The Misnomer that is Milford Sound…

Finally, Milford Sound!

Every little corner of New Zealand has been magical, but Milford Sound is literally another world.

There is only one road to and from Milford Sound (the 94) and the last real sign of civilization (where you can stock up on groceries before heading up) is in Te Anau. We stayed in Te Anau for the night between driving from Wanaka to Milford – we wanted to break up what would have been a 5 hour drive. Worth it, by the way. Te Anau is small and lovely as well as a good place to literally stock up because other than the view….there is nothing else in Milford.

Nothing.

Ok, so there’s a little wharf for the boat tours, an information center/cafe, one camp ground (meaning you have to REALLY book ahead of time)……and that’s it. There’s not even cell reception up there. Nothing.  If you want internet – 10 NZD for 100MB. I wish I was joking.

However, I was so entranced with the view that it didn’t bother me. I didn’t even want to look at my phone for fear of missing out on something amazing!

These photos were from the drive to Milford as well as when we first arrived. The drive itself is worth the trip!

As stated in the title, Milford Sound is a misnomer….as in Milford is not a Sound. But what does that MEAN?!?!!?

A sound is a valley created by a river while a fjord is created by glaciers. Milford was created by glaciers, which is why it is the famous sight-seeing spot of Fjordland National Park. Even though we know the truth, the name has stuck. I think Milford Sound rolls off the tongue better than Milford Fjord. Am I right?

There literally only two things you can do here in Milford: traveling through the fjord (either by boat or by kayak) or hiking through the Milford Track – a 53km/4 day trek through what is a temperate rainforest. T wanted to do both….

Ok, not the full Milford Track (obviously), we didn’t have time for that. But he hoped that there would be some kind of tour that would allow us to venture a little bit. The track is not somewhere that you can easily access. You have to take a boat or kayak to the starting point – thus you need a guide. Luckily, we found one.

We found a day tour that would let us kayak to the starting point along with a 6km hike around the track and back. It was perfect! It was also the day I learned how to kayak. I really liked it! T and I made a good team!

If you’re wondering the name of the tour group – I can’t remember. But there are only two…..so…..you got a 50/50 chance of getting our tour group. But we met the other ones while we were waiting and they were equally cool. So really, you can’t lose.

Our tour group was only about ten people + our guides. They were an absolute delight. We started out at Sandfly Point – the name was not meant to be cute. There were sandflies EVERYWHERE!!!!! It is verifiable proof that there is no such thing as paradise. Milford may be heaven but every itchy sandfly bite reminds you that you are still on earth. BLARGH!

We only walked about 6km in total before taking the kayak’s back – but what a view!

What I loved the most was the wildlife! Because of New Zealand’s aggressive conversationist attitude, these animals are not only NOT hunted – they are super chill around humans. Especially Wekas! They are the ones that look like Kiwis – they’re not. Kiwi’s are nocturnal and HUGE! We also got to see the Australian black swan – just lovely! Also the little Tomtit (the little bird with the black head and yellow/gray body)! Everything was lovely. If it weren’t for the sandflies, I would probably still be at Milford.

We also booked a boat tour for the next day – but this kayak trip was a wonderful surprise and we both highly recommend it.

The next day, we arrived at the wharf early to catch our boat around the fjord. After an adventure with the kayak – the boat was a little boring…..but the lumbering pace did allow for some breathtaking views and photographs!

There was more wildlife to be found on our trip. We saw fjordland-crested penguins, New Zealand fur seals, and even the tail of a humpback whale! The impressive sight was the penguins – usually they don’t come around that time of the year, but they were early and they were many!

The photos really don’t do it justice. You don’t realize how small you are in the grand scheme of things until you are literally in the middle of the fjord. You saw the photo of the other ship in the fjord….how small it was? Check out this one with the kayakers:

Find the kayakers for scale….I’ll give you a hint: they’re in yellow at the bottom left….

The only thing we didn’t get to see were the dolphins…T and I were disappointed. But we got to see those rare penguins and after Akaroa, we were happy with what came to visit that day.

This tour also had a visit to their underwater discovery center as well as a little kayaking, but we had been spoiled by our adventure the day before. It was ok and I still enjoy kayaking, and we saw more penguins up close! But we missed our guides from the day before.

At one point, our boat also took us to Stirling Falls where we could experience what they affectionately call a Glacial Facial….literally we got water dumped on us….

We took a few videos of our kayaking adventures in Milford….but those aren’t ready yet. I am sure I will come up with another post in the future just to show those off…but I figured the 41 photos I posted today would be enough. Right? Does it make you want to go to Milford? It makes me definitely want to go back.

All in all, Milford is a dream. You would be missing a gem of an opportunity if you don’t go – even though there are sandflies.

What about you who have been? What did you think? Did you guys love it as much as us?

Hope you enjoyed today’s post – I enjoyed writing it.

Bis nächste Woche!

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