Milford Sound, AKA ‘Jesus fuck this is beautiful’, AKA ‘oh my God I need to take a picture of this’ is a fjord in the south west of New Zealand’s South Island, about a four hour drive through twisting mountain roads from Queenstown. Fjordland National Park is a major staple of tourism in New Zealand and Milford Sound is its top destination. Coming from the northern hemisphere, I’ve always wanted to visit the fjords of Norway, but New Zealand are giving them a run for their money with this beautiful piece of landscape in what Rudyard Kipling himself described as the eighth wonder of the world.
Before we get into the fjord itself, I’d like to take you through our journey. A 7:15 pick-up from Queenstown meant an excitable and cranky bunch of backpackers pulled themselves from the warmth of Haka Lodge’s beds and into the icy cold chill of New Zealand air. Anyone who was intending to get any sleep on the coach had their dreams immediately slashed when Pierre the fucking Parrot would not stop rabbiting on over the intercom. I don’t know why it made it worse that he was French, it just did. After about two hours of listening to Julian Escargot Napoleon talk about the length of each blade of grass in New Zealand, we were allowed a stopover and were funneled into a tourist trap. The only upside of this bustling stopover was the fact that it gave us a respite from Jean-Luc Picard sniffing his own farts. And also gave us time to piss about in the gift shop.
Once back on the bus, the talking continued. Luckily, it didn’t take long until we tuned it out. Not only that, but the views starting becoming incredible. Now because I am an awful travel blogger, I cannot actually tell you where these cloud-coated mountains are, nor can I tell you what the name of this spot is, all I know is that it’s somewhere between Te Anau and Milford Sound. For me, it is the clouds that make this spot, there’s something mysterious and eerie about low-hanging clouds that brings my mind back to foggy moors in the UK. It has an almost enchanted appeal to it. I felt like if I walked into the haze I’d find myself in somewhere far-away and fantastical like Narnia or Scunthorpe.
The next place we stopped over was Amateur Instagram Photographer HQ, also known as Mirror Lakes. Seriously, taking pictures here is cheating. All of the Instagram likes I got for this photo aren’t allowed to be counted in my social media street cred because it’s far too easy. I love these places, the only downside is that it was only a brief stopover and everyone was so desperate to get a snap that it was hard to absorb the truly gorgeous details of this little walk. The green and yellow of the reeds, the ripples in the reflective water and the contrast of the fern-green covered mountains giving a canvass for the lighter colours was the real attraction. I’d have loved a little more time for pensive introspection, but I can’t be a pretentious twat every second of the day now can I?
We then stopped over at another place with snow-tipped mountains. This was particularly special because of how close we were to Milford Sound and shows just how deep into the Fjordlands we were, as we stood and took pictures by the stream, we were physically surrounded by mountains in the narrowest of valleys. They were so close that their size wasn’t even fathomable and the rock faces actually looked relatively climbable.
Then we got to the main event; Milford Sound in all its glory. When Thierry Dubois parked the bus, we were instantly treated to a sight unlike any in the southern hemisphere. These ghostly mountains combine in an awe-inspiring optical illusion of shadows and clouds as the vast depths of water invite you into the mist. Although the water looks still and calm, the depth of the fjord reaches 500m at its deepest point, with an average depth of 330m all around. This means that a vast array of wildlife is found including dolphins, penguins and seals.
The natural wonders don’t end there either, Milford Sound is home to two permanent waterfalls and if it rains, then you will also be treated to many more. I counted at least five when I was there, mainly because we were lucky enough to have rain on the day and the night before. This is also the reason why I look like I’m about to enter a rap battle in most of my pictures here.
It was a special experience here, and what made it even more so was the skillful captain steering us close enough to get snaps of seals chilling casually on some rocks and even getting us underneath a waterfall so he could watch idiot tourists break their phones trying to get a picture. Seriously, what kind of idiot would risk their….oh wait.
It was a day with a lot to take in, and the drive back featured less stopovers and more relaxing as Jean Claude Van Drone finally decided to zip it for the rest of the journey. It was a truly serene experience within the fjord and a day I will never forget. The views were spectacular, and being able to enjoy it with some fantastic people made it even more perfect.
It was with these same wonderful people that I also enjoyed a cracking night out with when we returned to Queenstown. From a group flash-mob performance of Golddigger outside Cowboys, to riding the mechanical bull and then finishing it off with a dance-off in some random nightclub I, once again, can’t remember the name of. It was a snapchat story masterclass. Also, shoutout to Kelsey for not only taking some epic snaps of me standing next to cool shit, but also for being able to handle as much booze as a fifty-year-old plumber from Glasgow. Top lass. Another shoutout to the Americans who knew every single word to Golddigger and let me be their hype man for the confused passers-by. You the real MVP.
That was a long blog. Much longer than usual. I hope you’re still with me and I haven’t bored you all to tears. If you have read this far, then I love you and you’re the reason why I keep writing these blogs. I will update once more tomorrow and talk to you all about Day 2 in Queenstown, which only meant one thing- BUNGY JUMPING. I was so keen before and after this (as those on FB will know), so be prepared to hear all about it again as I try and describe the feeling of falling to my death.
Thanks for reading!
Au Revoir, mon frère