We were driving from Invercargill to Kingston when we saw the sign saying ‘Milford Sound’. It was before noon and we were half an hour from the next house. We could only check in at 4 pm. We still hadn’t decided whether to go and see it or skip it. And then we thought ‘What did we have to lose?’. The weather was beautiful, the kids were being nice and happy, we were fine, the car needed gas, but we could stop in Te Anau and fuel it up.
A spontaneous trip from Queenstown to Milford Sound (NZ), with kids
We checked the map: it would take us 2,5 hours to get there. Fine by us.
The drive from Queenstown to Te Anau
After around 40 minutes, a bird hit us. Gosh, it was awful. Poor little bird. I felt my stomach knotting all the way. When we stopped at Te Anau, I was feeling really bad, we needed to hurry, eat something and buy something for the next day’s breakfast and that night’s dinner. The first place we tried to enter was a pub, and there was no takeaway. The second had pies and sausage rolls, but it was a hunters place, full of deer heads all around, photos of sports hunting and all that and I still had the poor bird on my head.
I chose the only vegetarian option, a spinach and feta roll, and we left as fast as we could. Luckily, there was a supermarket nearby and we bought some bread, milk and whatever else I can’t remember.
From Te Anau to Milford Sound
So we drove the remaining 2 hours through what’s said one of the most scenic drives in the world. I must say: it IS beautiful. So incredibly beautiful it’s hard to think about anything else. There are tunnels made out of trees, bushes, natural vegetation, with its tall golden grass, rivers, lakes, mountains, and waterfalls. Even the rain that started pouring halfway there wasn’t enough to spoil it.
And we were all amazed by the drive when we reached Milford Sound.
Milford Sound in all its glory – or not
It was foggy enough so that we could barely see the mountains. It was raining enough so we couldn’t walk around freely. The tide was low enough so we couldn’t see the water at all. There were tiny super annoying bugs that kept flying around us, finding their way inside people’s eyes, noses, mouths, and ears. And it smelt like a fish. Coral kept freaking out about the bugs, the boys were having fun with the bugs for a while but even they had enough. Angelo had a bug under his eyelid and it got his eye irritated for a few hours afterward.
It was still pretty, you know, the mountains and the fog, they do make quite a combo. But it was definitely NOT what we see in people’s photos. I’d say it was unrecognizable.
We spent less than an hour there and we’ve had enough. On the drive back, we weren’t all in the same mood we were when we decided to go.
So, right before the creepy tunnel, we were stopped waiting for the green light and a kea came near the car. Angelo opened the window a bit to take a photo. The kea walked around the car and flew up to the windshield. And I recorded this little video for all of you to see how our interaction went. By the way, we aren’t allowed to feed it, so we didn’t.
After it flew up to the top of the car, another kea came to the side mirror. It was super fun. The first kea, the one on top of the car, kept walking around, poking its head down on one window or another and cheering us up.
It was great. The drive was worth it for the keas only.
This is not to mention that we saw 2 wekas, too. One right in front of us, at Milford Sound, not minding us a bit, and the other crossing the road while we were being entertained by the keas.
After that, we stopped by the Mirror Lake to enjoy the sunset and it was lovely. Super cold, but a sight we aren’t going to forget.
The last 90 minutes of the trip to Kingston felt super long because everything went dark, but we still loved it. No regrets here.
On the way from Te Anau to Milford Sound (or the other way around), there are many places where keas live, many of them have places where we can stop and try to find a few of them. It’s pretty great. And hopefully, you’ll get to see Milford Sound at its best. There are boat trips, trips in glass top buses, but we didn’t do any of them.
And our little video!