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open mind, empty stomach

travel, food, and fun

Where is the most beautiful place in the world? I’m not a fan of superlatives, but I’ve certainly been to a few contenders. Milford Sound ranks right up there with the best of them. Technically, it’s not a sound at all, but a fiord, formed by glacial movement over several ice ages. There are a variety of options to take in this natural wonder in the world, including a variety of hikes, kayaking, cruises, and flights. The time of the year eliminated walks from my list of possibilities and flights are way out of my budget range. Although I swore off organized tours after Daintree, I ended up booking a Milford Sound day trip through Jucy Travel.

This was a much different experience than I had out of Cairns. Getting from Queenstown to Milford Sound takes about 4 hours each way, so transport accounts for a large part of the day. Fortunately, you drive through incredibly beautiful country. Once in the Fiordlands National Park, we made several stops to (briefly) take in the scenery and snap a few photos. My favorite stop was definitely Mirror Ponds. We also stopped at a big plain that is used to shoot battle scenes in Lord of The Rings and Hobbit films, at a stream that had some amazingly pure and delicious water, and a few other sites with views of mountains.

Just about every cruise company offers a 1 hour 45 minute tour around the Sound and stops at the same places. The weather was absolutely perfect without a cloud in the sky, but Milford Sound is just as beautiful in the pouring rain when thousands of waterfalls adorn the steep cliffs. I positioned myself on the front of the top deck and throughly enjoyed the cruise. In addition to some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever witnessed, I also got to see a multitude of seabirds, several young male fur seals, and even a penguin! Penguin breeding season hasn’t quite started, so we were very lucky to get to see one.

The tour cost $119NZD and was worth every penny. I was picked up from my accommodation at 7:45 am and dropped back off at 8:15 pm. The driver/guide, Ian, was terrific and highly knowledgable. I was extremely pleased with the entire experience and highly recommend getting to Milford Sound if you’re in the bottom of the South Island. I look forward to coming back in a different season and doing some of the breathtaking walks in Fiordlands National Park.

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