Tag archive for "milford sound"

A video tour of New Zealand’s South Island

Destinations, New Zealand, New Zealand, Road Trip

A video tour of New Zealand’s South Island

6 Comments 30 April 2012

It’s not possible to take just a few photos in New Zealand’s South Island. In fact, it’s almost impossible not to take thousands.

Considering my track record with taking too many photos (600 in Angkor Wat, yikes), I thought maybe I would try recording my travels around the South Island on video instead of photos. That way I could get every view, every moment, every glorious mountain or lake on record.

This is really my first attempt at vlogging a trip, so be kind. I separated this series into four parts. Ric, my dad and I started our 10-day journey around the South Island from Wellington and ended in Queenstown. Our car Maximus was a reliable carrier. It was nice to have private transportation in this trip, because we could stop at as many waterfalls, gorges and lookouts as we wanted and trust me, we did.

Part I: Wellington to Abel Tasman

We started our journey in Wellington as that has been my hometown for the previous five months. From Wellington, it’s a three-hour ferry ride across the Cook Strait to Picton on the South Island.

We didn’t spend long in Picton, just enough time to have fish and chips along the water and spot a ray in the water. We traveled to Blenheim to visit a friend at Moa Brewery, then headed to Nelson where we set up our tents just off the beach at Tahuna Beach Holiday Park.

After only one night, we left early the next morning for Abel Tasman, stopping along the way for my dad’s first skydive. The start of the trip was a bit of a rush, so we spent two days relaxing, kayaking and eating burgers in Abel Tasman.

Part II: Abel Tasman to Hokitika Gorge

The next leg of our trip was more about the journey then the destination. We spent this day and a half mainly on the road, which you’ll find is a good thing when traveling New Zealand.

We had a picnic on the beach as soon as we hit the West Coast in Charleston. We played around at a sweet cave on the beach not too much further up the road. Of course we stopped in Punakaiki to see Pancake Rocks. Then we spent a night in Greymouth at Noah’s Ark, one of the very best hostels I’ve ever visited. Greymouth is home to Monteith’s Brewery. Naturally we sampled the beer.

The first half of the following day was all about hitting Hokitika Gorge on the way to Franz Josef. I’ve never seen water that color blue. Stunning.

Part III: Hokitika Gorge to Queenstown

Unlike the last part, this part was all about the destinations. We hit some of New Zealand’s most notables in these days. First was Franz Josef where we climbed a glacier. Next was Haast where we tried white bait. After there was Wanaka where we sampled wine at Rippon Vineyard.

Finally we reached Queenstown, where we gave up our tents for a sweet apartment. In the country’s ski capital we had an amazing meal at The Bunker, which has a mysterious James Bond vibe to it. A few days isn’t enough in Queenstown. Luckily, we’d be coming back.

Part IV: Queenstown to Milford Sound

There’s no better way to finish a trip to the South Island than with what is perhaps its most stunning scenery, Milford Sound.

While Queenstown and Milford Sound are not that far from each other on a map, the only road connecting these two destinations goes completely out of the way, so the drive takes about four hours. It’s a great dive though, as usual.

We arrived in Milford Sound, rain pouring and waterfalls gushing. The small town doesn’t have many places to stay, so Milford Sound Lodge was an easy pick. The lodge is warm and full of life. Its dining area is walled with windows, so we spent the night drinking wine and watching the rain come down on the mountains just next to the lodge.

While I loved being in Milford Sound in the stormy weather and seeing how powerful the place is, I didn’t really want to cruise Milford Sound in rain the next day. Luckily, the clouds separated and the sun came out giving us a gorgeous day at sea. Unfortunately we had to leave early that day to drive back to Queenstown where Ric and I said goodbye to my dad at the airport.

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Cruising Milford Sound, a photo tour

Destinations, New Zealand, Other, Photography

Cruising Milford Sound, a photo tour

5 Comments 08 March 2012

Calling Milford Sound the most spectacular sight in New Zealand is a pretty bold statement.

Have you seen New Zealand?

It’s quite possibly the most gorgeous country on earth. Everywhere you look is amazing.

But for me, Milford Sound was the climax of our two week scenic tour of the South Island.

Located in the mountainous Fiordland, Milford Sound is a fiord located 15-kilometers from the Tasman Sea. It’s jaw-dropping from land, but the best way to experience it is by boat.

Several cruise operators offer Milford Sound tours, including overnight, morning, and afternoon tours. Prices range, but I found Jucy Cruize to be the most affordable option.

Starting at $65, the 90-minute tours leads its passengers from the Milford Sound Visitor Center and Boat Harbour to Dale Point, which is where Milford Sound opens to the Tasman Sea, and back. Along the way a guide will point out some of the most well-known sights, including Stirling Falls, Seal Rock and Mt. Pembroke.

The cruise felt just right on all levels. Jucy’s boat is smaller than other boats docked in the harbor, but they don’t cram it with people, allowing passengers to move around freely. The length of the tour was enough so that passengers really saw Milford Sound, but could spend the rest of the day exploring the area on foot or driving to their next destination. Most important, the price is unbeatable for backpackers.

