The Milford Sound is worth all the hype. Need I say more?
After Queenstown, I went straight to Te Anau and hop on the first tour available going to the Milford Sound. People have talked great things about the Milford Sound. Countless photographs were shot at this place and yet I was skeptical about it. As a place gets popular over time, the wow factor reduces as well. This was not the case for the Milford Sound though. My mouth was wide open throughout the whole tour beginning from the ridiculously beautiful road leading to the fjord up until the last glance at the fjord on my way back. It was truly a magical experience.
Looking for a complete itinerary for New Zealand? A Month In New Zealand On A Budget.
New Zealand Travel Video
Getting to Te Anau
I woke up early in the morning to catch a bus to Te Anau from Queenstown via NakedBus. The weather didn't look too good that day and since I would be going to the Milford Sound the next day, I expect nothing but rain.
Visiting The Milford Sound
I was so wrong. As it turned out the weather was perfect in Te Anau. My hope went up a little bit but the Milford Sound was still pretty far away and since the fjord is surrounded by mountains, the weather can become unpredictable .
I went with the Milford Sound cruise by Real Journeys. I paid around 155 NZD for the tour including a pickup and drop off at Te Anau.
Personally, I prefer not to travel with a tour but since I had limited time and no plan, I had no choice but to go with the Real Journey. They were not bad by all means, but it was just a little too touristy for me.
It was still pretty cloudy and given the fact that it rains at least 200 days a year in the Milford Sound, I expected nothing less.
The road leading to the Milford Sound was ridiculously scenic. My eyes sparkled in anticipation.
This was one of the most scenic road I have ever been on. I was so impressed by it that I had not realize that the actual tour had not begun yet!
It had been raining left and right for a week, and the day I was at the Milford Sound, the clouds miraculously disappeared. I think cried a little on the inside out of joy.
Meet the Milford Mariner, a cruise that would take me through this alien landscape.
In minutes, the boat started rolling its engine and cruised toward the mountains.
I didn't realize how big these mountains were until my eyes started noticing the size of a full-grown tree at the foot of the mountains.
I had the option to sit inside or stand on the deck. I went with the deck of course and found my own personal spot right in front of the ferry.
As we crusied through the fjord, I started to notice a huge waterfall on the side of one of the mountains. It was the Sterling waterfall.
This is the 4 sisters waterfall. The amount of water flow flunctuates depending on the amount of rain that day.
Everything in the Milford Sound seems oversized. It was like crusing through a set from the movie, King Kong.
If you have been wondering how big these actually are, here is a ferry for scale.
The captain stopped at one of the waterfall and plunged the ferry's front under a waterfall. I was almost soaked!
The wind and the height of the waterfall probably contributed to the way the water sprayed down instead of flowing normally.
After crusing for an hour, we eventually reached the open ocean and had to turn back.
Since we were cruising through valleys and fjords the wind was strong enough to make my face numb. I decided to go back inside and rest a bit.
As I was resting my eyes, the ferry came to a halt. I quickly ran out to the deck and see what was up, and as it turned out, the captain spotted this little fella and stopped for us to take some photos. It was the first and the last time I spotted a penguin in New Zealand.
Here is the Sterling waterfall up close. Stunning isn't it?
Again, the captain plunged the front of the ferry under the fall and I managed to snap this photo without breaking my camera. It was worth it.
Two hours was more than enough to appreciate the sight of the Milford Sound on a cruise in my opinion.
How fortunate I was to be able to experience the Milford Sound on the clearest day ever. Not many people were able to see the Milford Sound as I did and I am grateful for it.
New Zealand is truly the only country in the world that over-delivered its promises about nature. They are very proud of it and they have all the rights in the world to be. The Milford Sound is truly nature's masterpiece.
At the end of the day, I took one last look at the Milford Sound and headed back to Te Anau to meet up with my friend Ashley and her sister Rachel whom I would be traveling with for the next 3 days.
Stay tuned for the next entry where we will explore the South Island's great nature closer than ever before by walking the famous Routeburn Great Walk.
Continue Reading the Next Part: A Hiking Guide to the Routeburn Track.
Further Reading for Backpacking in New Zealand
I’ve spent 5 weeks backpacking in New Zealand and I have written a ton more about my journey traveling throughout New Zealand from the North Island to the South Island that you might help in your trip planning.
Here’s a selection of articles about New Zealand:
- Looking for a complete travel guide to spend one month in New Zealand on a budget? A Month In New Zealand On A Budget - The Perfect Backpacking Itinerary.
- New Zealand has a special place in my heart. It is one of the most memorable trips I have ever done and here are 10 things I love about New Zealand.
- If you are planning to start traveling in New Zealand from North to South, Rotorua is a great place to visit on your way South from Auckland. Here is a travel guide on things to do in Rotorua.
- Did you know that you can climb Mount Doom from Lord of the Rings in real life? Along the Tongariro Crossing trail, you have the option to summit Mount Ngauruhoe which was used as a reference for Mount Doom in the movie. Here a travel guide on how to hike the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in one day.
- Crossing from the North Island of New Zealand to the South is an experience in and of itself. See how to cross from the North Island to the South Island in New Zealand here.
- One of the first big city you will travel in the South Island is Nelson which has a laid-back vibe while Motueka, a sister town makes a great base to traveling to Abel Tasman National Park. Here’s a quick travel guide on things to do in Nelson and Motueka.
- One of the best Great Walk you can do is in the Abel Tasman National Park and you can do parts of it in one day. Here’s a complete guide on how to hike parts of the Abel Tasman Great Walk in one day.
- The West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand is not very popular among travelers, making it a great place to go off the beaten path. Here’s a travel guide on things to do, and where to go in West Port, New Zealand.
- Franz Josef or Fox Glacier, a question that has been asked for as long as travelers start traveling in New Zealand. It doesn’t really matter which one you pick as both are a great place to go ice climbing. Here’s a travel guide on how to go ice climbing on Franz Josef glacier with Ice Explorer.
- You must have a seen photo of a lone tree in a lake with beautiful mountains as a background somewhere. That’s in Wanaka, New Zealand and here’s travel guide on things to do in Wanaka in one day.
- Queenstown is the adventure capital of the world. If your body can endure it, you can find it in Queenstown. Here’s a 3 days itinerary on things to do in Queenstown.
- Queenstown is also one of the best places in the world to go skydiving. Here’s my experience skydiving with the NZONE in Queenstown.
- One of the best Great Walk in New Zealand you can do is the Routeburn Track. Here’s a complete 3 days itinerary and travel guide on how to trek the Routeburn Track.
- Mount Cook is the tallest mountain in New Zealand, and the best way to see it is to hike the Hooker Valley trail. Here’s a travel guide on visiting Mt. Cook and hiking the Hooker Valley trail.
- Dunedin is a great place to end your trip in New Zealand. After all the adventure you have been through, here’s how to spend 5 days in Dunedin, taking it slow and seeing the city at your own leisure.
- Not convinced by my words about New Zealand? Come follow me and I’ll show you New Zealand in 70 photos.
- You can see all my New Zealand travel guides and related articles on my New Zealand Travel Guide page.
The Solo Traveler’s Journal is a series of posts by BucketListly where we will follow our founder, Pete Rojwongsuriya around the world as he singlehandedly travel alone and experience different cultures, people, and historical locations one country at a time.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links.