Milford Sound: Spilling Over With Superlatives

milford soundThere’s a rare, magical quality to Fiordland. This remote corner of the South Island serves up scenery like no other place on earth: a dramatic, silent grandeur untainted by modern day life. Experience its splendour for yourself on our 5-day Milford Sound guided cycle tour. Here’s what awaits…

Day 1: Queenstown. Up to 46km
A relaxing day of riding to ease you into the saddle and explore the stunning scenery that surrounds Queenstown. We take a drive out to Glenorchy, considered the wildest side of the Wakatipu, and then pedal our way back to Queenstown, drinking in the lake and mountain vistas.

Day 2: Queenstown to Fiordland. 35-90kms
After a hearty breakfast, we set out along the narrow lakeside road to Kingston, home to the mighty Kingston Flyer steam train. After lunch, we drive to Lake Manapouri and walk a section of the Kepler Track. By late afternoon we’re back on the bikes for a meander through the spectacular Eglinton Valley and a chance to view the “Avenue of the Disappearing Mountain” – an optical illusion that causes the approaching mountain to get smaller rather than larger.

Day 3: Te Anau To Milford Sound. 37kms.
Your opportunity to ride one of the most scenic roads in the world. We’ll take our time, stopping to sample some of the short walks along the way, soak up the dramatic scenery and admire the ingenuity and toil of the men who built this road back in 1929, armed only with picks, shovels and sheer determination. We’ll coast through the Homer Tunnel before enjoying a 16km exhilarating descent to Milford Sound, where our floating night’s accommodation awaits. That’s right, tonight you’re sleeping on a boat! There’s time for a cruise of the Sound, a kayak and maybe even a dip, before we settle into calm, silent waters for the night.

Day 4: Milford Sound to Te Anau. 24-89kms
Set your alarm clock to experience dawn rising over the Sound – it’s truly breathtaking. After breakfast it’s back to dry land and a trek up Key Summit for a different perspective of this incredible landscape. Then it’s pedal to the metal for a late afternoon ride through the beautiful Eglinton Valley to Te Anau. Your evening is free to explore the town – you might fancy a night at the movies to see Ata Whenua – Shadowland, a film showcasing Fiordland’s extreme beauty.

Day 5: Te Anau To Queenstown. 36-58kms.
First stop of the day are the lovely Mavora Lakes, where closing scenes of Lord of the Rings were filmed. Then it’s on to the Vonn Valley for lunch. We’re signing off with a flourish – a farm style afternoon tea at Walter Peak Station before a steam-powered trip back to Queenstown aboard the TSS Earnslaw. She’s been puttering across the lake since 1912, originally carrying sheep, wool and food, today as a popular tourist attraction complete with piano and sing-song. What a fitting way to farewell your tour!

Take this tour
The Milford Sound tour is available from November through to April. Head here for exact dates. Tour costs $2275.00 NZD per person, which includes:

  • Four nights of 3-star, twin share accommodation.
  • Four breakfasts, three lunches and two dinners. (We leave you free to sample local cafes/restaurants on certain days).
  • Support vehicle to whisk you up the steep bits.
  • Luggage transfer for lightweight touring.
  • Knowledgeable, friendly tour guide.
  • High quality bike hire.
  • Overnight accommodation on the Milford Sound.
  • Cruise on the TSS Earnslaw
  • DOC fees

Grade: 2. Moderate.

To book, Fire us an email simply send us an email.

Image: Ben Wiseley

Small Town New Zealand: Te Anau

fiordland new zealandLocated in wild, remote Fiordland, in the south-west corner of the South Island, Te Anau is often skipped through by travellers en route to the dramatic splendour of Milford Sound. But this little town, known as the wilderness capital of New Zealand, is well worth a linger.

Head underground: Te Anau means “cave with a current of swirling water” and that cave just happens to be a vast underground network of whirlpools and waterfalls twinkling with the light from thousands of glow-worms. You can take a boat tour though the Te Anau Gloworm Caves with Real Journeys – your trip includes a cruise across Lake Te Anau before you drift through this silent, sparkling underworld.

Cycle: From Queenstown, a fantastic cycling adventure is to hop aboard the TSS Earnslaw for a cruise across Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak Station. From there, saddle up and ride the Mavora Lakes backcountry road to Te Anau. Parts of this area were used to film the closing scenes of Lord of the Rings – so expect some very big vistas.

Walk: Trampers are spoilt for choice in this region and numerous short and multi-day walks can be accessed from Te Anau. These include:

Milford Track: 53.5km of dramatic scenery and varied terrain. This is a four-day trek that starts at the head of Lake Te Anau and finishes at Sandfly Point with a boat ride to Milford Sound.
Hollyford Track: A three-day, 37km walk that’s a good option for families.
Kepler: A 60km track that winds its way up and down the mountains surrounding Te Anau. It’s usually walked over three or four days.
Routeburn: 32km of exquisite scenery.

For day walks, pick up a brochure from the local DOC office.

Kayak: Don’t just gaze in awe at the pristine waters of this area – paddle them! Numerous operators offer single and multi-day kayaking experiences on both Milford and Doubtful Sound.

Jet-boat: Humpbridge Jet offers jet boat adventures along the wild Wairaurahiri River and Lake Hauroko, to the south of Te Anau. They have a variety of different packages available.

Fish: Not surprisingly, the rivers and lakes of this area are teeming with fish of all shapes and sizes. Fish Jet offer a variety of guided trips.

Drive: The Te Anau to Milford Highway is a dramatic journey through the upper corner of the Fiordland National Park, which culminates in the stunningly beautiful Milford Sound. Keep a close eye on the weather if you’re visiting between May and November – conditions can (and do) change rapidly.

Java-hit: Sandfly Café. Tasty food for the hiking pack, too.

Take flight: If there was ever a location to fork out for a helicopter ride, this is it. Fiordland’s impressive grandeur is even more breathtaking from the air and numerous operators are ready and waiting to give you a bird’s eye view.

After-hours: Hard to believe, but Te Anau does actually have a cinema. It was purpose-built by helicopter pilot and movie-maker Kim Hollows to screen Ata Whenua – Shadowland, a movie Kim filmed to showcase the majesty and beauty of Fiordland.

Quench a thirst: Black Dog bar is located at the Fiordland Cinema. It serves locally-brewed Fiordland lager and Black Dog wines, plus bar snacks. You can also take your drinks into the cinema.

Stay: Te Anau Top 10 Holiday Park is located right on the lake’s edge. Henry Creek Campsite is the closest DOC site to the town – it’s 25km from Te Anau on the road to Milford Sound.

Image: Jocelyn Kinghorn