We were told that a visit to Fiordland is a must-do for our time in NZ. Seeing as we were somewhat in the neighbourhood, we followed the travel advice we were given, and made a visit to this region located on the South Island’s South-West corner.
The region of Fiordland is characterized by the steep slopes of the Southern Alps as well as a number of fiords and sounds.
A fiord is essentially a trench carved by moving glaciers and then filled by the sea, whereas a sound is a river valley that has been flooded by the sea. Being that Milford Sound is actually a fiord, it is therefore deemed to be incorrectly named.
We stayed in the town of Te Anau, the closest urban centre to the well-known destination of Milford Sound. Te Anau had an interesting assortment of eating establishments: Precisely 4 Italian restaurants, two Chinese food restaurants, a dairy which served takeaways (fish & chips), and a famous pie shop.
But the view of the snow-capped Southern Alps from our room was quite lovely.
The scenic drive from Te Anau to Milford Sound took approximately an hour and a half. The melting snow on the mountaintops above us created breathtaking waterfalls for us to enjoy along the drive.
An interesting aspect of the drive was the portion that required you to drive downhill, through a mountain (via a tunnel). It was hard to describe, but nonetheless a unique experience.
Stopping off at one of the scenic lookouts, we met our first kea, one of NZ’s protected, Native birds. This kea was particularly friendly, and came right up close to our vehicle. Should we have held the car door open, I’m sure he might have well jumped inside. We figured this winged creature must be used to being fed by tourists in vehicles.
We capitalized on an awesome deal on GrabOne, and booked ourselves on a 90 minute Jucy cruise through Milford Sound. The mood of the Sound was peaceful and grand.
The waterfalls pouring down the sides of mountains as the ice caps melted were particularly majestic.
We were even lucky enough to see a pod of dolphins at the mouth of the fiord. A worker on board the boat said there hadn’t been any dolphin sightings for the last 3 weeks, so I guess we lucked out.
The region of Fiordland was beautiful and majestic in a way that reminded us of the Alberta Rockies, but jammed into the sea. Thanks, Fiordland, for both a magical time and a bit of a reminder of what we have awaiting us at home.