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Milford Sound: The Eighth Wonder of the World


Milford Sound: The Eighth Wonder of the World

story by: Tom Ricketts

Us Kiwis are great travellers and the humble OE has fast become a part of Kiwi culture and a rite of passage. One part of travel we’re not so good at though, is travelling in our own backyard, New Zealand! The odd weekends to Queenstown, Wellington and Auckland are commonplace for sure, but one other must visit for all New Zealander’s is the world famous Milford Sound. Every New Zealand scenic calendar or travel brochure made has a picture of Milford Sound somewhere in it. And that picture is always pretty impressive. The great news is that Milford even more impressive in real life! 

Getting there is the hard part, but all part of the experience. Most people pre book themselves on a day tour from Queenstown, but few realise when booking that it’s a twelve hour day trip from Queenstown! Ideally you would go from Te Anau which halves that, making it a two hour journey each way. From Te Anau the road winds alongside the deep blue Lake Te Anau, the second largest in New Zealand. From there you cross the Eglinton Valley with its vast landscape of yellow tussock contrasting brilliantly with the rainforest covered mountains beyond. Then climb into the hills alongside the Hollyford River as it roughly tumbles its way down beside. Eventually you’ll get to the Homer Tunnel, an unlined tunnel which runs 1270 metres through the mountain and brings you to the Cleddau Valley, you’re first taste of Milford Sound. Descend through the valley full of waterfalls and finally reach the ocean where the iconic Milford Sound scene presents itself through Mitre Peak rising nearly 1700 metres straight out of the ocean. 

Boats ply the fiords waters several times a day and acrobatic dolphins and lazy seals are often seen. Some cruisers may even be lucky enough to spot penguins or whales too. All along the fiord, waterfalls cascade down the cliffs and it’s always a crowd favourite is when the boats cruise right underneath the falls. 

On a beautiful sunny day, the views over the fiord are absolutely break taking, especially if the water is calm when you’re treated to a mirrored image of Mitre Peak. But don’t despair if it’s raining. In fact, being one of the wettest places on the planet, chances are that it probably will be raining! But with the rain comes waterfalls, and lots of them. It’s thought that over 100 extra waterfalls pour over the fiords steep cliffs making an amazing scene.

Those wanting to get closer to the wildlife can take a kayaking trip on the fiord, and certified divers can see the far brighter array of corals under the waters. There’s one lodge in fiord with hostel to hotel room style accommodation, and a couple of passenger ships doing overnight cruises. All accommodations and tours need to be pre booked and sell out well in advance, particularly in summer, so be sure to check with your favourite House of Travel agent.

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