This was a big ticket day for us, and something I had wanted to do for years. Milford is a pretty remote place, we were staying in the nearest town Te Anau, only 120k from Milford but they advise you to allow 3 hours for the journey!
Our booked cruise wasn’t until 12:15, but we left at 8am as you have to check in early, and only 15 minutes into the journey we could see why it takes so long, you are continually stopping to look at the view!
About 30 minutes late the scenery changed to flat farmland and we had to stop to let the traffic pass.
We had driven through a lot of cloud and mist on the first part of the journey, then the scenery got more dramatic as we climbed, the clouds interacting with the landscape and making beautiful patterns.
An hour or so in we came to a major stop for tourists on the way to , the mirror lakes, a beutiful place where the mountains are reflected in the small lakes here, the only issue were the ducks annoyingly swimming in the water and causing ripples, and the hordes of tourists jostling for the best position to take snapshots.
We stopped several more times and even did a short walk, so by the time we got to Milford it was 10:45, we got parked fairly quicky (it can be a nightmare). The views from the car park were pretty stunning as we walked the 10 minutes to the cruise terminal.
Milford apparently was the wettest place in the world last year with over 9.2 metres of rain (about 27 feet – remind me not to complain about a downpour in Essex again), and it rains heavily for over 200 days of the year. But once again we were lucky, the clouds had broken, the sun was shining and it looked like it was going to be a beautiful day!
There are many cruise options to choose from, but we went with Southern Discoveries small boat cruise, a smaller boat that can get in much closer to the mountain walls, and we had taken the longer option”Nature Cruise” that takes you right out of the Fiord and in to the Tasman sea.
The cruise started well as we went past an amazing waterfall. There was an excellent commentary throughout the whole cruise with information and history of the Fiord and the people who first explored it, including the fact that it was incorrectly named a sound when it is in fact a Fiord (which is why this area is called Fiord land).
I took hundreds of photos, but below are a sample to give a flavour of what it’s like, but here, like much of South Island, the scenery is vast, difficult to describe and pictures don’t do it justice, it really is somewhere you just need to see for yourself.
The other advantage of going with Souther Discoveries is that it gave us the option to Kayak on the sound (Fiord – whatever). We had an awesome (in the true sense of the word) time kayaking for well over an hour, including to the mouth of a river where we could fill our water bottles with the freshest coolest water you are ever likely to drink, a fantastic time with a knowledgable and friendly guide, we wwere sad when it had to finish (though my arms ached).
We then spent an hour in the company of a young enthusiastic marine biologist who took us done into the underwater discovery center where the is a room with 360° views of the Fiord. We saw a lot of fish and coral, but sadly no shark (they do come into the Fiord from time to time, but apparently don’t eat people.
We got the last boat back to Miford dock, jumped in the car and headed off for a couple of stops we didn’t have time for on the way, luckily it is light here until 9pm so we had plenty of time, and got back to the house for a late dinner and as we were so knackered, an early night.