now. Just to let you know Milford Sound is actually a fjord (pronounced ford). A fjord is like a bay but not quite as big I believe. It is known for it’s rainforests and waterfalls as well as it’s highest mountain Mitre Peak.
It is an enchanting mystical, magical place and as our cruise ship took off the mist and the rain made for a spectacular view. But not just a view. Milford Sound effects your feelings and emotions. It kind of takes you under its spell and drags you into its soul. All those on board just stared outside for the first part of the trip, bewitched by the mist, the water, the mountains, the waterfalls and rain. But hunger waits for no man and Ally observed that food was being served.
We had a quick bite to eat and then it was time to venture onto the deck in the rain and feel the emotion of Milford Sound. Normally I don’t like doing things when it is raining but with my trusty raincoat I felt confident of not getting too wet. Luckily the rain had subsided for a moment and we both climbed up to the top deck. The rain had been replaced with what seemed like a cyclone! The wind had really picked up. My trusty raincoat was struggling. The $7.50 value was being put to the test. And then it happened. The raincoat was basically blown off my body. Never to return. (See video below) It had not handled the wind at all. Oh well at least it wasn’t raining anymore.
Ally Takes a Shower
Ally had taken a bit of a shine to the captain of this fair vessel and he had challenged all the passengers to let their free spirits take over and to dance under Bowen Falls, a waterfall he was about to park the ship under. Unfortunately I hadn’t noticed Ally race down at 1,000 miles an hour to impress him under the waterfall where she put on a fair dance from all the reports of other passengers. So sadly I have no video proof. She was soaked through but was happy chatting to the captain about her efforts. She really jumped out of her comfort zone with this one. Well done Ally!
For the majority of the cruise we just looked at the place in awe. Comes a time when taking photos doesn’t cut it any more and you just want to take it all in.
It Reminds me of Vikings!
It’s funny but the one place Milford Sound reminds me of is Kattegat, the town and sea made famous in the television program Vikings. The real Kattegatt is in Norway but the show was actually filmed in Ireland on location in Lough Tay in County Wicklow. If you have watched it and seen the sea that Kattegatt is built around then that is what I think about when I look at Milford Sound. Both beautiful.
To say we had a great time would be an understatement. Milford Sound is a place everyone needs to experience at least once. In fact don’t put it off. It doesn’t matter what kind of person you are Milford Sound will have a profound effect on you. It gets under your skin. A little bit of Milford Sound stays with you and a little bit of you stays in Milford Sound.
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