Aka BBQ bus trip to Milford Sound where we decided to forgo the 4 hour drive back in favour of the flight in a propeller plane! Read on to find out more…
BBQ bus trip
We booked this as the BBQ bus trip came highly recommended on trip advisor. They picked us up near our Air bnb on the Frankton Road and off we went with Marty our driver and guide (and it turns out the owner too!).
The drive took us up (? I think this was the right direction!) the Devil’s staircase – the famous road that leads around the side of lake Wakatipu towards the Fiordland area. It was named this due to the dangerous twists and turns that claimed many a life since it was used. Even today Marty was quick to point out that driving in New Zealand needs a lot of consideration and care.
Next stop was the plains of Fiordland National Park. Apparently if you come here at the right time of year you can walk amongst thigh high lupins – very pretty! But as we were there in Autumn I had to make do with epic jump shots!
We also had a brief stop at the Mirror Lakes. These are so called as they provide a perfect reflection of the mountains behind – in the right conditions… Unfortunately for us it was too windy to get the best reflections 🙁 Here are my best pics:
We stopped at a camp site for our BBQ lunch. Marty had knocked up chicken and marinated lamb kebabs, salad and drinks (soft!) and we ate in the spectacular scenery.
Marty was super eager to show us his ‘office’ aka Fiordlands national park and we had already lost mobile signal – so he must be the only person without a phone in his office!!
Before we drove through Homer tunnel that connects Milford Sound to the outside world, we stopped to appreciate the landscape carved by the glaciers:
And when through the tunnel – it’s pretty similar on the other side:
Milford Sound cruise
When you get to Milford Sound the BBQ bus includes the cruise up Milford Sound. You board a smaller boat (there are some very large cruise boats that do the coach trips, as we were on a small bus we fit on a smaller boat with a load more people!)
The captain tells you about the Sound (actually misnamed – it’s a fiord as it was formed by glaciers) as you sail towards the sea.
The main focus of the cruise is the waterfalls scattered around. We were lucky with the weather as it wasn’t raining – but usually people get to see way more waterfalls as only two of them are permanent. The rest of the waterfalls are temporary from the rain coming off the rocks.
As we had missed out glacier flight on the West Coast drive (bad weather meant no flights), I was very open to the suggestion of flying out! When we learnt it was less money than the glacier flight and would reduce our travel time back to Queenstown by c3 hours we were all over it! (Ok it’s still expensive at NZD 395, but we were very lucky with the weather and it was a once in a lifetime experience).
The plane was totally worth it for the views out of the window. We flew over the mountains, glaciers and lakes. Spectacular!
Let me know if you have visited or are planning to visit Milford Sound in the comments below.