Wake up at 7am.
Check-in at 8:10am at ‘RealJourneys’ (across the road) for an 8:30am departure to our overnight cruise on Milford Sound. Milford Sound is a fjord in the southwest of the South Island. It’s known for towering Mitre Peak, plus rainforests and waterfalls.
We stop en route in Te Anau where we eat our sandwiches for lunch. Weather is quite chilly but no rain (yet). The weather forecast is bad for these 2 days, which is quite usual for Milford Sound, which is one of the wettest places in NZ. The annual precipitations are between 7 and 9 metres of water annually.
The road from Te Anau to Milford Sound is nice.
We arrive in Milford Sound around 3:45pm.
The departure of our boat (Milford Mariner) is at 4:30pm. Our cabins are nice, with private bathrooms.
Luxuriant rainforest clings to sheer rock walls washed with tall waterfalls which plummet down the sheer sides of the mountains. Our boat goes close by. In the foreground stands Mitre Peak, dominating the very cloudyskyline.
Milford Sound is often called the 8th wonder of the world. But under this weather (grey sky) it’s a bit disappointing.
The boat anchors in the sheltered Harrison Cove for the night.
The organized afternoon activities include exploring the shoreline by kayak or by small boat.
Isabelle and Jules choose kayak (but Jules didn’t really enjoy, to say the least…) while I go with the girls in the small boat. We see fur seals.
Back in the boat, Ludivine jumps in the water.
The dinner buffet is rather good (French cook).
A seal comes and rests on the back of the boat.
After diner, a naturalist does a 30′ presentation of Milford Sound, both entertaining and educative.
We all sleep by 10pm.
Wake up at 6:30am for a breakfast at 6:45am.
We depart at 7:30am.
We cruise the full length of the fjord to the open sea. Weather is grey but without much rain. It’s frustrating because this is apparently the worst weather to visit Milford Sound: grey, cloudy and no sun -> no great views + no heavy rain -> the cliffs are not covered by a wall of waterfalls, which can be impressive (as per the pictures I’ve seen). It’s a pity because it takes time to come up to here (2 days) and the overnight cruise is expensive.
On our way back, we see dolphins.
We come back ashore around 9:15am.
I’m not convinced the overnight cruise was the best option. It can of course be a great way to experience the fiord at its most peaceful – in the evening and first thing in the morning, before the day trippers arrive. But because of the weather it was not as magical as I expected.
Our (comfortable) bus back to Queenstown leaves immediately.
We stop for lunch (sandwiches) in Te Anau, like yesterday.
The trip back is very nice, under the sun. It changes everything.
We arrive in Queenstown at 3pm.
The kids do 2 homeschooling sessions. I work on the blog.
Around 7pm, I go and take away pizzas; they are huge.