Milford Sound was once voted as the "8th wonder in the world" - and there's no surprises why! It is one of the most popular day trips from Queenstown and absolute New Zealand must do! We sent Stephen from "A Backpacker's Tale" on a Milford Sound Day Tour with Kiwi Experience. Here's how it went...
A voice came over the bus speaker "Welcome, us here at Kiwi Experience refer to this hour of the morning as stupid early." I gave a grunt that screamed "no jokes before the sun rises." I cracked one eye open to see steam rising off my coffee. I intently stared at it counting down the seconds until it was cool enough to chug.
Needlessly to say I am not a morning person, especially when I had a few beers at Loco the night before, but as we drove and the sun started to peak it's face over the craggy mountains, my mood began to improve.
I mean how could I stay moody about a little thing like waking up at 6:30 a.m.? By this afternoon, we would be cruising through the sheer peaks of Milford Sound, by far one of the coolest sites on the South Island.
As the sun rose, people started to peek their heads out from their eye mask and blankets. Soon the bus was filled with light conversation of people getting to know one another.
This is one thing I love about life on the road. Everyone wants to talk, and make friends. A lot of people that are shy in normal life are social butterflies when traveling. They have no problem walking up to a group of strangers, sitting down, and starting a conversation.
By now the sun was shining over the snow capped mountains, and we decided to have a breakfast stop and see a group of alpacas.
Any time I am up before ten the words "breakfast stop" actually translates to "2 large coffees for me." Soon we were all back on the road. One thing that surprised me was that the closer we got to Milford Sound the more stunning the landscape became. Towering mountains reflected in the mirror-like pools, golden valleys stretched off into the horizon, and we stopped at a spring so clean that we could fill up our water bottles. I am no stranger to New Zealand's landscape, so I was not expecting to be shocked. However, the drive to Milford is some of the most awe-inspiring landscape in the entire country.
These epic views sum up the rest of my morning. We stopped the bus on and off for brief backpacker photo ops.
You know what I am talking about, the classic backpacker photos of six people trying to jump in the air at the same time, or a person running aimlessly in a field skipping and jumping around as 20 people take photos of them.
It also let us take in the beauty of this vibrant country which is unparalleled. By one o'clock we arrived at Milford Sound, and jumped on our Jucy Cruize Boat. This is going to sound a bit cliche, but bear with me; Milford Sound is something you have to see to believe. No words can sum up the beauty of this place, but since it is my job as an 'Experience Ambassador' let's take a shot at it.
Picture vertical cliffs jutting almost straight up out of the water nearly 1,700 Meters, their sides covered with patches of greenish moss. Now, imagine yourself on a boat surrounded by said cliffs. On either side are waterfalls of all shapes and sizes.
The boat went along at a leisurely pace letting us enjoy the incredible sights.
Many of us had made friends on the bus and as we toured Milford we all enjoyed each others company and took in the experience together. Heading back we were lucky enough to spot some seals playing on the rocks. The captain of the vessel decided to get brave and nosed the ship right up under Sterling Falls, the biggest waterfall in Milford. All I could hear was roaring water as it splashed all around us covering everyone on the deck. Including yours truly.
Milford itself was an unforgettable experience with new friends, stunning cliffs, and a beautiful landscape. It is definitively one of the best experiences in the South Islands.
After docking, we all headed back to the bus. Our guide put on some movies for the ride to help us chat and relax for the drive back. In a few hours time, we would be back at Base Queenstown which, of course, means I would soon be at the pool competition at Locos!