What a busy – and amazing – few days it has been! The time has flown since our first evening in our Spaceship at the very beautiful Moke Lake.
Day 2: Queenstown to Te Anau
We left Moke Lake in the morning – after doing a walk around part of the lake – it was very beautiful. We headed into Queenstown for lunch at PJs (another favourite of ours – who do yummy traditional British fish and chips), before setting off for Te Anau. With a few stops along the way including at Garston – NZ’s most inland village – we arrived in Te Anau early evening. We checked into our holiday park (for more details see below) and spent a nice evening here planning the days ahead.
Day 3: Milford Sound
We awoke very early (after having an extra hour in bed due to the clocks going back), got ready using the excellent facilities, and set off on the road to Milford Sound in our wonderful Spaceship, Mysteron. I made a quick call to a lovely woman at Mitre Peak Cruises to check there were still spaces on the cruise we had planned to take with them (the 1.35pm) and she informed me there was. Our decision to go to Milford Sound today was partly due to the fact the weather was good and the forecast was also for continued good weather. Last time we had visited Milford Sound – back in 2006 – it was raining heavily with low visibly, and although we really enjoyed the trip we always said we would like to return in better weather. We also previously took that trip to Doubtful Sound (see my old blogpost from Oct for more info) in crazy rain and bad weather, so vowed if we ever did either sound again it would be in better weather. And we were so lucky as the weather was mostly clear blue skies and lots of sun – it was perfect!
The drive down to Milford Sound is just amazing – it really is one of the best drives in the whole of New Zealand! You can drive it in between 2 and 2 and a half hours, but we took nearly 4 hours as there are so many great stops along the way. We visited Mirror Lakes to take some great photos of the reflections of the mountains in the lake and were very lucky the water was so calm. We also stopped at Lake Gunn to do the pretty nature walk there – and took some more photos.
We stopped at various places by the side of the road to take in the surrounding beauty, and to take yet more photos! I have taken a few with the spaceship in too – as it is pretty photogenic! The road is quite challenging and many opt to take one of the many coach tours, but we are very independent travellers and loved doing the drive ourselves. It is really a big part of the trip there for us – the scenery along the way is stunning. We headed through the Homer Tunnel – which was fun – and then down the windy zig zag road that takes you down to Milford Sound. We could have spent another few hours on the drive down (easily) but were happy with the stops we took.
On arriving at Milford Sound we parked up and ate a quick lunch at the Blue Duck cafe before heading off to the ferry terminal. We took some great photos on the walk up there. We paid for and picked up our boarding passes for the cruise. We decided on taking a cruise with Mitre Peak Cruise – as in our opinion they are the best people to take a cruise with on Milford. The price was $80 per person and the cruise lasted 2 hours.
They are the same company we took our trip with back in 2006 and it was just as good – if not better – especially because the weather was so much clearer! The main reason for taking a trip with them is the smaller boats – we were on a boat with capacity of 75 but only had just over 30 people so we had loads of space to move around. We just really like the smaller boat trip experience and felt like we had more space to ourselves and could get closer to different parts of the sound. We experienced the ‘big boat’ of Real Journeys on Doubtful and just really prefer the smaller boat experience. We had a wonderful 2 hours out on the sound – with the bright sun shining down and the incredible scenery all around.
After a really wonderful day we then took the drive back up to Te Anau. On the way back we stopped at ‘The Chasm’ where we took a short walk to see an impressive waterfall flowing underneath a bridge. We were also very excited to see a couple of kea in the car park – they especially liked climbing on the cars and took a real liking to ‘Mysteron’ – our Spaceship! I took a few pics of them standing on our spaceship. It was great to see them and they really are quite ‘cheeky’!
We had considered stopping at one of the DOC sites on the way, but after stopping at the toilets partway up the Milford road and being attacked by sandflies (despite using loads of repellant) we thought it would be better to go all the way back. We checked back in at the holiday park and fell asleep pretty early after a tiring day!
Day 4: Te Anau/Lake Mistletoe
We spent a relaxing day today – as my husband is still working for the next 3 weeks – he could catch up on some work. We also had a nice wander around Te Anau and took a drive up to Lake Mistletoe for a nice walk.
Tomorrow we are headed back to the Catlins region that we visited back in October last year and absolutely loved it – so can’t wait to do some more exploring there.
Where we stayed: Te Anau Lake View Holiday park – cost for a powered site is $38 and cabins start from $60. This is a great holiday park – very close to Te Anau town centre, with excellent facilities – including free unlimited hot and high pressured (and very clean) showers! We would definitely recommend staying here.
Where we spent time: Queenstown, Milford Sound, the Milford road, Te Anau
Where we are headed next: Catlins region