After we finished the beautiful Kepler track, we headed towards Milford sound – the only sound in Fiordland accessible by car. It was a rainy day, and the weather forecast didn’t seem to be very promising for the upcoming days, so we decided to take it easy and wait for the rain to cease.
From Te Anau, it is a 2h drive to Milford sound, and we stopped somewhere in the middle in a nice campground to spend the night. The rain didn’t seem to want to stop anytime soon, and we had to spend two uncomfortable days in a very humid environment. Finally, a slightly blue color appeared in the sky, and we were ready to continue, but when we sat in the van to head off, the engine wouldn’t start. We tried again and again, unfortunately without any luck. We thought the reason could be the moisture accumulated in the machine, so we waited for an hour to give it another try, all in vain. There was no phone reception where we were staying, so we asked a nice elder couple that was looking for the camp for help. The older gentleman offered us a ride to the nearest pay phone to call road assistance. They arrived after about an hour and a half, and we got towed back to Te Anau. Let’s not talk about how much it cost to get back there only to realize that the problem was, in fact, the dampness in the engine, and once we were back in Te Anau, the car magically started working. The mechanic couldn’t tell us exactly which part of the engine needed reparation, but was suspecting that the spark plugs were old as hell and needed to be replaced. However, our house on wheels is already an old lady, and the mechanic told us he wouldn’t bother fixing it, as the reparation would cost us at least 400 NZD. Instead, we decided to join the AA road service in case we needed to be towed away again at some point.
After all this inconvenience, we were finally ready to visit one of the most popular destinations in the South Island: the Milford Sound.
The weather was still not at its best, but much better than the previous days. We had to drive up on the same road as a couple of days before when we got stuck in the campground, but this time, we really enjoyed the ride; the visibility was much better, and the misty clouds, wrapped around the mountains, made the whole ride even more magical. The closer we got to the Milford Sound, the more beautiful the landscape was. Finally, we reached the final point, parked our car and got ready for another exploration.
There are two ways to discover Milford Sound: you can do it either with kayaks, or you can book a cruise with one of the countless companies, offering different kinds of packages. Cruising the Milford sound is way cheaper than kayaking, and also much more comfortable. The good thing is that you can do a cruise also when the weather is bad while kayaking trips are usually canceled when raining.
We booked a two-hour cruise with Go Orange, with no regrets. The trip was absolutely stunning, taking us all the way up to the open Tasman Sea and back to the port. Despite the clouds and some rain showers, the landscape we saw was still way above our expectations: seeing the massive fjords with steep walls and countless waterfalls was really a unique experience.
Paying for a cruise is not the cheapest option to visit Milford Sound, but it’s definitely well worth it. Only by visiting it with a boat can one experience the real and raw nature of this outstanding natural phenomenon.