Our 5th anniversary adventure brought us through 4 seasons and 2 new countries within 2 weeks. Started our trip hanging out with friends in San Francisco, followed by a relaxing getaway in Fiji, and ended the trip with a 10-day road trip across New Zealand. I'll share more about our adventures in the next few posts. Follow along!
Nov 29 (Thurs): Queenstown - Milford Sound - Queenstown (566kms)
After a long day of driving the day before, our original plan was to have a more relaxing sightseeing day around Queenstown and do the long drive back and forth Milford Sound the day after. However, as we were going to swap rental car the next day, we decided to change our schedule and do the long drive while we have the RAV4. Most people spend the night at Te Anau (midway between Queenstown and Milford Sound) if they plan to visit MIlford Sound early, but because our hotel in Queenstown was already paid for with points, we decided to just wake up earlier to do the drive.
It takes approximately 4 hours to drive one-way from Queenstown to Milford Sound and since we've already bought our tickets for the 9am Milford Sound cruise, we departed Queenstown at 4.40am to make sure we make it in time for the cruise. First hour of the drive was pretty much dark and foggy.
Best part about driving so early...having the roads to ourselves!
Drove through majestic mountains at Fiordland National Park and the Hommer tunnel.
Finally made it to Milford Sound at 8.30am! It took 10min to walk from the car park to the Wharf Terminal Building, so make sure to give yourself some extra time. We checked-in at the Jucy Cruise counter and received our 'boarding pass' and a card each for light refreshments on board.
As you can see from the dock, there are a number of cruises to choose from and we picked Jucy because they had a 50% discount for Jucy driver (we had a 3-day car relocation booking with Jucy). Besides, the 8.55am cruise was also the cheapest one for the day and less crowded, so it was an easy decision. We paid a total of NZD 67.50 ($46) for 2 person. =) They requested to see our Jucy car key when we picked up our tickets but we told them that we haven't collected our car so we showed them the booking email instead.
Boarding the boat was smooth and easy. We claimed our light refreshment (cake) and went straight to the top deck to get a good spot to enjoy the views. There are also complimentary coffee and tea. We were very lucky to have a such a clear and beautiful day! Spot the lil' elephant in the bottom left photo.
Amazing cruising around the fjords surrounded by soaring mountains all around us.
Plenty of time to take plenty of photos, we took way too many photos and realized they all looked similar...lol!
Spotted some penguins and seals and got up close and personal with the waterfalls.
Panaroma to show the vastness of Milford Sound.
After 2 hours of cruising, we ended our cruise at 11am. Was the cruise worth the price? Definitely...how often do we get to cruise through fjords like this right? Funny coincident, we had a Malaysian tour group on the same cruise so half of the people on our cruise were Malaysians...lol!
We had the rest of the day to slowly drive back to Queenstown so we took our time and stopped along the way for photos.
Random waterfall and river at the side of the road, and soaked up the views of the lush forest from the Hollyford Valley Lookout.
Colorful flowers blooming at both sides of the road along our drive back to Queenstown.
Drove along Lake Wakatipu as we got closer to Queenstown.
These 3 panoramas were taken at 3 different lookout points. Same same but different. =P
Finally made it back to Queenstown at 5pm after 12.5 hours! Time to get some food, some rest, and take it easy for the next two days. =)
That's it for day 3 of our road trip in New Zealand. Stay tuned for the next post! As a token of appreciation for scrolling through this long post, here's our map and itinerary to help you plan for your New Zealand adventure! Click on the top right 'square' to open in Google Maps.