The Most Beautiful Place I’ve Ever Seen: Milford Sound
We left Franz Josef after a night of the hardest rain I’ve seen on my trip so far. I was desperately hoping that it would move off or abate by the time we got to Queenstown. I had a lot planned for the adrenaline capital of New Zealand and didn’t want it spoiled by too much bad weather.
The first day I headed out to Milford Sound. It’s world famous for its amazing views and incredible walking track. While we didn’t have any time for walking the track we took a full day tour out into the waters of the sound. The 4 hour coach took us from Queenstown around the mountains and down to Milford. Even the views from the coach were stunning.
The drive took us through some gnarly terrain along the Milford Road. The drivers need a special certification to be allowed to drive this road during the winter because it can get really bad. Sometimes there’s snow, sometimes ice, sometimes both. Every few hundred meters there was evidence of avalanches from the last year. Apparently the roads been closed 13 days already this year because of the slides and supposed to get worse.
One section of trees looked completely obliterated. There was no snow to be seen even though they had been tossed around recently. The avalanche had stopped further up the hill but the blast of air that comes down with the snow left the trees uprooted and in various snapped and broken positions.
Finally, our anxious bus ride was over and we were greeted with the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen.
The breeze was calmly blowing through the sound as we boarded the boat and started the 2 hour putter to the Tasman Sea. I lost count the number of times I completely zoned out, dumbstruck by the beauty of the water, mountains, and snow. The past few days had been filled with rain so the waterfalls were moving pretty good and they were all over the place. Small ones, tall ones, wide ones, narrow ones.
The landscape looked prehistoric. I half expected a brontosaurus to raise it’s head out of the misty woods.
On the way out to the sound the driver teased us with the prospect of flying back over the mountains in a helicopter or a plane. Not only would it give us a site of the incredibly picturesque mountains and water, we’d be back in Queenstown in 30 minutes to enjoy the rest of our day. After flying around in the helicopter on the Franz Josef Glacier, I was set on defying gravity again. Once I heard the price of $550 bucks to take the flight back, I had to rethink my choice of travel. Even the flight back was a bit steep at $330. Nearer to the terminal though, the driver announced that we could get a deal for the plane flight at $260(and even less after the exchange). That sealed it. I was going to fly back to Queenstown over the mountains.
I wasn’t disappointed.
35 minutes of absolutely amazing views.