Further, the staff was really friendly and they offer free tea, coffee and hot chocolate. We spent a night in Milford Sound staying at Milford Lodge, but for people who can only visit for one day, Jucy sells a cruise trip and return coach journey from Queenstown package starting at $159 for adults. Altogether, Jucy Cruize was a really informative and affordable way to see Milford Sound. Here are some highlights from our trip.

A classic Milford Sound shot with Mitre Peak in the background. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

The white-tipped mountain in the back is Mt. Pembroke, the tallest mountain to look down on the fiord. It’s glacier is over one million years old. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Stirling Falls from a distance, the magnificent waterfall drops 146 meters. This photo was taken at about 10 a.m., so the waterfall is shadowed by surrounding mountains. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Clouds surround the mountains in Milford Sound. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon


Speckled with forestry, rocky mountains surround the fiord are quite steep. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon


Fairy Falls drops straight into the fiord. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

The view from Dale Point on the way back on our cruise. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

When the black waters in this fiord are still, they mirror the mountains above. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon


New Zealand fur seals scattered all over Seal Rock. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Our cruise backed right up to Stirling Falls. Everyone with nice cameras were running for cover. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Thanks to Jucy Cruize for sponsoring my ten day South Island adventure. As always, all opinions are my own.

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A video montage of South Island scenery

Destinations, New Zealand, New Zealand, Road Trip

A video montage of South Island scenery

8 Comments 29 January 2012

While New Zealand may be known for its extreme sports, sheep and friendly people, it’s the country’s scenery that dominates anyone’s travels here. We spent ten days traveling the country’s South Island from Picton to Milford Sound constantly saying,”Look at that!” or “Wow that’s beautiful!”. Ric said after three days, “You really run out of superlatives for this place.”

He couldn’t have been more right. 

Driving this great country is truly incredible. Every turn presents a new landscape and every bend a sight more breathtaking than the last. We traveled about 2,000 kilometers up, down and through mountains, beside vineyards and crystal clear lakes.

Our general route of the South Island on Google Maps.

No picture or video will ever do this country justice, but hopefully this montage of our drive across the South Island will help people realize why I can so easily declare that New Zealand is by far the most beautiful country I’ve ever traveled.

Thanks to Interislander and Jucy Cruize for sponsoring my ten day South Island adventure. As always, all opinions are my own.

Banner photo taken by Bobbi Lee Hitchon near Milford Sound.

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Sound to Sound fact 3: A Sound

Destinations, New Zealand, Other, Tips & Facts

Sound to Sound fact 3: A Sound

No Comments 15 January 2012

The title of this campaign actually contains one of our facts.

What actually is a Sound?

In geography a sound or seaway is a large sea or ocean inlet larger than a bay, deeper than a bight and wider than a fjord; or it may be defined as a narrow sea or ocean channel between two bodies of land.-Wikipedia

Two sounds we’ll be visiting on our trip are the Marlborough Sounds and Milford Sound.

Banner photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon.

This is part of Heels and Wheels’ countdown to the South Island. Come back tomorrow to find more interesting facts about New Zealand’s South Island. 

Come back tomorrow to find out another South Island fact for day 2 of our countdown.

Thanks to Interislander and Jucy Cruize for sponsoring my ten day South Island adventure. As always, all opinions are my own.

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From Sound to Sound

Destinations, New Zealand, Other, Tips & Facts

From Sound to Sound

2 Comments 08 January 2012

Heels and Wheels are dusting off their luggage, packing up and hitting the road again for the first time in five months. 

If you’ve been following the blog, you’ll know that Ric and I have been living in Wellington, New Zealand recently. While I guess technically that could be counted as travel since neither of us are kiwis, nor had we ever been to Wellington prior to this trip, we’re ready to start REALLY traveling again.

It’s been a brilliant few months here in the country’s capital. Unfortunately, it was one more focused on saving up money than holidaying. We spent six months prior to our arrival in New Zealand traveling Asia and the USA, so we really needed to buckle down and focus when we arrived in New Zealand.

All the hard work paid off. We’ve both reached our monetary goals and will be hitting the road to explore New Zealand’s South Island, from the Marlborough Sounds to Milford Sound,  in ten days. Readers can follow all our adventures from sound to sound here.

However, we’re too excited to just countdown in our heads till then, so we’ll be counting down with all of you. Over the next ten days we’ll post one interesting fact about the South Island per day.

We hope you’ll follow along to get to know a bit about us and the great island we’ll be tramping. (Fact: Tramping is a kiwi term for hiking.) Find all South Island countdown facts below:

Sound to Sound fact 10: Nevis Bungy

Sound to Sound fact 9: Mount Cook

Sound to Sound fact 8: Nelson’s Blue Lake

Sound to Sound fact 7: Aurora Australis

Sound to Sound fact 6: sunny New Zealand 

Sound to Sound fact 5: steepest street in the world

Sound to Sound fact 4: Franz Josef Glacier

Sound to Sound fact 3: a Sound

Sound to Sound fact 2: Slope Point

Sound to Sound Finale: rugby

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