Personally, out of all the destinations we’ve pegged on our map for the south island, Milford Sound was on the top of my list. A breathtaking scenic fjord with towering majestic mountains on either side, crystal, clear blue water, and cascading waterfalls- a photographers true dream spot. I nursed Zo back to sleep at 5:30 that morning, while listening to the “early birds” leaving Cascade Creek campground to make the 1 hour drive to The Sound for first light and before the crowds- jealousy swept over me, and I decided I would just have to come back one day to get that same opportunity.
We could have camped a bit closer but without advanced booking (first time in this country so far) we were hooped. Instead we stayed at a rather primitive conservation camp site on lake Gunn, which despite being fairly crowded was still naturally quiet. There was an easy 45 minute (1 hr plus with kids) nature walk through the thick, mossy forest to the edge of a large, clear mountain lake. Ry enjoyed this walk more than any other so far, as it was flat and with lots of things to explore, brave little birds to peck your feet, and rocks to throw.
For our scenic boat cruise we opted for a 2 hour mid morning trip which was perfect length for our purposes and for little people. It was a clear, sunny day, which was perfect, and not necessarily common for the area. Zo has a solid track record of napping on boats and this time she didn’t hesitate to snooze through the scenery- towering waterfalls, playful little seals, and the smooth open water bordered with steep rocky mountains. This is a place where photos truly cannot do justice and cannot compare to that which we have seen with our own two eyes.
The route by car was very scenic as well, with a winding switchback down through the pass and through a 1km long tunnel which cut through the massive rock face like a toothpick hole in a giant piece of cake. We learned on our cruise that there is a fault line 100 years over due for a 8-9 magnitude earthquake in the area- but don’t think about that when you drive through, he said.
Definitely worth the visit, and our expectations were certainly met, despite my mild regrets of not capturing the smooth fjord at sunrise. Onward we head back to the town of Te Anau where we spent a night prior to Milford at one of the best “Top 10 Holiday Parks” adjacent to the lake and a few minutes walk from town and the best playground in NZ so far. Ry (“yay yay yay”)and Zo (she squeals and flaps her arms like a bird) are both stoked to repeat their mini-zipline adventure over and over and over again and to ride the double swing.