Milford Sound: The Journey is the destination
“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware” – Martin Bauber
Hopping on the bus at Queenstown early – well, earlier than most as the driver had decided to trick us and tell us pick up was an hour earlier than it actually was, funny guy – we began our journey to one of the most iconic and beautiful spots in New Zealand, Milford Sound.
If you Google New Zealand this will be a top 5 hit and once you visit it, you can definitely understand why, it’s incredible.
Of course it is the beautiful, Milford Sound.
I was excited and ready to be swept off my feet by beautiful breathtaking views. I was ready to feel small among the surrounding peaks while marveling at the beautiful waterfalls and scenery.
What I was not prepared for was the beautiful journey to reach Milford Sound.
The driver came on over the microphone to tell us about the areas we were travelling through and how this was his favourite routes to travel.
It was beautiful yes, but so were many roads in New Zealand.
This opinion was swiftly changed when we turned the corner and the views opened up.
Incredible cascading mountain peaks surround the roads. If your aim was to feel small; this definitely did it for me, but in such a beautiful way.
The road was windy, steep, with sharp drops and surprise ice. The scenery ranged from beautiful forest-covered roads, beautiful rivers and clearings your eyes weren’t big enough to engulf and of course the incredible harsh and foreboding looking mountain peaks.
Not for the faint hearted or nervous drivers in some places. I would recommend highly taking a small bus tour through the route, so your eyes and mind can fully indulge in the beauty of the drive. Rather than concentrating on not coming off the road by marvelling at it too much.
I travelled by bus from Queenstown to Milford Sound with the bus company Stray Travel in New Zealand. We had a small bus of maybe only around 15 people, which was perfect. Our driver was incredibly knowledgeable about the local landscape, the nature and the best stopping points (with minimal tourists) along the way! – I don’t think I would have enjoyed the journey quite as much on a 50 seated (or more) bus, but that is just I.
The journey from Queenstown to Milford Sound is around 4 hours – depending on driver and traffic, yes, tourist traffic – so make the most of the stops along the way.
Take a Walk on one of the many mini walks. Gawk at underground destined waterfalls, beautiful rock formations and misty forest. They range from 5 – 15 minutes. A great way to get some fresh air and stretch those muscles before hopping back in the bus.
Introduce yourself to the cute and hilarious Kea birds. Kea’s love nothing more than attempting to try to tear apart your vehicle while also perfectly posing for pictures. –with a beautiful mountainous backdrop of course.
Fill up your water bottle – hydration is key, even in the cold – in one of the beautiful fjord streams, packed full of minerals and (pretty) safe. It’s the best natural refreshment.
Hold your breath as you travel through the 1.2km Homer Tunnel. You will exit a world of unspoiled mountain landscapes and be transported into a beautiful rain forest carpeted canyon. Beginning your descent into the sound.
Yes it may be a long journey, yes you may have to get up early but isn’t it worth it? This is also one bus ride you do not want to sleep through.
Arriving into Milford Sound the first impressions are the large peaks, the blue water and the ridiculously high number of tourists.
Yes, this is to be expected. But in New Zealand seeing a large number of people in any one spot is both a shock and almost, a disappointment
I opted to Take a Cruise with Real Journeys on Milford Sound.
Waiting to board our cruise with Real Journeys where we will wind through the Fjord. Exploring the beauty, nature and scenery for 2 hours, I couldn’t believe the large number of people – I was here in winter, this must be insane in summer – and it almost took the excitement from it.
Boarding the ferry, we took our seats as we waited to begin moving. Once moving – I’m not joking – we literally ran to the top of the boat to secure standing spots at the front.
So, for the best viewpoint, photo ops and basically, views without heads, selfies sticks in the way. It was of course, also the best place to breathe the beautiful fresh sea air the fjord welcomed.
A beautiful clear, sunny but chilly winters day was the setting for our Milford Sound Cruise. It hadn’t rained in a while so we had minimal waterfalls – you could hear their power before you could see them in some cases – cascading down the mountains into the ocean, it was an incredible sight.
It’s hard to believe so many adventurers, even the good old Captain Cook didn’t dare sail into here in the beginning.
What a sight it must have been for John Grono, a Welshman, when he first sailed into the Sound.
The captain of our ferry had a great sense of humour that’s for sure. Approaching one of the incredible waterfalls, so close that those on the low deck, at the front, got absolutely soaked! – I’m not going to lie, I was secretly laughing at everyone running for cover with extended selfies sticks. – Those on the top deck who refused to leave the view point (i.e. me) enjoyed enough of a ‘refreshment’ to be beaten by the pounding cold wind. It was time to retreat inside for the rest of the journey.
If you opt to stay inside the views are still there. Thankfully, the whole boat is covered in windows, you couldn’t miss the view if you tried! If standing out in the cold (remember I was here in winter) with the masses doesn’t appeal to you. Grab some free tea and coffee – the coffee is bad, I’d go for the tea – and some treats and watch the beautiful views unfold from the comfort and warmth of your seat.
Milford Sound is incredibly beautiful and I am so glad to have seen on my travels in New Zealand.
I hope you like people, I mean, there is no avoiding this. It comes with the reputation as a result. Just get to the front early and you’ll forget there were even tourists there!
The cost of the cruise itself was $79.00. I couldn’t tell you how much independent transport from Queenstown to Milford Sound costs. Travel with Real Journeys who will package the transport and cruise together, easy.
Have you been to Milford Sound or Fiordland in New Zealand?
What were your thoughts?
Note: Real Journeys, or Stray had no input in this blog post. This is a non commissioned post. I paid the full price for the activities and transport. If I was to do it again, I imagine I’ll pay full price.
Once Again my lovelies if you would like to use any of the above images, please ask first. A lot of work and trust goes into these shots and i love sharing them with you all.