Mirror Lake

New Zealand Road Trip – Days 7-9 – Fiordland

Day 7 – Valentine’s Day

This day was another big driving day for us, but also a day to “catch up”.  We left our campsite, Cameron Flat, and drove South towards Queenstown, stopping for lunch in a small town.  When we stopped for lunch, we decided it was probably a good idea to shower and do some laundry.  We found on the Wicked App, a gas station that had both showers and a laundromat.  The laundry was a bit on the expensive side – $10 NZD (about $7 USD) total.  For the shower, you get 5 minutes for $4 NZD (about $2.80 USD).  We had read that several people “share” the shower to maximize the cost benefit, so Steve and I decided to do that.  We had made our plan on who was in the shower, while someone shampooed, etc.  Our plan was so efficient, we actually had a minute to spare, which Steve gave generously to me to just stand under hot water.  While our laundry dried, we did some grocery shopping and scouted places for lunch.  Once we finished folding our clothes and putting away groceries, we headed to lunch at a nearby café.  The town was near a lake, so of course, we stopped to enjoy the view.

Cameron Flat Campsite
Cameron Flat Campsite
Lake Wanaka
Lake Wanaka
Lake Hawea
Lake Hawea
Lake Wanaka from the City of Wanaka
Lake Wanaka from the City of Wanaka

In Queenstown, we parked in a shopping plaza for a bit just to use Steve’s data to make some plans for the future.  I had a coupon from an airport magazine for a “buy one get one free” Jucy boat cruise in Milford Sound, so I called and made the reservation for the Thursday we were there.  We chose that day, as it was the only sunny day of the week according to the Weather Channel app.  We also took some time to look at Australia flights, hotels, apartments, car rentals, etc.  We ended up booking a wicked camper car for our time in Melbourne to do the Great Ocean Road.   We spent a few hours here making plans for the next few days, and further out in Australia.

View towards Queenstown
View towards Queenstown
View towards Queenstown
View towards Queenstown
View towards Queenstown from Arrow Junction Lookout Point
View towards Queenstown from Arrow Junction Lookout Point

We left Queenstown sometime after 4pm, and drove a few hours to Fiordland.  We picked a DOC camp spot just as you entered the national park, right next to a lake.  For Valentine’s, we didn’t do anything special, same pasta meal.  Although, we spent some time walking along the shores of a nearby lake.  I asked Steve for one thing – a haircut.  My hair was getting long, and hard to manage when you aren’t showering every day.  He happily obliged and took about two inches off my hair – it looked fantastic and was much easier to brush through the tangled mess the next day.

View of Lake Te Anau from Henry Creek Campsite
View of Lake Te Anau from Henry Creek Campsite
Andi's Haircut
Andi’s Haircut

 

Day 8

We decided to drive the scenic road through Fiordland National Park all the way to Milford Sound, so we could check out the lookout points and get the lay of the land before our early morning boat cruise the next day.  The park itself has a dozen lookout points and the drive took quite long.  We stopped at every point we could stop – and even though the weather was rainy, cold and cloudy, we enjoyed it all.  When stopping at mirror lake, a lake that reflects the mountains behind it like a mirror, we met a gentleman at the map board that turned to Steve and said, “You look like one cool dude, you must drive a Harley Davidson”.  It made me smile and laugh.  He said he liked motorcycles and him and Steve discussed that topic for a bit.

Monkey Creek
Monkey Creek
The Chasam
The Chasam

Our drive through Fiordland was stunning.  One highlight in particular was driving through the Homer tunnel.  The tunnel is .75-mile long.  While you are waiting for the light, there are Keas in the parking lot to entertain you.  Keas are often called the Mountain Parrot.  They are beautiful, smart and curious (a lethal combo).  There are signs everywhere to not feed them but of course people don’t follow rules and feed them anyway.  It is for this reason the birds hang out by the tunnel since people stop at the light and will feed them.  On the way into Milford Sound one of the Keas came up to my window and when I didn’t give him anything, he jumped on our car and pooped on our window.  On our way back out of Milford Sound while stopped at the light, Steve jumped out of the car to take a photo and left the door open.  A few Keas thought this was an invitation to check out the car and perhaps enter.  They came up and started chewing on the rubber part of the car door and looked at me like, “Can I come in?”  I shooed them away and Steve came back and closed the door.  One thing is for sure – these guys are SMART!  In Milford Sound we scoped out the parking lot and went in the visitor center.  We drove back to the nearest DOC camp, 45 minutes away.

Milford Sound Highway Tunnel
Milford Sound Highway Tunnel
Kea Birds
Kea Birds
Kea Bird
Kea Bird

 

Day 9

We had a 9AM boat cruise, so we left camp by 7:30 to make sure we were on time.  Milford Sound was sunny, and we knew we would have great weather for the ride.  We got on our Jucy Cruise, and were surprised it came with a breakfast bun and “Orange” juice.  I learned that orange juice here isn’t really orange juice, but Tang or Sunny D or something like that.  Our cruise was two hours long and went through the fiord.  We were treated to big mountains, waterfalls and even seals.  Our cruise captain really enjoyed getting up close to the falls, sometimes only feet away.  At one point the captain got us close the entire top deck was getting soaked.  A Japanese tourist quickly ran to Steve and hid behind him and giggled.  It was hilarious.  We didn’t get to see Fiordland penguins, whales, or dolphins, but it is hard to be disappointed when we got so incredibly lucky with weather.

Milford Sound Highway
Milford Sound Highway
Fur Seals
Fur Seals
Milford Sound
Milford Sound
Milford Sound
Milford Sound
Milford Sound
Milford Sound
Stirling Falls
Stirling Falls

Doing small plane and helicopter tours are very popular, and I can see us doing one if we ever return.  I think that the cruise worked perfectly for us, especially since it was paid with a coupon!

When we returned to dock, we walked around Milford Sound before hopping in the car.  The weather was so incredibly better, we ended up making the same stops we did the day prior to get better photos of the national park.

Milford Sound
Milford Sound
Mirror Lake
Mirror Lake
Milford Sound Highway
Milford Sound Highway
Eglinton Valley
Eglinton Valley

We had to make a decision on where to go to next.  We could’ve gone further South, but as we only had a few more days with the van we thought it would be best to get to Dunedin area that night so we didn’t have to rush to Christchurch on our last day.  So we took off to Dunedin, even driving through the town – seeing the famous Cadbury Office and settling into camp 30 minutes outside the city.

 

Stay tuned!

Andrea

Loves adventures with Steven, family & friends. If not adventuring with loved ones, I am usually running half marathons, reading books, trying new food, cuddling with Sparky, Brady or Tachy, hiking, playing ice hockey, or rooting for a local bay area sports team. “...when we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too.” ― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

2 thoughts to “New Zealand Road Trip – Days 7-9 – Fiordland”

  1. Beautiful!!! We missed our cruise to Milford Sound because some of the road had washed out, and it cancelled. We were so disappointed! Next time………..so glad you had beautiful weather to take it all in! Great haircut!!

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