Our driver down to Milford Sound was Diesel who had driven us around much of North Island so it was nice to see a familiar face.
Bounded by steep cliffs and dense rainforest, Milford Sound is by far the best known of all of the fiords in New Zealand, and the only one that can be accessed by road. Not only this, it is one of the natural wonders of the world. At the pinnacle of Milford Sound is the iconic Mitre Peak – standing a proud 1,692 metres above sea level, it is certainly an impressive sight to behold.
The bus drive to Milford Sound was roughly 5 hours one way so it definitely a day spent mostly on the bus. Diesel did however stop of at some pretty cool places on way down for us to admire including beautiful mirror lakes (Lake Gunn), tumbling waterfalls and wonderful mountainous ranges with snow capped peaks (Monkey Creek).
Most of the drive down to Milford Sound is via Highway 94 which is deemed to be one of the most dangerous roads in the world due to the large amounts of avalanches which occur in the area. If the road is open there is a no stopping zone for half an hour which is a bit scary – it makes you wonder what you would do if you suddenly heard a rumble.
In this area there is quite an unusual tunnel which is carved though one of the Mountains – it unusual because the tunnel is completely unsupported and was literally just drilled out in one piece!
Soon we arrived at Milford Sound and boarded the boat which would be taking us through the fjords for the next couple of hours – we could not have been luckier with the weather.
Maori are believed to have discovered Milford Sound more than 1,000 years ago, returning seasonally to the fiord to collect precious pounamu (also known as greenstone or jade). These treks from the east used traditional pathways across passes such as MacKinnon Pass on the Milford Track (the Milford Track is currently believed to be the number one walk in the world). In Maori legend, Milford Sound was formed by Tu-te-raki-whanoa, an atua (godly figure) who shaped the Fiordland coast. Chanting a powerful karakia (prayer), he carved the towering rock walls with his adze. The Maori name for Milford Sound is Piopiotahi and refers to the piopio, a long-extinct native bird said to have flown here in mourning at the death of legendary hero Maui.
I’ll let the photos of Milford Sound do the talking – it’s easy to see why this place is so famous. It is beautiful.