In our eighth day of traveling, we visited Milford Sound which is a fiord in the south west of New Zealand’s South Island. It has been acclaimed as New Zealand’s most famous tourist destination.
The drive to Milford Sound is 307 km from Queenstown and 279 km from Invercargill (about four hours drive). We stopped first in Te Anau, the last touristic center before starting the way into the mountains and forests. Where we pass the night in a DOC Cascade Creek campsite.
The next morning we head straight to Milford Sound to get into our pre-booked cruise to this described by Rudyard Kipling as the “eighth wonder of the world”.
Milford Sound fiord runs 15 kilometers inland from the Tasman Sea at Dale Point (the mouth of the fiord) and is surrounded by sheer rock faces that rise 1,200 meters or more on each side.
Milford Sound has two permanent waterfalls, Lady Bowen Falls and Stirling Falls. After heavy rain temporary waterfalls can be seen running down the rocks.
On our way back to Queenstown we stopped at the most iconic lookouts nearby Milford sound, the first one was The Chasm, Mirror Lakes, and Gertrude Valley Lookout.
Bowen Falls was the first major waterfall that we encountered while visiting the famous Milford Sound. A majestic 161m waterfall said to be the tallest permanent waterfall in the fiord.
As you drive along the Milford Road and through the valley with its steep forest slopes to either side and the flat grassy plain at its base, you are traveling along a path carved out by ancient glaciers thousands of years ago.
The Chasm was really more of a nature walk than a water-falling experience because there really was a waterfall within the narrow potholed gorge. Not only was there a waterfall here, but there must have also been a natural bridge since the Cleddau River would disappear into the turbulent hole-like gorge only to re-emerge further downstream eventually emptying into the Milford Sound.
One of the must-see stops on the way to Milford Sound is the Mirror Lakes Viewpoint. The Mirror Lakes in the Eglinton Valley forms part of the largest system of inland waterways in New Zealand. Intact river systems like these are becoming increasingly rare on an international scale.
Wild parrot trying to steal our food
Gertrude Valley Lookout