Just a quick stop off in Queenstown as planned to come back here in a few days for one night before heading back north. But this short stop was enough for us to get a feel of the town and what a great feeling we got. We had all formed not a very good impression of Queenstown just listening to people talk about it and how it compared to Wanaka, I guess we all just expected it to be a lot more run down than it was, and run down was certainly not a word you would use to describe it with a Loui Vuitton in the shopping mall!! I still love Wanaka but Queenstown for me just had more life and definitely a younger feel to it. But we would explore it in more detail on the way back in a few days, it was time to continue on to Te Anau.
Te Anau is the last town before Milford Sound so we had booked in for one night to break up the journey to Milford Sound which was planned for the next day. You can do day trips to the Sound from Queenstown but its a very long day, and you can also fly in! Te Anau is often overlooked by travellers as a stopping off point but as I had spent Xmas here and already knew what it had to offer I knew Mum and Peter would think it was a worthwhile stop, and I don't think they were disappointed! We stayed in a motel that overlooked Lake Te Anau, was it really only a few months ago when I was here wakeboarding on this lake on Xmas Eve???
Up early the next morning for our day trip to Milford Sound to find the weather hadn't really cleared up much overnight and that it had even snowed!! We had been told in this weather we should stop off at the petrol station on the way to Milford Sound to see if snow chains were needed!!! None of us ever having used snow chains before were a bit nervous of the thought of putting them on, but in the end we were told the roads were still open and that we shouldn't need them thank god! So off we set to Milford Sound.
Milford Sound is regarded by many as one of the scenic wonders of the world, its one of New Zealand's most visited natural attraction and the only fiord that can be accessed by road. The 16km long fiord is dominated by the mile high Mitre Peak which rises vertically upwards out of the water. And on a good day these waters are almost glass like with amazing reflections, unfortunately for us we didn't quite get these views to begin with because of the grey and wet weather. I suppose it was to be expected though when you hear that Milford Sound has over 7m (that's metres not millimetres) of rain a year which is over an inch a day!!! But always ones to look on the bright side, Mum and me were confident it would improve for our 2hr boat trip, and we were right! Half way through the trip out on Milford Sound the sun came out and the clouds cleared leaving a lovely blue sky and giving us some great photo opportunities.
We had a great trip on the Sound, as well as some amazing views we saw quite a few seals frolicking in the waters and sunning themselves on the rocks! Unfortunately no penguins or dolphins though, but just seeing the sound in its full splendour with hundreds of waterfalls thundering down the mountains from the recent rain was just amazing to see. No photo can really capture the stunning views that can be seen in Milford Sound. And then to top it off, as the weather had cleared up by the afternoon we had a lovely drive back through the mountains to Te Anau, and it was certainly a better view than the one on the way down! We stopped off along the way as well to take a look at some Kea's which are alpine parrots that live up in the mountains. Beware though, don't leave your car unattended whilst they are around as they will rip parts off it, a bit like baboons/monkeys do, and we did actually see one Kea that took a particular liking to one car in the car park and did just this!!!
Next day it was time to say goodbye to Te Anau and head back to Queenstown. It is a 2hr drive to Queenstown from Te Anau along a very scenic road that cuts through the mountains and what a drive it turned out to be, in one word 'breathtaking'! I don't know if I have ever experienced a drive quite like it, around every corner there was another stunning vista just waiting to be admired! Of course it helped that the sun was shining, the sky was blue and there was snow on top of the mountains. It did literally take our breaths away!! Once back in Queenstown it was a time for a quick coffee stop before I had an interview to attend for a job for the forthcoming ski season as a Food and Beverage Buyer for the restaurants and cafes in the ski resorts! The interview went well, its now just a matter of waiting to see how I got on, fingers crossed!
The more time I spend in Queenstown, the more I like it. It's got everything Wanaka has but I guess it also has a slightly younger and possibly more upmarket feel to it in places, and after spending the last two months in complete isolation in the north island, I won't be making that mistake again! And I guess Queenstown also has the edge for being able to constantly feed the adrenelin seekers quest for danger, which I suppose you would say I was!! Unfortunately we didn't really have the time to investigate any of these activities but I will hopefully be back in a couple of months and will check them out then. We did manage to fit in a ride in the gondola though up the mountain where we admired the views of Queenstown down below, definitely worth it!