Fiordland

by Johnny

With our bellies full from an amazing lunch at Amisfield Bistro courtesy of Jay, we made the drive along Lake Wakatipu down to Te Anau…the gateway to Fiordland.  We had a day to kill before heading to Milford Sound, and the rain let up just enough for us to explore the town of Te Anau and go on a little hike at nearby Lake Manapouri.  With a handful of restaurants and shops and a nice lakeside path, Te Anau is definitely worth a night or two to break up the long drive from Queenstown to Milford Sound.

Of course, the main reason for coming to Te Anau is its proximity to Fiordland National Park, home to Milford and Doubtful Sounds.  Fun Fact: Milford and Doubtful Sounds are technically fiords, as they were created by retreating glacial activity and not running water.  These sounds are regarded as two of the most spectacular sights in New Zealand…which must make them two of the most spectacular sights on earth.  We chose to explore the more popular Milford Sound and hit the road early to make it to our 10:00am cruise.  Whoa!  The 119km drive from Te Anau to Milford Sound along the Milford Highway is an adventure in itself.  We passed the rolling farmland near Te Anau Down and the beautiful Eglinton Valley before taking in the reflections at Mirror Lakes.  Next we drove through beech forests and wetlands until we headed into the long, dark, wet, one-way Homer Tunnel.  I have panic attacks on Splash Mountain at Disneyland, so let’s just say this wasn’t my favorite part of the drive.  After the Homer Tunnel it was another white-knuckle 20km drive down impossibly windy roads and across one lane bridges until we arrived at the boat terminal with just enough time to grab a coffee and for me to change my underwear.

Our tour of Milford Sound was something I won’t soon forget.  We cruised by the imposing Mitre Peak, alongside steep cliffs, right next to waterfalls (made all the better from the heavy rainfall over the past couple of days), past seal colonies and out to the Tasman Sea before heading back again.  The vegetation was pretty incredible as well.  With over 200 days of rainfall a year, Fiordland National Park is technically a rainforest.  I’ve never seen such lush, almost tropical, trees clinging to the side of sheer cliffs.  One guy on our boat hit the nail on the head when he said, “Milford Sound must be what happens when Hawaii and Alaska have a baby.”  After our cruise, we stopped at a couple more viewpoints we missed along the drive before making a picnic and heading back to Te Anau.  What a day!

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5 Responses to “Fiordland”

  1. As I was reading this blog, I was thinking about the fiords of Alaska…We cruised up Tracy Arm — 22.7 miles long, 1.5 miles wide and 700 feet deep. At the end of the fiord is the active Sawyer Glacier. To the southeast we could see Sumdum Glacier. I just remember thinking how grand everything was. Something else to think of (grand) Alaska and (tropical) Hawaii having a “baby!” I don’t believe you’ve met a place you didn’t LOVE on this adventure. So many amazing sights!

    I sure enjoy reading your blogs. Thanks again for sharing 🙂

    • Hi Aunt Joni! Fiordland definitely reminded me a lot of Alaska. Such a cool spot. And tons of fly-fishing for those men in your life. So glad to hear your following along with our adventure. Cheers,
      Johnny and Anna

  2. I,too, will never forget seeing Milford Sound on April 23, 1998! So glad you are enjoying New Zealand. I loved it All.
    Also grateful you got to see Jay there and have that time together.
    Thanks for your blog that I enjoy so much. We got Julie married last Sunday in Fallbrook in a lovely ceremony in a tropical garden on a beautiful day. Missed you. See you pretty soon now!
    Much love, Moonie

    • Hi Moonie! How cool you have been to Milford Sound also. Such an amazing spot. Anna and I are off to Bali tomorrow and then we’ll be home in three weeks. Can’t wait to catch up in real life. Love you,
      Johnny and Anna

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