Milford Sound is a place one should not miss when visiting the South Island of New Zealand.
First, the road getting there is one of the most scenic I had driven at the time; you drive all times with beauties of nature surrounding you, the very rugged landscape, the glaciers, the waterfalls, the lakes you discover on the sometimes steep and precipitous road, all this gives you a feeling of a trip in high mountains above 3000m, (they look a bit like that in Europe, at that elevation, Engadine, in a wilderness version).
Second, a cruise in the fjord, down to the Pacific Ocean; the show is in the water, with the dolphins jumping around the boat, on the shores where the seals to do nothing else than sunbathing all day long, and the show, the great show are the 500 metres high cliffs, bare or covered with trees, fern, moss, from where beautiful waterfalls roar down (some boats approach enough to let you taste that water, and yes, depending from where the water falls, it has different tastes).
Third, the return route on the road, as beautiful as the day before; stop near the Homer tunnel, discover the chasm mountain, make a stop at mirror lakes, walk in the southern rain forest (Fjordland is one of the most humid places on the planet).
If I have the chance to go back one day to Fjordland, I certainly will make a week long trek (a tramp, as they say here) in these mountains. Visit Fjordland for the beauty of the wilderness.
Fortunately the Holland America cruise took us through Milford Sound. I'ts truly an amazing site and we were blessed with a ray of sunshine at one point which I understand is rare. There is such a silence there, the mountains seem to muffle even the sound of the ship. It's hard to get a perspective of how high the mountains really are with nothing to compare them with.
A warm jacket is needed here. You can see patches of snow on the mountain tops and a wind brings that snowy cold feeling down to the water.
Fondest memory: Cruising through the silence of Milford Sound
A trip to Milford Sound is not possible (unless you fly or have your own boat!!) without going through the Homer Tunnel. It was built between 1935 & 1940 then slowly widened until 1953 when road traffic could also use it.
It's a bit of an extreme journey, especially if you are in a campervan and have a bus coming the other way as the tunnel is a bit tight. The tunnel is very steep and has water dripping from the roof. You'd almost think that the tunnel is partially natural as it is probably the smooth type of tunnel that you're used to in your own country!!
The drive from Te Anau takes just over an hour to get here and it takes you through some fantastic scenery including lakeside, forest and bush. The things that are so special about this part of New Zealand.
Go to Milford Sound and Mitre Peak. Flying in is one of my most memorable experiences. You can see by the photo how exhilirating it is there. The fiords, cut out by glaciers years ago, and the mighty Mitre Peak towering overhead. Flying in and out is a bit tricky and requires special training before the pilot is allowed anywhere near the place.
You can get to Fiordland from Queenstown, Te Anau or Tekapo among other places.
It's possible to take a bus or drive yourself to Milford.