Milford Sound is a place that really needs no introduction. Located in the Fiordland National Park on the South West of New Zealand’s South Island, this slice of pre-historic paradise is raw, dramatic, captivating and remote. After almost two years since my last visit, I was recently reminded why this is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.
One of the best things about Milford is the drive into Fiordland but admittedly, that’s one thing that puts many people off.
A minimum 2 hours from Te Anau and 4 hours from Queenstown, Milford is somewhat isolated. But if there was anywhere in the world that you had to spend some time on the road, this is it.
I must warn you that on this drive your brakes and neck will get a severe workout. After running a photography workshop here recently, I think we made at least 7 or so roadside pull overs before we reached Milford. And although this wasn’t my first time, I was still amped up like a kid in a candy store.
I really can’t find the right adjectives to justly describe the Fiordland landscape and the way it transforms as you delve deeper into the National Park.
Vast … almighty … powerful are words that come to mind yet don’t come close. The handful of hours you spend in the car feel like mere minutes as the relatlively normal landscape morphs into something out of a mythological tale. Monstrous granite towers rise into the sky, weeping with an innumerable number of waterfalls that plummet hundreds of meters to the earth. Vast open fields are lined with golden tussocks, surrounded by snow capped peaks that pierce the clouds. Bright green rivers wind through the valley and thick dense forests create tunnels that shade the road. It’s hard to drive the Milford road without being moved.
When you eventually make it to Milford Sound itself, you feel as if you’re high on a visual stimulation overload. Surely you can’t handle any more and then BAM! The iconic Mitre Peak floors you with its insanely recognisable charm.
Standing by the waters edge, there’s not much to be heard beside the call of native birds circling high above and the roar of distant waterfalls crashing down into the sea. Definitely one of the best ways to get a sense of the grand size of this place is by taking a cruise down through the sound. The guys at Southern Discoveries led us beneath waterfalls, alongside penguins, up close to seals and out to the Tasman sea.
The highlight for me though is hanging around for sunset when the sun sinks below the sea and the face of the valley turns gold. Overall Fiordland really sums up all that I love about New Zealand. Vast open spaces that have seemingly escaped the hands of time, making you feel grateful small in a constant sense of amazement and awe.
Thanks for reading. WP