Another very early morning
Traveling with a toddler often means going to bed very early which isn’t as bad as it sounds since you get to experience the freshness of an early morning (again not as bad as it sounds) and you allow yourself plenty of time for a long day ahead. What we certainly loved about our trip to the Southern Island so far was the variety offered by each day. Each day looked completely different from the other (scenery, weather, mood, adventures wise).
Starting in Te Anau
This day we were going to see what is considered to be one of the main highlights of the Southern Island-the UNESCO listed Fiordland National Park Milford Sound. The reason we choose to stay in Te Anau was to be as close as possible to Milford Sound. When preparing for our trip we arrived at the conclusion that it is almost impossible to find accommodation in Milford Sound. There are a few options but you certainly need to book way in advance. We started booking our accommodation about a month before the trip. The closest ( about 2 hours drive) place to Milford Sound is Te Anau. Also, once in Milford Sound there is no other road but the same one through Te Anau, so you will need to drive back to Te Anau before heading anywhere else.
Our ambitious plan for the day was to drive to Milford Sound (about 2 hours), take a cruise on Milford Sound (also about 2 hours) and then drive to Queenstown (about 4 hours) which was our base for the coming 3 nights. Yes, that does sound crazy. The reason we came up with it is that there really is no plausible alternative if you only have limited time available on the Southern Island. After reading and seeing many blogs from other travelers doing even crazier schedules, we slowly yet reluctantly started to embrace this crazy itinerary. In hindsight, as hard as this plan looks with a toddler, it was quite manageable and very enjoyable.
Through a cloud
The drive to Milford Sound is pure magic. It started out with a breathtaking foggy mountain scenery. It felt like driving through a cloud with bits of the morning sunshine. There was hardly anyone on the road at that time.
Fields of Gold
It then continued with the perfect visualization of Sting’s Field of Gold, one of my favorite songs. Huge fields of gold surrounded by mountains, an image in perfect harmony with this song. One of the most beautiful sceneries I have ever seen. We gave ourselves some time there, run around, chased our toddler, at times shorter than the grass. I already thought I was lucky enough to have to drive the same way back.
We’ve also made a few other short stops among which one of our favorite was the Mirror Lake which perfectly reflects the nearby mountains.
We booked a few days before the cruise with Mitre Peak, a great choice since the boats are smaller and not as crowded as it usually can get when visiting Milford Sound. A good tip if you are embarking on such a cruise is to bring extra clothes with your since it gets really cold.
The cruise was lovely, we were initially afraid that our son’s patience will soon be over however, he had enough space to move around and like most of the kids he loved being on a boat. The scenery is just beautiful, many stunning waterfalls, penguins and fur seals basking on the rocks.
On the way to Queenstown
On the way back, we spotted the Kea bird, a large species of parrot found in the alpine zone of the Southern Island, stopped again in our favourite field of gold, encountered a few small, beautiful turquoise waterfalls and arrived late in the night to Queenstown. We’ve been blessed with another full, perfect day in this land of magic.