Casey and I were loving Queenstown. We hit the city during the Winter Festival and a lot was happening! But it was soon off to the next adventure, and we wanted to get away for the hustle of the city and back into nature.
We hopped on a bus that took us first to Te Anau. The Kepler Track is located here, and we hiked a small section of it. It would have been awesome to hike the whole thing, but we were there in the winter season, which is not an optimal time of year for that hike.
From Te Anau, we hopped on a bus for a day trip to Milford Sounds. This was done with a tour company. They would take us out to the harbor and included the boat tour of the sounds, and the trip back to Te Anau.
There were a couple stops we made on the way out.
Mirror Lakes was a nice stop. I enjoyed walking the short trail looking over the lakes.
The weather felt a bit dreary at first. There was an occasional mist of rain, and we weren’t sure how that would affect the feel of Milford Sounds. We were prepared for it though, and had our rain coats, as we also heard the boats would get close to the waterfalls.
The bus followed the winding road up and through the mountains. Our bus driver was very informative, and told us many tales of the land she took us through. I especially enjoyed a Maori story of Maui and Piopiotahi.
At one stop, we got out and took some pretty pictures with the mountain snowtops in the background. It’s here that we also saw our first wild Kia (tearing apart our bus!).
Once we finally made it to the harbor, it did not take long for us all to get on board the boat. It did not feel too crowded, and I appreciated that. There was a beautiful mist hovering in the mountains of the sounds. Giving it a mystical feel.
The boat captain informed us of history and sights as he cruised around Milford Sounds. Casey and I shifted from inside the boat to outside on the deck. We were free to move around as we pleased, which was wonderful since it was a bit chilly outside the boat at times.
The boat was taken right up to many of the waterfalls. I am sure on warmer days the mist of the falls is welcomed; however, it was a bit chilly being exposed on the deck at times to the cascading mist. There was an event where the tip of the boat was taken right up into the waterfall, and the deck pooled with water. The force from the gusting mist had me caught on the deck, desperately trying to pull the heavy door open with no luck. My husband, Casey, stood on the other side of the glass just looking at me… holding the beers he had gone to get for us. Looking back this is quite comical, but I was wet for the rest of the cruise.
The weather kept shifting from cloudy to sunny. Giving us multiple perspectives and feelings as we cruised along. Though one feeling remained: humble. I cannot accurately put into words why this one particular word, but let me try.
The vastness and size of the sound and mountains was engulfing. I could not help but feel small in comparison, which bled into my whole existence feeling so slight. Knowing I have only traveled a small portion of the world, and to be so lucky to set my eyes on the beauty of Milford Sounds in my lifetime was remarkable, and humbling to be allowed the experience.
The pictures I share here will never do it justice. They could never convey the feelings gained from simply standing and viewing such a place.
For the tour, the boat cruises out to the ocean, where the waves cause the boat to rock a bit more. Enough to feel it in my stomach. The captain let us linger here a bit, to look out at the vastness of the ocean. Then turned around and made our way back down the other side of Milford Sounds. We were able to see fur seals basking on some rocks to enjoy the modest sunshine.
There was one location the captain of the boat made mention of on our way back that as intriguing. There is only one other place in the world (Patagonia) where you can see the same type of scenery. This place included sub-tropical rain-forest, fresh water/waterfalls, glacier, salt water, and mountains all in one!
As the cruise came to a close, the boat hit one last big waterfall. Casey and I decided to stand on the front, lower deck to view it. The water cascaded onto the deck and the mist showered us. We laughed and fully enjoyed it, knowing this was the last time we could experience it.
The last few waterfalls were stunning, and the overall tour was stellar! I was happy with our trip. The bus ride back was quite, which was perfect for reflecting on the experience and new feelings. Leaving Milford Sounds, I was a bit different than when I arrived. All for the better.
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