Fiordland National Park
We leave Queenstown towards the small town of Te Anau and its large lake, which mark the entrance to Fiordland National Park in direction of Mildford sounds. The road first part will reveal the southern end of Wakatipu Lake before getting lost in the pastures, revealing nothing very remarkable until Te Anau.
It’s in Te Anau that we will make a stop in order to make the necessary refuelings before committing to the Mildford sound road. The weather didn’t allow us to appreciate the small community and its lake at its fair value, but we still made a visit to the Wildlife Center. A small park which gathers some native birds. A nice idea and a good excuse to intersect with some species that we had not met yet.
On the road
The road from Te Anau to Mildford is, to say the least, a pleasant one, as long as you are engaged on it early enough to avoid the tourist buses which stop, inevitably, on the interesting areas.
A minute stop for some photos, and a drone flight above this huge grassy plain surrounded by mountains. You can also take the time to walk barefoot and sit there, for a few moments, to taste the tranquility of the place and feel very small.
Our second stop will be at the level of small lakes, or rather ponds, well known for offering a perfect reflection of the mountains overhanging them. Of course, this observation can only be made under the conditions that the weather is splendid, so the clouds don’t hide the mountains, that the little ducks and other birds are not dabbling at that moment, and that there is a complete absence of wind, breeze or blowing. We believe in it !
A pretty lake surrounded by an almost enchanted forest, a deep green and covered with moss, the sounds are sifted and the birds numerous. The walk is not long and it’s rather charming. The last DOC campsite before Mildford is at this location, so we had a nice night at the edge of the trees.
A hike that climbs to the top of a mountain and allows to enjoy a view of the surrounding relief. Beautiful landscapes of peaks and mountains that are reflected in the small ponds hidden in the foamy vegetation.
A walk of 3 hours which is worth a look for who appreciates the hilly environment of this region.
Ice & Waterfalls
Several points of view are proposed all along the road, so I will not mention them all. On the other hand, I will talk about the, almost obligatory, stop at the tunnel entrance. A point surrounded by mountains covered with ice and waterfalls. Once again we feel very small here. The lucky ones will be able to encounter the Keas, the New Zealand mountains parrots who love to chew on all kinds of materials including the plastic from tires and bumpers, by the way !
Before finally reaching Mildford Sound, a setted walk offers, again, a nice discovery. Between the waterfall and its powerful river, the rocks have been artistically and naturally carved in soft and graceful artworks. The water has then perfectly shaped the rock all in curves and cavities dug by time. A nice stop for an original and splendid natural discovery.
We finally arrive at the ultimate goal of this beautiful road, the village of Mildford Sound. Here, there is only the embarrassment of the choice in the discovery of these flooded mountains, by kayak, helicopter or boat it’s up to you to see which offer will suit you the best. We will choose Jucy company at the first offered time departure to avoid the people, and with the basic offer.
For 45$* per person we leave for 2 hours of the fiords discovery by boat and breakfast is offered.
From there, there is nothing to do but appreciate the scenery, waterfalls and wildlife around you enjoying the informative comments of your captain. A relaxing and beautiful moment, obviously a must !
After our lovely fiord’s cruise in Mildford Sound, it was only natural that we headed back to Te Anau. However it’s on the Manapouri lake beach, that it’s also possible to discover in cruise or kayak, that we decided to spend the rest of the day. A peaceful place to swim, fish, sunbathe and relax.
Still a very beautiful part of this country that we have been able to discover, the cold and majestic fiordlands are also imposing themselves as an absolute must of the South Island. Our only desire after this cruise is to simply redo it but, this time, in winter to enjoy the snowy scenery. The Southern New Zealand is definitely worth the return at the cold season to take a fresh look on this wonderful environment.