Milford Sound has got to be where the 100% Pure New Zealand advertising campaign originated. You always have to be a bit cautious when everyone says that Milford Sound is the 'must do' thing to do especially when you are in and around Queenstown because more often than not places get hyped up and you expect heaven on a postcard and you then ultimately end up disappointed.
The 4 hour bus ride from Queenstown really has to be worth it especially for those who have been living on a bus for the last few weeks. New Zealand has plenty of spectacular scenery but Milford Sound is all man when it comes to representing New Zealand. The first point that you will sit up in your bus seat on route to Milford Sound is the entrance to Fiordland National Park, it is literally like driving into a tree tunnel, you can't really miss it.
You leave behind the hectares of farmland in favour of that New Zealand bush and forest that teasingly offers spectators snippets of crystal clear waters and rugged rock formations through the trees until they can't bear it any longer and the trees stop momentarily to reveal a mass of breath-taking scenery combined with complete and utter silence.
If you are already impressed at this point into the Fiordland National Park then you have reached the mirrored lakes. At the very least take a picture to impress everyone else back home but this is literally a snapshot of what makes New Zealand worthy of such praise. New Zealand is all about those places you stop at on the way to your destination that you least expect but remember forever.
"As you cruise through an actual film set (...) the water is emerald green and the huge cliffs surrounding you are dotted with tiny waterfalls coloured like the rainbow."
It takes a couple of hours to drive through Fiordland National Park but in true New Zealand style, a couple of hours on a bus is boring so why not offer some mountains, a couple of glaciers, remnants of landslides over the years and a 3km tunnel to drive through to pass the time away. Never will 2 hours go so quick. Arriving at the terminal to depart on your cruise is still amazingly serene. As a country with a small population and a lot of land to share this is reflected at Milford Sound. No matter how many people have come to visit that day, Milford Sound still manages to depict that feeling of wandering amongst the wilderness.
The boat cruises are a wonderful way to gently explore Milford Sound, the commentary isn't mundane, the New Zealand sense of humour is littered throughout the narration. As you cruise through an actual film set, (like most of New Zealand) on a sunny day, the water is emerald green and the huge cliffs surrounding you are dotted with tiny waterfalls coloured like the rainbow. It should probably be said that the scenery is slightly adapted when it rains but nonetheless just as impressive. As a true New Zealander would tell you, "it's just a bit of rain".
A highlight of the cruise is sharing the waters with the New Zealand Fur Seal, or sea lions to everyone else. They couldn't care less that you are there but are fascinating to watch and possibly the only animal life you may catch in Milford Sound. Unlike other parts of New Zealand, Milford Sound is all about the scenery, and there is enough of that to go around. It arrives pretty quick but you soon see the sunlight sparkle (literally, no exaggeration) on the opening to the Tasman Sea. Mr Abel Tasman would be so proud.
It is actually gutting that you have to turn around but the journey back is yet again filled to the brim with the scenery that makes New Zealand famous. Simple and elegant scenery with a little bit of cheeky banter from the fur seals and cruise captains is what makes Milford Sound 100% Pure New Zealand, so go, on "Go all the Way".