Nothing much has changed since Captain Cook first ventured into these sheltered waters in 1773 charting the coastline from Milford Sound in the north to Preservation Sound in the south.
The lush verdant forest and fern tumble from soaring peaks down to the waters edge. Seals, gulls , wildlife - bottlenose dolphins, fur seals and penguins are found here in abundance. The mist from a thousand waterfalls billows from sheer walls of rock, close enough to touch. A glacial moraine at the shallow mouth of the sound protects the fiord from the heavy seas which roll in from the Tasman Sea creating one of the most peaceful and beautiful places on earth.
The vision of another explorer, Thomas MacKenzie later to become the Premier of New Zealand, was fulfilled when in 1904 the region became a national park creating the largest national park in New Zealand covering nearly 1.2 million hectares - one of the world's greatest wilderness areas
The vision of another explorer, Thomas MacKenzie later to become the Premier of New Zealand, was fulfilled when in 1904 the region became a national park creating the largest national park in New Zealand covering nearly 1.2 million hectares - one of the world's greatest wilderness areas. There are fourteen sounds spreading along Fiordland's remote coast and much of Fiordland National Park is inaccessible by road. However, the Milford Sound is accessible by road from the lakeside village of Te Anau, a spectacular alpine drive through lush rain forest, past tranquil alpine lakes and through rugged mountain passes.
Department of Conservation Visitor Centre (DOC)
Department of Conservation Visitor Centre (DOC) is the information bank where visitors to Te Anau should first visit when they arrive in the town.
It is located on the lakefront. There are many displays on the route to take and the short walks around the Visitor Centre.
If you need information and bookings and maps, do seek help from the friendly staff.
To get to MILFORD SOUND, you have to pass through the fairly famous Homer Tunnel.
Before this tunnel opened in 1954, there was no road to fiordland.
The HOMER TUNNEL has been improved greatly over the years.
The tunnel is straight, and was originally single-lane and gravel-surfaced. The tunnel walls remain unlined granite.
Until it was sealed and enlarged it was the longest gravel-surfaced tunnel in the world.
An advancement was when roof lighting was fitted and traffic lights reintroduced in 2004 to reduce capacity constraints and safety issues.
Although the tunnel is large enough for a bus and a smaller vehicle to pass, meetings involving two coaches or campervans are not the best. We went through in our Campervan, and were quite happy that on both occasions, we did not meet another vehicle.
The traffic lights operate only during the peak summer season, since the avalanche risk makes it unsafe to stop and queue at the portals in winter and spring. A widening of the tunnel, to allow for true two-laning may be happening in the future.
We stayed at the Te Anau Motor Park which is right by the lake before you get into the town. The staff are great and booked our trips for us to the Glow Worm caves and the overnight Doubtful Sound trip.
Te Anau is a really peaceful place. The air is crystal clear as is the waters of the lake. We had perfect weather, few clouds and lots of sunshine. The motor park is a short walk into town alongside the lake shore. We found plenty to do, lot's of gift shops, restaurants and even a movie cinema.
The same day we arrived in Te Anau, we booked a trip to the Glow Worm Caves. The caves are on the other side of the lake, so it was a great opportunity to cruise over the lake.
The caves were amazing with a river running through them. We had to get in a small boat to see the glow worms. The guide switches off all the lights and then you see all the lights from the worms, it's like looking at vast cities lit up at night. We couldn't take any pictures as strong light kills the worms.
We walked, bussed, jet-boated, and flew the Hollyford Track with our guide, John. Lawrence drove the bus to the head of the track and back from Milford Sound, Peter piloted the jet-boat along Lake McKerrow, Dagmar looked after us at Pyke River Lodge, and Fran at Martin's Bay.
Thank you all.
Early morning at Lake Alabaster near Pyke River Lodge.
Fiordland Crested Penguin at Long Reef, near Martin's Bay
Southern Fur Seal at Long Reef, near Martin's Bay.