We haven’t even been in New Zealand 24 hours yet, and I feel like we need a week just to rest. Today we had a big drive ahead of us… for a total of 10 hours. While it was only about 400ish km, the roads were very windey, singlelaned, and you had to drive slow. The alarm went off at 5:45 and we were in our rental car by 6:00. It was foggy, overcast, and we had a lot of snacks (thankfully theres a grocery store 1 mile from the hotel that we stocked up on food at ). Little did we know, this would be the most beautiful drive, of our lives. When looking into rental cars vs buses, we definitely splurged and spoiled ourselves with a rental car. Had we used a bus for transportation here, and to Christchurch, we probably would have spent $150 each, instead of about $400 each (with gas). However, it was extremely worth the expense, since we were able to pull over as we pleased. The number of times that I had Greg pulled over, he should of driven off without me. However, there were so many little nooks to see along the way. In my itinerary, I had printed out a map with each place to stop, however, this proved unnecessary as each location had signs/postage along the way.
Places to Stop on the Drive to Milford Sound:
- Te Anau (Small town, right on a river with some artsy/country stores and resturaunts). When we came it was very foggy, very early, and raining. We did not stay but 5 minutes to get gas.
- Mirror Lakes,- “lake matheson” reflections of Earl Mountains, beech forest & wetlands- it was very beautiful, with massive trees. However, due to the rain/fog, we were unable to see the famous “mirror” reflection.
- Knobs Flat interpretational display, geology and wildlife.
- Pops View
- Holly Ford Valley- The “divide”- My favorite viewing point of the entire drive. I felt like we were at the end of the world. I have never had such massive mountains/ cliffs/rocks surrounding me. I felt like an ant, I felt like the mountains could squash me.
- Homer Tunnel 1200m rock hewn tunnel, car park and nature walk- It was a bit scary going into the tunnel… it is 1 way and very dark. We had to wait on one side for about 15 minutes, which wasn’t long enough. This was the most interesting scenery that we were to see!
- The Chasm waterfall walk, waterfalls and water-sculpted rocks, (20 mins) – At this stop, I did the walk and Greg stayed in the car to eat. It reminded me of the Gorge in NH… but the rocks, shaped by the water, were some of the neatest that I ever saw!If you have the time, it is definitely worth the quick trip.
Besides these spots that were marked on my list to stop at, we found another 5-6 that were truly magestic. I can’t count the number of times that we stopped to just look, in amazement.
I am just putting it in writing, that this was the most beautiful drive that I have ever done. The changes in scenery within just 30 minutes, is as if you were driving from Texas to Antarctica.. it truly is so contrasting and changing at every moment. For that matter, and for my awesome music selection, the drive went by fast. . Greg was a phenomenal chauffeur.
Once at Milford Sound, we did a 2 hour boat tour, saw the “fijords”. The tourguide talked the entire time, telling us the history of the people in the land. Because we were so focused on the views, a lot of it didn’t stick. But we can read up on it later. For most of the boatride, it was overcast, but it did lighten up at the end, and for our drive back. Reading up on Milford Sound, it says 95% of the time it is overcast/rainy, so the fact that we even saw a little sun was miraculous. There were SO many waterfalls. Prior to this trip, I had never even seen one. I fell in love with the sight and sound of them.
After the boat tour, we hopped in the car and turned around for the 5 hours back. This drive went by much faster since we didn’t stop at so many places. It was amazing, we had the sunroof open, the windows down, and the sun was shining as hot as it could for a summer day. We saw 934092384 more sheep than I have ever in my entire life. This is no exaggeration.
Because of our long long day, we got back at around 6pm and just took it easy. We had apps at the hotel restaurant, got a bottle of wine from the grocery store and snuggled in bed early (And yes, it was still light out).
5 words to describe this part of the trip? Magestic, Enchanting, Unreal, Beautiful, Peaceful