My jaw dropped. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Waterfalls, upon waterfalls, upon waterfalls. In pidgin I would say, “You seen da waterfalls? Da buggah is unrealz!” Milford sound was one of the most stunning places that I have ever visited.
We began our trip to Milford Sound in Queenstown where we woke (actually, Surina woke because I decided to sleep in) to an ono (delicious/good) sunrise.
We decided to go with an ActionPod, which is basically a converted van, because it allowed us the ability to Freedom Camp–the ability to camp anywhere Freedom Camping is permitted. We really loved our Toyota ActionPod because it was the size of a minivan–which made it easy to drive, had a fold-out double bed, and came stocked with a mini-fridge, cookware, and a double burner camping stove. One feature that was especially handy was the fact that the trunk door doubled as shelter from the rain, which was essential because it rained almost everyday on our trip to the South Island.
The drive from Queenstown to Milford Sound takes about four hours, but I suggest that you take your time. Stop to smell the roses. Cruise ‘um and enjoy the ʻāina (the land).
It had rained consistently throughout our journey to Milford Sound and we had initially thought that the weather had rained on our parade. We were wrong. We didn’t realize that scattered showers meant that we would be blessed with a trip that consisted of hundreds of waterfalls. I had never, in my life, seen so many waterfalls. I’m lucky that I live in Hawaii, and get to see waterfalls quite often, but driving through the Cleddau Valley to Milford Sound was unreal.
I think that we smelled a bit too many roses because we didn’t get to our campsite until dark. Please note that Freedom Camping is not allowed anywhere from Te Anau to Milford Sound. The New Zealand government is pretty strict about this rule in the area due to the high number of tourists, and you could face a hefty fine if you are caught Freedom Camping. There are plenty of government run campsites, which can be found on the DOC website. We stayed at Cascade Creek Campsite, which is the closest (45 minutes) DOC campsite to Milford Sound, and it cost $13/person to camp. The camp has toilets and kitchen facilities for anyone not traveling in a caravan.
We got up before the sun came up, so that we could get to Milford Sound in time for sunrise. The sound was socked in, so we weren’t able to see the sunrise, but arriving early for our cruise allowed us time to explore some of the walking trails in the area before our cruise began
It was low tide that morning, so we were able to venture out into the sound to get a closer look at Lady Elizabeth Bowen Falls, skip some rocks, and take a few pictures together
After playing in the Sound, we had a quick and hot breakfast, which we cooked in the back of our ActionPod, before heading out to our cruise. We decided to go with Mitre Peak Cruises because they had a smaller boat and got closer to the waterfalls than the larger boats. Now, when they say closer, they really mean that they get into the falls, literally. Like fo realz not fo fake. I couldn’t believe that they drove the boat right into the falls. I mean, I not complaining or anything, because I felt like one keiki (little kid) again when they did. My smile was so big and I was giggling and laughing choke (a lot).
Visiting Milford Sound was one of the most memorable experiences that I ever had, and was one of the top highlights, along with the Nevis Swing, on our trip to New Zealand. So, if you ever decide to take a trip to Middle Earth aka New Zealand be sure to include Milford Sound. Da buggah is unrealz.