‘”New Zealand was one of the most beautiful countries to drive through for the scenery and the vast scale of the place.” – Louise Nurding
Milford Sound was a place I hadn’t even heard of before arriving in Queenstown. If you do ever visit the area, make it your priority for a visit. Quite simply, it’s breathtaking. Through my job at Pita Pit, I was lucky enough to be able to visit with JUCY‘s drive & cruise package for free. I’d pay double whatever the cost is to visit again.
A 7.30 start was not ideal but because JUCY are so keen on showing off the spectacular scenery en route it’s necessary. We had a Kiwi driver called Ian who doubled as our tour guide and was a complete fountain of New Zealand knowledge.
During the drive he told us everything: how New Zealand was discovered, the Maori history of the country, the medicinal purposes of Manuka honey, the value and science behind Merino wool, details of different land slides, what the locals do for a living, how many sheep per person there are, information on local wildlife and pest control problems, facts on the flora and fauna we passed. He really was fantastic!
Our first stop was Te Anau; a town bordering Lake Te Anau- the second largest lake in NZ. We had a half hour pit stop to take in the view and for me, to gather my thoughts.
Water has always had a special hold over me, particularly large areas of water like lakes and oceans. Perhaps it’s having a water zodiac sign, or because my hometown is the furthest point from the sea in every direction in England. Whatever it is, I love to sit near water and take in the view. This one did not disappoint.
After Te Anau, we stopped off at Eglinton Valley. A valley “shaped by the power of water”, no photo can really do it justice. It was an amazing place to stand, take in the towering mountains all around and reflect on how insignificant and small we really are.
Our next stop was by far the most magical as it showed that whatever we have, nature invented first. The Mirror Lakes are absolutely beautiful. Ian told us that he had never seen them as clear as what we saw that day and all I could do was thank the Maori Gods. Again, an image doesn’t truly do it justice. It was like the mountains literally just carried on into the ground.
We passed through various other places en route including Knobs Flat, Lake Gunn and the Hollyford Valley Lookout as we journeyed through the Southern Alps. A further pit stop at Monkey Creek Bridge meant we could fill up our water bottles with fresh glacier water straight from the stream.
A little wait at the Homer Tunnel gave Ian chance to enlighten us a little more on the area and then we were through to look down over the valley leading to Milford. Here we also had our first encounter with wildlife as two native parrots called Kea’s came over to entertain us.
After just under four hours we finally arrived at Milford and boarded the JUCY boat ready for a tour of the fiord. The weather was absolutely glorious and although it was a bit windy on the top deck, it was great to sit back and take in the view.
Many of the images I have, really can’t highlight the beauty of Milford Sound and the places we stopped off en route. I was lucky enough to visit one of the most beautiful, breathtaking and magical places the world has to offer. We also drove through the southern most quarter of the world, something that very few people on the planet will ever be able to say.