If you could only pick one place to go in New Zealand, where would it be? For us, we chose to go to the quaint mountain town of Queenstown on the South Island that is also known as the “adventure capital” of New Zealand. The town was full of tour agencies advertising the likes of bungy jumping, sky diving, jet boating, parasailing, and so on.

Although these activities were tempting (not really, I’m a wimp!) we were there for an entirely different reason. On our minds was the beautiful iconic landscape of Milford Sound just a few hours drive from Queenstown. It is one of the most visited places in New Zealand and is most known as the ending point for the popular multi-day hike, the Milford Track. Mark and I didn’t manage this trek and instead chose the more leisurely cruise tour experience.

There were so many tour operators to chose from in Queenstown that it was a little overwhelming at first. With the help of Happy Travels agency in town, we booked the Jucy Milford Sound Cruise Tour, which included the bus ride from Queenstown through Te’Anau to Milford Sound where we transferred onto a boat for a 90-minute-long cruise. We went with Jucy because they were the cheapest option and because we were familiar with the company since we’ve seen their bright green and purple campervans in Utah.

Jucy Milford Sound Cruise Tour

We booked our tour two days in advance, crossed our fingers that we’d have good weather that day. At Milford Sound it rains over 200 days out of the year, so it’s a risk picking which day to go see it. On tour day we were picked up by our hostel and greeted by our bus driver/tour guide Eric who provided great information about our surroundings during the ride. He also told us about the time he was a stuntman for Lord of the Rings, which gave him major brownie points as the coolest tour guide yet.

On the ride to Milford Sound we made quite a few stops for photos and nature walks. First stop was in Te’Anau, the starting point for those who do the Milford Track. Our 30-minute stop was more for a restroom and lunch break. When we got off the bus Mark noticed a couple sitting in front of us and saw that the man was wearing a Utah Utes T-shirt.

He asked the couple where they were from and they said Roy, Utah, just an hour or so away from where we used to live! Their daughter was also with them who had been in New Zealand for several months nannying in Auckland.

Milford Sound, New Zealand.

It’s been very rare for us running into Americans, let alone fellow Utahns, so we were surprised and excited to meet them. They were very kind asking us about our journey and giving us reminders of home as they talked about places in Utah. It was starting to make us feel homesick!

After chatting with them on our break, we boarded the bus again and entered the Fiordland National Park. Along the way we made stops in a few interesting spots:

Eglinton Valley–a glaciated valley that is one of the only road-accessible valleys in Fiordland.

Mirror Lakes–a short nature walk with a clear reflection of the mountains on windless days.

Monkey Creek–a creek alongside grand granite peaks. No monkeys here!

Homer Tunnel–a 1.2 km long, steep, dark road tunnel.

The Chasm–a series of footpaths walking over waterfalls in narrow gorges.

Jucy Milford Sound Cruise Tour

As passengers of the last cruise of the day, we earnestly took off as soon as we arrived at the port to catch some of the sunshine peeking through the clouds. The weather didn’t look like it was going to cooperate as clouds hovered over the ridge lines and kept the tall Mitre Peak hidden from our view. So the sights above were obsolete, but we still had some great things to see at eye level. The ship steered us by a small group of sea lions resting on rocks and also took us within feet of a gushing waterfall.

Toward the end of our cruise we saw something amazing–a rainbow, from one end to the other, creating a perfect archway for our cruise to sail underneath. It was as if Milford was trying to apologize to us, “Hey, sorry about the clouds…how about a rainbow to make up for it?” Apology accepted.

Milford Sound, New Zealand.

If you go…

Jucy Milford Sound Cruise Tour

Tour Length: 12 hours long (much of it is spent on the bus ride, 90 minutes on the cruise)

Book Online: http://www.jucycruize.co.nz/milford-sound-day-trip/

Cost: $119 NZD/person


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