I hadn’t been to Milford Sound in a decade, so when I was invited to see what those who travel the world want to see, I was in.
Because I knew what to expect, I thought I’d take my big sister, as I couldn’t believe she hadn’t been there since she was 40. I’m glad I did; she was absolutely blown away. Sometimes you have to show someone something to understand how lucky you are.
We started the journey from Queenstown airport with Glenorchy Air. One cloudy day I was worried if we were going to get out, but a personal phone call confirmed that we would be flying over the Alps to this beautiful fjord.
When I say the Alps, it’s the most breathtaking 30 minute flight you can do. You start by flying from Queenstown and directly over Lake Wakatipu, Eglinton Valley, Mount Tūtoko, and as you do so you get views of Lake Te Anau on the left and Glenorchy and Paradise on the right .
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You fly directly over glaciers you never knew existed, Iceberg Lake and Erskine Lake. We felt so close to the snow-capped mountains that we could almost touch them.
At this point, I was just looking at my sister’s face and felt a little joy that she was enjoying these sights, having not flown since she had her son seven years ago. years. She’s a single mom, and that was the best thing to see.
Before reaching Fiordland, you take the flight path over Greenstone and Arthur’s Valleys, follow the Milford Track over Sutherland Falls and, stopping at your final destination, you’ll have a good overview of cruises in and out of Milford Sound. .
If you are basing yourself in Queenstown on your holiday, flying is your best option. The journey to Milford Sound takes around three to four hours, and while you see Kingston, Garston and Te Anau Downs, that means less time in the Sound.
Being a southerner, I was happy to skip the drive, but if you haven’t been on this great scenic drive, I’d take the drive there and back. It’s the campaign you can’t find anywhere. Bias as they come, I think it’s the best in the country.
When we arrived the helpful folks at Milford Sound Lodge picked us up and took us to our accommodation, a beautiful little cabin by the river bed.
My sister, Nadia, and I were so spoiled. We woke up to the sun and heard the water running all night. It was surreal to be away from the city and in one of the most famous fjords in the world. It’s a kind of peace you don’t often get, and it made me grateful for everything we have in our backyard.
Speaking to the staff, it was clear that Covid-19 was having a harsh effect on tourism in the area. A usually busy time during the summer with international and local tourists, it was quiet. Of course, this was preferred for our stay, but I’d say it’s a great time to head to Milford Sound before it gets happily busy again.
The lodge blends in perfectly with the landscape. It would have been strange to stay in a ten story high five star tower. It was comfortable and relaxed, as were the wonderful staff.
We chose the original Milford Sound cruise from Southern Discoveries, which took us down to the ocean’s edge and back into the fjord. During the trip you will see countless waterfalls, birds, fur seals and dolphins. No problem, just the best New Zealand wildlife in one sitting.
We stopped at New Zealand’s only floating underwater observatory. Now I’m kinda freaked out deep inside and claustrophobic to the worst degree, so if I can do it and enjoy it, you all can. I stood there looking at some ugly fish, and they looked back. There was an octopus and I was told a whale had stopped on occasion, but not that day. Still, a cool experience.
Back at the chalet, we relaxed until dinner time at the Pio Pio restaurant. Stuck in the middle of nowhere, I didn’t expect it to be so good – I’d go back to Milford Sound for the lamb shanks alone. We followed it with a glass of rosé, blue cod and a side of pickled beets with giant jacket potatoes that neither of us could finish.
The next morning we had breakfast delivered – muesli, yoghurt, berries and toast. And they do lattes in Milford Sound, just so you know. We were ready to ride the Milford Track, well at least a little.
We started with the water taxi there and were dropped off at the entrance. Talking to Gates Falls felt like we were in a different world. Nadia said it was the best walk she had ever done and she was buzzing with being away from a full life, towards pure peace. Adventurous by nature, it wasn’t out of my usual kind of weekend getaway, but there was something so much better about this walk with the big sister who seemed more relaxed than I had seen in years. It’s true, nature works wonders.
The only incident of the trip occurred on our return. The wind had picked up and we were told we needed to take a bus to Queenstown. The five hour bus trip wasn’t my favorite part, but if that’s your only option and you’re a better traveler than me on the twisty roads, then go for it.
We returned to Queenstown laughing, refreshed and with a new memory in our own backyard.
I think if you are a Kiwi, needing escape, nature, water and views, this is your trip.
Milford Sound Lodge’s Queenstown to Milford Sound overnight package starts from $2133. The package includes a coach connection from Queenstown to Milford Sound, a wilderness cruise with Southern Discoveries, one night’s cabin accommodation with breakfast, and a scenic flight to Queenstown. See: milfordlodge.com
Stay safe: New Zealand is currently under Covid-19 restrictions. Follow the instructions on covid19.govt.nz.
Carbon footprint: Flying generates carbon emissions. To offset your carbon emissions, go to airnewzealand.co.nz/sustainability-customer-carbon-offset
The writer was hosted by Milford Sound Lodge.