New Zealand Road Trip: Milford Sound

Milford Sound is the most beautiful place I have ever been in my life, and most likely the most beautiful place I ever will be.  (I guess that is a big claim, and maybe someday I will travel to somewhere more beautiful that Fiordland, but for now, I can’t imagine such a place!)

When we drove through Te Anu, we filled out gas tank up and braced ourselves for the intimidating Milford Road, a 112 k trip that we had all been nervously anticipating, as it is known for its difficultly in winter time, and we had already experienced two and a half weeks of what we thought was wind-y, mountainous roads.

The road was beautiful– mountains and hills and meadows, and every turn revealed even more natural beauty.


As we drove further into the mountains, a thick layer of fog began creeping across the scenery.  Soon, it was like we were driving through a landscape of the stuff, and, when we finally saw mountains, they were more like shadowy outlines emerging out of nowhere. As the mountains began to develop their definition, I started to notice waterfalls everywhere.  It was as if the mountain had spouted a leak. It cascaded from high above our line of sight, seemingly out of no where at all.  We really lucked out, because this was as a result of a rainstorm that we never had to experience.  By the next day, all the waterfalls were gone, as if by some sort of magic.

At this point, imagine me, half hanging out the car, yelling, “This is incredible! This is the most beautiful place I have ever seen!”  This would be an accurate image, as that is exactly what I was doing.  🙂

With only about fifteen minutes left of the road, we had to drive through a one way tunnel carved through the mountain. The inside was actually the rough stone of the interior of the mountain– no joke!

We stayed in the Milford Lodge, which was nestled in between mountains, and next to a river that fed into the sound.

My New Zealand dream was to kayak in Milford Sound, so the next day we were picked up by our guide for a sunrise paddle.

Words cannot express how incredibly beautiful the scenery was.  I was in awe for the entirety of the trip, but especially during our three hours on the water.  I really enjoy kayaking, and as someone who grew up canoeing every summer while at camp, kayaks are a more fun, faster version of something that I already think is fun.


Our kayaking guide told us that it was an unusually nice day– the sky was blue, and all of the peaks were visible.  (The day before, we found out, it had rained the entire time, and the kayakers were completely soaked by the end of the trip.)

It wasn’t enough for me, just one time out on the water of the fjord, so I booked a boat tour for the next day.  (How could I come all the way to Milford Sound, and only go out once?!  The receptionist joked that I should “be careful, or I will end up working there!  Don’t joke about that very real temptation, sir.)  Janna came with me.  During our kayak, we both had left our DSLR cameras back at the Lodge because we didn’t want them to get damaged, so this was also a good way to get some snaps.

The boat tour was great, and it allowed us to see more of the fjord than we could have simply by paddling.


About five minutes into the boat ride, the captain announced, “someone must be wearing their lucky underwear, folks, because we have some bottlenose dolphins swimming with us today!” (Janna and I decided that it was us who had on our lucky underwear, since by this time we had brilliant weather the entire trip.)

We got up close and personal with Sterling Falls, receiving what the captain called a “glacial facial” from the mist of the glacially fed waterfall.


Milford Sound was our last major stop of the trip, and what a way to end!


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