I had read about it, seen pictures and dreamed one day of being there. It was why I wanted to go to New Zealand. And now that day had come and I really was at Milford Sound.
Rudyard Kipling described this fjord in South Island’s Fiordland as the eighth wonder of the world. This place certainly has the wow factor. It is everything you imagine New Zealand to be.
Its name is deceptive because it is not a sound but a fjord carved out by glacial activity. This is wilderness at its best.
Lush rainforests hugging mountains that seem to scrape the sky, roaring waterfalls cascading down cliffs that rise out of the water. Dolphins coming out to play only served to enhance what was already a sensational day.
The Bowen Falls, the highest of the numerous water wonders, thundered loudly. The fabled Mitre Peak was just as imposing as I imagined. Words fail to describe this spectacle that slowly passed before my eyes on my two-hour cruise along the fjord out to the Tasman Sea and back.
That was not my only dose of beauty for the day. Leaving the calm waters of Lake Te Anau and the eponymous town, where we had spent the night behind us, we headed along the road to Milford Sound. I cannot remember ever being on a road that threw up so many gems.
Passing along the Eglinton Valley, once filled with glacier ice, with its steep rocky sides and a flat golden bottom, we hit upon the Mirror Lakes. It was a beautiful clear day so we could see a reflection of the Earl Mountains. The Avenue of the Disappearing Mountain had us all astounded. An optical illusion makes the mountain in front of you become smaller rather than bigger.
After passing through the Homer Tunnel, which took almost 20 years to create, we stopped at the Chasm for a 20-minute walk into the rainforest. The stunning series of waterfalls, where the Cleddau River has purged a path through solid rock down the mountain, has over thousands of years left sculpted shapes in its mist.
If I thought that there could be no more wonderful surprises that day, I was wrong. As we arrived at Queenstown, overlooking the mystical Lake Wakatipu, it looked like tomorrow was going to be another glorious day in New Zealand.
By Daralyn Danns
Which city you fly into in New Zealand will depend on where your tour starts from and therefore, which airline you choose. Highly recommended are Cathay Pacific cathaypacific.com and qantas.com The service and inflight experience is spot on. Ensure that the flight you book is operated by the company and not just code-sharing
The tour was part of the Grand Pacific Ultimate Small Group Tours which I booked through Trailfinders (trailfinders.com) as I did the flights
The advantage of travelling aboard the Ultimate Coach is that instead of carrying the normal 48 passengers, it only carries 20. You sit in comfort in leather fully-reclining seats so no neck ache at the end of a long day. (Distances are vast in New Zealand.) There is plenty of personal storage. It is much easier being in a small group, no hanging around waiting for people, no long queues for the loos, overall much cosier