NZ South Island – Te Anau (Milford Sound)

Hello readers. It was our first early morning on the trip today. It was a mixed sleep last night as the bed at our airbnb is quite comfortable , but it is only a double and we sleep on a king at home. It was a bit of a struggle waking up. Despite this, we got up quickly and ducked over to the bakery down the road called Wapiti Bakery. We ordered a sausage roll and a ham, cheese, tomato and pineapple toastie as well as a coffee. It was pretty good. Nothing unexpected but just solid, good breakfast items.

We then jumped back in the car and embarked on our adventure for the day. We were driving to the world famous Milford Sound within the Fiordland National Park which is about a 2 hours drive from Te Anau (pronounced: Tay-Ah-No). The road for the first hour is pretty normal country driving and then all of a sudden it gets insane. You drive on windy roads on a very steep descent into an amazing vast valley surrounded by massive mountains. The drive is as stunning as it is treacherous. There is a one way tunnel that has been drilled directly through a mountain that has no lights in it so you need your headlights on as well a numerous one way bridges. There are even sections of the road where these weird massive parrots called Kea fly down and land on your car and try to eat the antenna! It was certainly not a boring drive.

Eventually we reached the bottom which is where the boat terminal is located. We had a great trip booked that was a nature cruise, some time in the underwater observatory and a couple of hours kayaking. However, due to extreme weather recently the underwater observatory (also where the kayaks leave from) has been damaged and the kayaking and observatory portion of our tour was cancelled. We were still determined to do the nature cruise (which is what the vast majority of tourists here do anyway – we just wanted extra!). It is said that Milford Sound can get up to 10 metres of rain per year and is one of the wettest places on the planet with on average over 200 days of rain per year. We got lucky and it was perfectly clear and the sun was shining.

It was a two hour cruise on a three storey ferry-type boat that floated the length of Milford Sound. Milford Sound is a UNESCO World Heritage site and you can see why. It was really beautiful. The large mountains with snow on the top and covered in trees that had a thick channel of water separating them was just lovely. Very tall waterfalls were streaming down some of the cliff faces.

Even though upwards of 500,000 tourists visit Milford sound each year, it still feels untouched by humans just due to the sheer difficulty that it would take to inhabit any of the land. The best part about it was just how natural it felt. Even though it wasn’t the way we wanted to experience the Milford Sound we are just happy that we got to witness the natural beauty first-hand.

Our nature cruise came with a little packed lunch that included a chicken salad sandwich, packet of chips, chocolate, cookies, apple, kiwi fruit and cheese and crackers. It went down well.

After the boat ride we walked back to the car park and noticed there was a short hike signposted nearby and we decided to do it. It was only 20 minutes near the foreshore of Milford Sound and it was really quite nice. A little walk through the forest with a seat at the end as a reward that you can sit on and enjoy the beautiful view of the front of Milford Sound.

We then undertook the drive back to our accommodation in Te Anau. It was a quiet and tired 2 hours. We didn’t have anything else schedule until dinner time but we did notice when we were at breakfast that the cinema across the road from the bakery plays a short-film that was shot in the Fiordland National Park. The film explains some of the history and looks at the wildlife and weather of the park. It was shot over a year from helicopters. It was very grand and was nice to see it at the cinema. We kind of wish we had seen it prior to going into the park though.

It was nearly dinner time. We went back to the accommodation and got ready for our first restaurant meal. We had a table booked at The Fat Duck which is a gastropub in town. It’s quite a nice little venue that has live music sometimes. Unfortunately not tonight though. We had a look at the menu and decided that we would order a few small plates to share. They had the option to order via QR code so we took that up. We ordered Goat’s cheese filo cigars with honey and hazelnuts, salt and pepper squid, Duck Wontons and Thrice cooked chips. Unfortunately Aimee made a mistake on the order and ended up ordering 2x Salt and Pepper squid and forgetting the wontons. Doh! We just ordered extra wontons and copped the double salt and pepper squid, which turned out to be the best dish anyway. The sauce it came with was a delicious ginger, soy and lime. The other stuff was okay – but nothing special.

Breakfast – $15
Parking – $22
Snacks – $16
Cinema – $21
Dinner – $92
Total – $166

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