Being an UNESCO site Milford Sound is mentioned on many websites as a must see destination in the South Island. Someone who has been there strongly suggested us to add it on our itinerary. So we did.
We stayed at Te Anau in order to drive there by ourselves. The Milford Sound cruise prices are cheaper in the morning. Most of group tourists arrive at lunch time. In order to avoid tourist crowds, we left motel earlier to catch one Cruise before the noon. The cruise terminal has only cruise related businesses and activities in the area. There aren’t any eateries or shops either. The good thing is that most cruise tours include a simple snack. The one we took offered us fish and chips. Our snack was freshly made on site and tasted delicious.
Our cruise set off in time. According to the information the area rains on average 182 days a year. The two rainiest months are actually December and January, during the New Zealand summer! We were luck that the day wasn’t raining! The sun was trying to come out and it was a bit chilly out there. Our cruise has a mixture of indoor and outdoor seating and viewing areas. I preferred to stay inside and keep warm while still being able to enjoy the amazing views out the window.
Local wildlife like seals were found on some rocks. Most of them were not active, other than two which were making funny actions. Shortly before we returned to the terminal our capitan announced that we were soon very close to a big waterfalls. He took very much precaution to drive Under a fall so that we could feel the mist of tumbling waterfalls. If we did not wear waterproof cloth then we would be wet. Passengers were all excited. The pure glacial water forms this towering waterfalls. The nature is spectacular.
Along the road between Te Anau and Milford Sound there are many scenic sites which are worth to visit. It really comes down to the personal preferences what to do and see. We didn’t have enough time to do all but we visited Mirror Lakes, a small mountain lakes on the roadside provide outstanding mountain reflections in calm weather. A 5 minute walk with views of the Earl Mountains. Our friendly motel owner reminded us the view could be only spotted in the morning. Therefore we visited it on the way to Milford Sound.
At the end of Homer Tunnel we greeted Kea, a type of bird which is notorious for attacking cars. There were not afraid of human but we did. Our car was already in a scrap status and we were very much afraid the car would stop working if the Kea broke or dissemble parts of it. Nevertheless we had fun.
Tips and Information:
- Starting at the main car park, it will take you a few minutes to
the Milford Terminal. Along the way there are a number of viewpoints and
information boards. Allow you extra time for this walk.
- If you need to wait for the departure of a cruise, do a Milford Foreshore Walk. It is wooden boardwalk which takes you to the edge of the fiord offering uninterrupted views of Mitre Peak. This is a looped walking track with information panels along the way. Prepare 20 minutes for the walk.
- Due to the local climate bring a wind and waterproof cloth with you to cope with the situation.
- If you don’t join group then take a cruise before 13:00 to avoid mass tourist groups.
- Don’t forget to get map including all sites along SH94 so that you can plan ahead what to see.
- Neither in Milford Sound area nor between Te Anau and Milford Sound has gas station. It is suggested to fill in your tank in Te Anau.