Staying overnight in Lake Wanaka on day five we only had an hour drive ahead of us to Queenstown. We spent the day relaxing around Wanaka, checking out the famous Stuart Landsborough’s Puzzling World; a fun couple of hours to kill time whilst the weather was rubbish. We headed to Queenstown, passing the famous bra fence that was erected in aid of breast cancer, where women leave their bras and a donation. I had to join in!
The windy road that led us to Queenstown, through and over hills and mountains was beautiful, breathtaking, just completely surreal. Queenstown; a small bustling ski town that’s famously known for its adrenalin activities, is hugged by Lake Wakatipu. We stayed two nights at a lovely DOC campsite situated next to the lake, a short drive out of the town. I loved the old, characteristic feel to the town, surrounded by the snowy topped mountains, and fantastic walking trails. We spent the following morning whizzing down the mountain on a Luge, a mini cart, fantastic fun! Would definitely recommend Queenstown to young and old, adventurous or not, there is heaps of things to do in a beautiful place.
We even made it to my first ever Ice Bar experience with a freebie entry, but first we indulged in some food being cooked for us at a cool pizza cafe.
Not far from Queenstown is the village Glenorchy in a place called Paradise, and well the name says it all. As we drove the road alongside Lake Wakatipu the stunning scenery became very familiar. New Zealand obviously holds the filming location for Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit a main set was based around Glenorchy and Paradise. There was nothing around but nature, mountains, streams, waterfalls and blue sky. Utterly blown away by it all.
After having a relaxed two days of little driving and exploring the town we made our way into the Fiordland region towards Milford Sound, a four and a half hour drive passing through the village of Te Anau, the last place to fill up with gas before hitting the road to Milford where you are pretty much cut from all supplies and signal. Researching the drive beforehand we knew we had to be cautious on the road with it being dangerous in areas. To reach Milford you either pass through a tunnel under the mountains, the only way in and out, or via boat. Built back in 1954 the Homer Tunnel is watched 24/7 due to the high percentage of incidents and the danger of an avalanche occurring blocking the tunnel. I was expecting, you know Dartford type of tunnel, but no, a single lane gravel tunnel with no form of lighting other than your headlights, slightly freaked me out, but quite an experience coming out the other side to a decline from the mountains, waterfalls surrounding us and the Sounds in the distance.
We stayed overnight at the only campground/lodge, called Milford Sound Lodge. For the price we payed ($50) we expected a bit of luxury, very disappointing in fact. Small kitchen with a dingy dining room for an overcrowded amount of guests, and our camper van spot was a parking space outside reception. Although with a rainy cold night in there was not a lot we could do other than get the cards out and enjoy the heating in the lodge.
The following morning we set off early down the road to our sunrise sea kayaking trip. I was so excited, not having kayaked for a couple of years now. Three hours we spent on the water amongst the risen rocks out of the sea, towering thousands of feet above us in all shapes and sizes, one resembling a lion. With such a high percentage of rainfall we managed to kayak on the one day the sun came out. Our quirky Welsh tour guide took us under Lady Bowen Falls, tasting the fresh water from the waterfall and across the sea through the Fiord. Highlight of the trip and an absolutely incredible mesmerising experience to take home with me.
Day eight was our longest drive, making our way back towards Christchurch. To split the journey up we stopped overnight at a secluded campsite in Lindis Pass, ten kilometres off the main road, an unsealed dirt track running between a stream and hill. Eventually it bought us to a spot in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by sheep and countryside very much likened to England, so peaceful. It also held the remains of the very eery Lindis Pass Historic Hotel.