A few hours from Queenstown lies the most mystical place.
It’s part of a collection of fjords in the southwest of New Zealand’s South Island. It’s known for towering Mitre Peak, plus rainforests and waterfalls like Stirling and Bowen falls, which plummet down its sheer sides. The fiord is home to fur seal colonies, penguins and dolphins and it’s truly breathtaking.
Boat tours are the most popular way to explore as they take you right to the end of the sound with a full commentary from the captain, who points out all the names of the falls, the sound’s history and geography and alerts you when there is some sea life ahead!
I striked lucky once again as I had friends who were working for a cruise company in Milford who invited me to visit for a couple of nights. I jumped on one of their realjourneys scenic cruises and got totally bowled over by the breathtaking scenery of this place.
The journey to Milford from Queenstown is just as spectacular as the destination itself. If you get the bus like I did, you can just sit back and relax whilst the driver tells you all about this picturesque drive. There are a few stop-off points along the way that are necessary not just to see the views but also to stretch your legs from the 4 hour journey. Scenic stops include Mirror Lakes, Knobs Flat (haha), Monkey Creek and The Chasm (a fast-flowing river).
The weather is what gives this region its unique character. You should expect it to be raining, although it is famous for its ability to improve (or deteriorate) inside a very short space of time. The rain makes things even more magical anyway, turning dripping waterfalls into thunders of water down the cliff faces and the mist from the rain creating rainbows across the sky.
Chances are if you’re visiting, you’ll hop on a bus, hop on a cruise and then hop back on a bus back to Queenstown as Milford sound has very little other than the cruise ship port. Having said that, there are places to stay if you wish – it’s worth checking out @realjourneys for the cruises and @milfordsoundlodge for accommodation.
As for me, I bunked in the staff cabins with my glorious friends, Courtney and Kelsey, whom I had first met in Broome. Milford Sound was a stark contrast from the dizzying sunshine of The Kimberley but it was so much fun meeting up again, chatting about our adventures, scoffing banana bread, walking around the valley that surrounded Milford and attempting (unsuccessfully) to capture the perfect jumping shot!