After spending nice days at Mt. Cook, that day I let my brother to sat behind the wheel. We traveled to Wanaka via Twizel, Omarama, and Lindis. Like a trip to Mt. Cook, the scenery during the trip looks amazing. Actually I was tired enough back then, maybe because the tramping the day before (plus that morning I went back to the viewpoint). However I can not just sleep and miss the scenery on the trip. Shortly after about an hour and a half of our journey arrived at Lindis Pass. I went down for a while to take a picture.
Following Lindis Valley, we finally arrived at Wanaka. A beautiful little town, probably consists of only 15-20 blocks. But for me who loves calm and simple life, being there was more like like being in a dream town. You can buy and enjoy everything you need as a modern human being, but you also can still feel the peace of a small town. Not to mention the autumn atmosphere that makes the city more colorful.
That day we stayed at Wanaka Lakeview Holiday Park. The campsite location is excellent, located right in front of Lake Wanaka and only three minutes away from the famous Wanaka Tree. That night we went to the supermarket to refill the supply for the next few days, because of seeing the coin bbq pit near the kitchen at the campsite, then we decided to buy some beef, sausages, and also a bottle of cheap supermarket wine. After shopping, we went straight to the bbq pit, put $ 2 coins, then grilled the meat and sausages that we bought. We slept really well that night.
As usual, I woke up very early on the next day to take some photograph of the famous "That Wanaka Tree". But I was a really disappointed when I got there because the water is receding so quite far to the lake that the tree wasn't being on the middle of the water but looks like a common tree on the edge of a lake. And the unfortunately (or fortunately?) The sky was very good, dramatic and colorful. Most of the photographers who were there were quite happy to see how the sky changed, but for me it only adds more disappointment, since I can't get a perfect picture there. After taking 1 picture, I went straight back to the RV for breakfast.
After breakfast, I returned behind the wheel to drive to Queenstown. I was told when the RV handover came to Cromwell because the road in Cardrona was too steep. It only adds to the journey time, but we get the reward of fruit shop along the way and the beautiful new autumn I first experienced around Arrowtown to Queenstown.
Arriving in Queenstown, we stayed at Queenstown Lakeview Holiday Park. That was by far the best campsite I've ever visited in New Zealand. Maybe because Queenstown is a really hottest tourist hotspot in South Island, and all must be paid with a high price. On that day I did not take pictures because the afternoon has been spent by Verby and my brothr who did the bungee jumping at Kawarau Bridge, after all I have to rest because a long journey was waiting on the next day.
I was waiting for that day, because that was time to drive from Queenstown to Milford Sound. Since I only focused on the ultimate goal of Milford Sound during my travel planning, I wasn't aware that the scenery through State Highway 94 or so-called Milford Road was amazing. Starting from down the edge of Lake Wakatipu up through some small villages that look very peaceful like Kingston and Garston.
Back in Te Anau, I saw a signpost suggesting us to do the refuel there since there was no gas station along Milford Road, the only one gas station at Milford Sound got only a limited stock (and later i know the fuel was also more expensive). So I filled up the fuel in Te Anau before going on to Fiordland National Park. We paused at the very quiet Henry Creek Campsite for a break and lunch. I mean from very quiet is, there was only one RV and that was our own RV in campsite which was a bit into the woods.
It was my brother's turn to drive after the meal. We continued the journey still on the side of the Te Anau lake. We saw sheeps, hills, meadows, trees with reddish leaves due to autumn like usual. However it all changed instantly as we passed Te Anau Downs. Instantly the trees on the left and right become quite dense and green. The sunlight was obstructed by the dense foliage. In addition, the air feels more humid, it's like entering a tropical rainforest.
The deeper we entered the National Park area, the more amazing the view. Our RV is like going into the gap of huge rocky hill that have dozens of water falling from above, someof them capped with snow. The atmosphere is foggy, rainy, cloudy, but sometimes there is sunlight bursting in. Very dynamic. And the rocky hills with waterfalls was stretched for miles, it was amazing.
After a few stops, we reached the Homer Tunnel, a one lane 1.2-kilometer tunnel, so passing cars had to wait for each other to pass. The mouth of the tunnel is a very large rock formation with a glacier above it, and there were dozens of waterfalls that flow down on its left and right side. A really dramatic view.
After passing through the tunnel, we were greeted with a spectacular view, a winding road down a narrow gap between mountains, clouds were hanging close to the middle. Without hesitation we stopped again, and I immediately took out my camera and tripod to take a picture of the scene in front of me before the light changed. (you've seen the picture on the top of this blog).
While taking pictures, I was suddenly surprised by a group of kea birds that seemed be the reason why all the tourists who stopped there besides the view. Like other parrots, kea birds are smart and you can even play or communicate with them. Some tourist there were taking pictures of them, one of them even play hide and seek with a kea.
I was realized that was about 4 in the afternoon. I rushed off the kea and continue the journey. After 20 minutes, I finally arrived at Milford Sound. At first we planned to check in first, but I did not want to miss the sunset, so I rushed to the parking lot and down to the beach.
This is the unusual beach I've ever been in, because Milford Sound is a fiord (or a sound), a sea inlet that got through deep to the land by the melt of glaciers from the surrounding mountain. Visually, Milford Sound looks like a river between cliffs, but when I taste the water, it tastes salty even though it has been mixed with fresh water coming from a thick layer of melting glaciers.
I tasted water there while waiting 30 seconds exposure of my camera. The sky was pretty good then, the water was receded far enough so that I can freely use some rocks and logs as the foreground in my photo. Not many photos were taken that day since it was very late afternoon and the sun was nearly set, but I am quite satisfied with the results I got.
Finally we checked in at Milford Sound Lodge after I took some photographs. The place was nice and well equipped, the camper's facility was similar to Wanaka but slightly smaller. Special campsite for RV / campervan is in the rainforest area, very interesting. I was planning to use the kitchen to cook, but it was quite crowded. This lodge is the only accomodation in Milford Sound, whereas Milford Sound is one of the main destinations that almost all tourists who come to South Island visit. But the good side, that became a warmth place there, literally.
We woke up in the early morning to catch the first cruise, after parking and buying a Southern Discoveries Cruise ticket, we walked about 5 minutes to the pier. In the terminal building there was an infographic history of Milford Sound from the first discovered to the present day.
After waiting about 15 minutes, the ship was ready and we all aboard. We enjoyed our breakfast while the ship was leaving, we cruised on one of the longest fiord in New Zealand. It took about 30 minutes to reach the the ocean. During the trip, passangers were welcome to go out and enjoy the view from the deck. Equipped with raincoats the passangers went up and enjoy the natural wonders; countless waterfalls came from rain and glacier went down through the enormous rock cliffs, tall snow capped mountains literally by the water, seals, and rainbows. What a scenery.
After reaching the tip of the fiord, we turned back and headed back toward the mainland. Before landing the captain steered the ship toward Stirling Falls, one of the largest waterfalls there. The flow was so enormous that it formed a very beautiful pattern when it collides with the surface below it.
By the ship docking on the terminal, our adventure South Island was officially ended. I drove back to Queenstown that morning. We stopped at some places thet missed on the day before (Gunn Lake and MIrror). We stayed overnight in Queenstown and flew back to Auckland the next day. We actually continued our journey by visiting some tourist attractions on the North Island. But I feel the adventure has ended since we travel with a 4 door sedan, eat at restaurants, and stay with Airbnb. In fact I did not take any pictures because the ones visited were tourist spots like Rotorua, Hobitton, and some beaches near Auckland.