Having never been to South Island before, I decided to spend a short weekend in Queenstown including a cruise in Milford Sound. This is a Fjord located in the Fiordland Nature Park.
Cruise in Milford Sound
Tour from Queenstown
As I don’t have a campervan in the South Island (yes because I just bought a campervan!) I chose to go through a tour operator from Queenstown. You will find several going to Milford Sound at a reduced price on Book me. I chose the one from Southern Discoveries that I got at $149. The departure is at 7am to arrive at the cruise departure around 1pm.
The bus tour stops several times to admire waterfalls as well as other nice places. We have a little break in Te Anau for breakfast! Weather a bit rainy and cloudy for this day so the photos are not all splendid but it adds a side a bit mystical (including the mirror lake). You will also meet a lot of Kea (a local parrot) rather very curious and friendly with cars.
It was the first time I went to a Fjord, I dreamed about it! By cons if you wanted to avoid mass tourism, it’s missed! It’s funny besides I rarely see that much in other tourist places of NZ (at least in North Island) but the Milford Sound is famous for that. Start cruising with a lunch (if you chose the option) observing the first waterfalls. The boat that I had taken approached besides very close to the cascades, soaking guaranteed if you stay outside!!
So I went on this cruise in April, early fall. It was cold! The sun playing hide and seek could not warm us enough. So I did not stay outside as I usually do on a boat. Some time at warm place (and especially sheltered from the wind) were necessary!
During this cruise, in addition to the beautiful landscapes and waterfalls we could also observe :
– a sea lion
– a complete rainbow
These observations depend on the day when we go of course!
Arrival in the city
I arrived on Friday night at Queenstown by plane. Once at the airport a bus (number 1) will take you to the center of Queenstown for $10. If you plan to stay several days and travel by bus, take a top up card that will cost you less! I had a bed in the Base Backpackers. The heating worked very well but in my area it was a bit difficult to find a shower working properly. It’s in one of the main streets and not far from the departure for the Milford Sound. Be careful, the city is often full! Book in advance otherwise you’ll be left high and dry.
The botanical garden
Sunday morning, after a breakfast at Starbucks, I headed for the botanical garden. I took the path that runs along Wakatipu Lake which I loved the color !! Despite the sun I still had my winter coat, a scarf, gloves and a woolly hat … The total! I went back through the rose garden which was still very well flowered!
I then went to a massage center to relax for 1:30 (also booked on bookme). Given my fatigue of the moment I felt that I really needed!
There is a prerequisite in Queenstown, the Fergburger. It is located in Shotover Street, with the long queue you can’t miss it !! I took the basics personally and was able to find myself a small place on the outdoor benches (at this time the sun was heating even enough to put off the coat). Honestly the burger is good but when you are French and you are used to good beef it is nothing exceptional! At this moment, “my” Coltrane bar missed me even more 😉. I also tried their ice cream not bad (ok when you are in NZ must learn not to be finicky!)
I then went for a ride on the heights of Queenstown taking the Skyline. It’s a cable car that takes directly to the top. Note that for the bravest we can also go on foot! Round trip costs $39 (yes it is not cheap).
Once at the top you can go for a walk in the forest or take a sledge ride in a circuit (without snow). Moreover, there are packages to take down so that it costs less. You can also go mountain biking, the company that deals with it is also down.
The way back
After staying on the shores of the lake to admire the sunset (and take some pictures in long exposure) I went back to the airport. Transport level it was a little weekend disaster (I had already had problems to go). After a little delay I returned to Auckland. Attention, the domestic airport closes at 23:30 and there is no skybus after 10:30 pm except if you request on (don’t know how to request) so I took an Uber).
The Uber’s driver has been delighted to make detours … So instead of the $42 announced at the start the final fare is announced at $73! We see very well the detours on the map so I immediately brought claim. And I had the good surprise to see that it was taken into account automatically (no need to fight). They take into account the average price (here $38) to reevaluate the stroke of the race and you are refunded a few days later the difference.
The roads of the South Island are really beautiful! I would love to come back to Queenstown too! Having a busy program I couldn’t really enjoy the nightlife but it looks very nice too :). I look forward to discover other facets of this beautiful island!