After a quick stay, yet memorable, at Queenstown, we went ahead to Milford Sound. We departed early in the morning to catch the afternoon cruise at Milford Sound. The distance between Queenstown and Milford sound is approximately 286 KM. It was estimated that we would be there by at least 5-hours drive by car. The scenery along from Queenstown to Milford Sound is very beautiful. Sturdy mountains and scattering lakes are the natural ornaments all along the route. In between the driving, we stopped by to the nearest city to the Milford Sound, Te Anau.
Te Anau was a small city where we booked a homestay for a night. We decided to stay at Te Anau because of limited accommodation choice at Milford Sound. Milford Sound is an option of a quick visit only and not for staying. Understandably, not many lodging options there. According to the Lonely Planet, there is only one available lodging. And surely it’s not an option for us. We had an issue once doing the check in at the homestay. I just knew when I arrived that the homestay did not accomodate children under 10. And it became a problem to us as we had to find another lodging. Te Anau is a very small city and we were afraid that we couldn’t find any available hotel, homestay or room to stay. Therefore, we hopped from one hotel to other hotels, one homestay to other homestays. Good luck was on our side. There was a vacant room in a modest-beautiful homestay run by a carpenter. So, we paid the rent fee at advance before continuing our driving to Te Anau.
According to Lonely Planet the scenery along the route to Milford Sound is the wildest, most magnifique, the most natural of all spots in the South Island, and probably in all over New Zealand. Been warned like that, we became very enthusiastic. While driving to Milford Sound, we opened the car windows and let the wind blew in. Fresh!! Once heading to Milford Sound from Te Anau, one by one, the wildest beauty that we’re told before were there before our eyes. Large havana, creeks, sturdy trees, beautiful valley, river flew across the street that we passed, and the most magnificent one was the the scenery of waterfalls. Not only one but a lot of waterfall. They flow down from the cliff along the road to Milford Sound. It’s very beautiful. The source of waterfall is from the snow toppling over the cliff. The snow melts and plunges down as waterfall. We stopped in one of photo shoot points. The chilling wind caught us right away when we stepped down from car. Rain made the weather even colder and wet.
Our road path to Milford Sound got descending as it was a river heading to the sea. Once got there, we exchanged the tickets in the counter. Days before, we bought ticket online in an cruise operator. My suggestion: buy the cruise ticket online because you will get the discounted price. There are a lot of cruise operators in Milford Sound and almost all sell the ticket via web. Simply google them to compare the best price. After waiting for several minutes, our cruise came from the previous trip. We boarded in a quite big cruise which would take us to enjoy the river. Rain kept pouring down all day. Understandably, it said recorded as one of the wettest area in the world. Sun was hardly seen. The scenery offered along the river was beautiful. Waterfalls fell down from the highest peak of the cliff. The fog made our journey mysterious. The chilling wind continued blowing and passengers who wanted to get warm can get into ship and make coffee and tea for free. The journey back and forth the river was approximately 90 minutes. Our camera shutter didn’t stop working as many breathtaking views to capture.
After enjoying Milford Sound, we stayed at Te Anau for a night. In the morning after that day we departed to Dunedin. It took about 4,5 hours drive to Dunedin from Te Anau. Dunedin is well know as City of Student where University of Otago located. It is one of the best universities in New Zealand. I knew why students prefer Dunedin to other cities. It is simply because it has a well-known university and friendly environment. It is a small city with complete supporting facilities. And everything is relatively cheap there. Our first destination at Dunedin was Cadbury Museum. Cadbury is undoubtedly known as popular chocolate brand. In Dunedin, they have established plant since 1800 and they have a long history. In the museum, we were accompanied by a very warm guide who comprehensively elaborated the history of Cadbury and its development since the very beginning to the current. Each of visitor got free chocolate and candy for free. Yumm!! Of course, we could also buy chocolate and Cadbury related merchandises there. Having been indulged by delicious chocolate in Cadbury, we headed to the Dunedin Railway Station. Still according to Lonely Planet, this is the most photographed railway station in the world.
Otago peninsula is another lovely site in Dunedin that has many views to offer. First is Larnach Castle. Larnach Castle has fantastic garden and a spot where you can see Otago Peninsula from top. The castle was surrounded by native rainforest plants. They have a small cafe where visitors can sit and enjoy the scenic view while sipping the tea.
If you are interested to watch Pinguin in their native habitat, then you have to go to to Sandfly Bay in Otago Peninsula where Yellow-eyed Pinguin have their colonies. The best time to catch the Pinguin is before dusk. The local authority provides a shelter for visitor to view the Pinguin colony heading back to their nestle from the sea. By viewing them from behind the shelter, we can see them clearly without obvious interruption. Pinguin is a sensitive and shy animal. Human presence can make them uncomfortable.
It was already 8 PM once we finished watching the Pinguin. However the sun was still shining as in the summer sun usually sets in 9 PM. Feeling hungry we rushed in to Plato, a restaurant recommended by Lonely Planet. Unfortunately, all main course are sold out and only dessert left. We chose Rhubab, a sweet delicacy from Turkey and a Coconut cake. All were nice. Once at hotel, we ate bread and everything we had.
In the next day, we went to Scribe which is said as the largest second hand book in world by Lonely Planet. I could smell the old and vintage books once getting in. The tall shelves and tables were full of books. Amazing. Scribes has complete collections and I bought some books there with half of price surely. Baldwin Street is another interesting and as for me a must-visit site. It is recorded as the steepest street in the world by the Guinness World of Record. If you have a chance to visit the city center, please do come. Enjoy the museum and cafes around the octagon-shaped public space where wi-fi is free.
Our last day at New Zealand was spent at Christchurch. In a day before, we drove to Christchurch from Dunedin. The trip by car was approximately 5 hours. On the trip, we stopped by at the Mouraki Boulder. It is a collection of large spherical boulders in the beach. The boulders are scattered along the beach. We also bought some souvenirs there.
Christchurch. Our last day at New Zealand. It was memorable as we didn’t realize that the windshield of the GPS was missing. Once returning the car to the rent operator, they told us to find it otherwise we had to compensate the lost. And it was expensive. Hurriedly, we went back to hotel and found out the shield already dumped in the bin. Thank God the office boy was very helpful to assist us finding it. 8 day, 9 nights. We’re content and ready to fly to Melbourne.