When I first sat down to write about this leg of our trip I actually got a bit nervous because it was by far my favourite place we went, I don’t know if I can do the experiences we had justice. When you visit Fiordland National Park there is definitely this initial feeling of ‘will it live up to the hype?’ and ‘is it really as beautiful as everyone says it is?’ and most importantly ‘what the heck is a sound? is it the same as a fjord?’ The answers to those questions are: yes, yes it is bloody stunning. A sound is created by a river a fjord is created by a glacier and so both Milford and Doubtful sounds are actually fjords, and I feel lied to.
We were staying in Te Anau a small town just outside of the national park. So on the first day we took the couple hours drive into the national park to see Milford Sound. We didn’t go on any of the boat tours at Milford Sound we just relaxed, and soaked up the view which is exactly as the photos say it will look like. Even with a number of tour boats moving around the sound it is one of the most surreal experiences to see something even with all the human activity seem so untouched and beautiful. On the way back out from seeing Milford Sound we stopped and soaked up all of the views and lookout spots on the road, the most memorable of which was a group of three Keas (a native NZ bird) that walked all over the car and roof top tent. We soon came to learn that Keas are high mischievous birds and are regularly featured on signs telling people not to feed them.
The next day was a super early start, to get on a coach, then a boat, and then another coach to go an visit Doubtful Sound. My Nana who has visit New Zealand more times than I can remember recommended doing the cruise out here, and while we would have seen more of the Sound that way we opted for a day Kayak Tour instead. So after putting on a bunch of kayak gear and being bitten on any remaining exposed skin by the sandflies we set off for a few hours in the boats. It was definitely tiring after such an early wake-up time and minimal breakfast/coffee but man o man was it worth every minute. And once we got into a good rhythm of things (we were in a tandem kayak) you could really appreciate the views and just the sheer size and emptiness of the place. We were very lucky while we were there that it was sunny the whole time we were out on the water which isn’t all that common, but it had rained that morning so all of the temporary waterfalls were out. The best part about choosing to kayak over a cruise tour is that you feel completely alone out on the water. The rest of the day after the kayak trip was spent relaxing and going to eat pizza at a nearby Italian restaurant which was damn good I might add. The rest of the day was spent packing and organising for the next legs of our trip: Mount Cook and Akaroa.
Bonus Story time: Lets preface this with a ‘Don’t worry mum I am fine’ shall we. The morning we left Te Anau I fainted coming down the ladder from the rooftop tent landing on my back which led to a bruise on both my left hip and shoulder this also meant I couldn’t do as much as I wanted to in a few of the upcoming locations, and to a series of in-jokes about me being a clumsy human being.