Milford Sound Road Trip

If you talk to anybody who has visited New Zealand, they’re likely to mention something along the lines of Milford Sound being the 8th wonder of the world. Well in January 2018, it was my time to check out this ‘so called’ wonder for myself.

To all intents and purposes, I knew it was going to be a funny trip – the squad we had assembled was of the highest calibre (I’m laughing out loud already). I’m fearing there may be some private jokes come out in the wash throughout this post, but bare with.

I’m going to start with a foreword on the squad and set the scene (not our finest pic, no sleep or showers for 2 days)

Fred – wild adventurer. Half french, half German, but hes not very German. He does turn up on time, but that’s as German as he gets. Avid explorer. Lives life to the full and requires no sleep. 50% of the reason my first year in NZ was so spectacular (the other 50% being the discovery of $5 pizzas – I’m easily pleased)

Alice – loveable and with a heart of pure gold. Has a switch for her brain, it has two modes. Completely on and completely off. Mostly in completely off mode. Inquisitive, asks many questions. Often find herself in the most bizarre of situations without explanation.

Devon – also avid explorer. Easy going, laid back. Often worried if he laid back any more he’d be horizontal. Knows a thing or two about New Zealand. As it transpires doesn’t know a great deal about camping (we’ll come on to this). Drives a car called Little Red (a 23 year old Honda Civic). If the world got destroyed, only cockroaches and Little Red would survive.

The start of the trip was a drive down to Lake Wanaka for me and Devon, where we were to meet Fred and spend 8 hours in hell camp the night. As I have mentioned previously, camping is not my thing. Camp is my thing, camping is not. Reiterating to myself that my time in New Zealand is all about saying yes, I owed it to myself and this wonderful country to give it another go.

After a marvelous sunset on the road, we pulled up and I pitched my tent on the hard ground. I inflated my airbed (yes, we’re glamping now boys and girls) pulled my duvet and feather pillows from out the car and made home for the night. After a few beers and good catch up with Fred, I retired into my sanctuary whilst the others bedded down in the back of their cars – so povo right?

Following an-average-at-best sleep and a morning stroll by the lake, we went onward to Queenstown to collect Alice. We had all decided that this would be a camping trip, but with me being the only one with a tent, we had to try and get the others sorted. At The Warehouse, where there was no camping stuff left, we scratched our heads and tried to come up with a plan. It was at this point Devon came up with the crazy idea of sleeping under Tarpaulin at the back of the car – I was both curious, skeptical and supportive – but it didn’t involve me because, after all, I was glamping.

We drove through the breathtaking scenery round to Milford Sound and we I sang along to Lady Gaga and Britney Spears (I was on the aux) and went for a walk. I will make it clear now that Milford Sound really does deserve the honor of an 8th wonder – it’s truly magical. Karl Pilkington should have visited here. We decided that we would do a boat trip the next day, we discovered a camp site and I excitedly set up camp! Night two – in a tent, go me!

I finally got to see this Tarpaulin mess creation start to come to life. Alice had decided she would sleep in the car. At the time we thought this was wise, but as it transpired this was not wise at all. We’ll get onto that. I can’t say I was convinced about this Tarpaulin. I just had visions of trying to pitch the idea in Dragons Den and an angry Duncan Bannatyne shouting at us for being stupid (well not me, I was clever, I was glamping).

I would love to hear if you’ve ever spent a night, voluntarily, in worse accommodation.

We cooked dinner and basked in absolutely glorious sunshine, music on, car doors open (this is important). As the sun went down and we fought off the viscious sand flies, we retired to our sleeping quarters. Devon and Fred under their tarpaulin mess creation, Alice trapped in a car fall of man eating sand flies and god knows what other insects. All I know is every time I used the torch it was like an episode of Planet Earth, only scarier.

As we slept soundly, I was woken with what felt like Blackpool illuminations in my tent. I jumped up and saw that the hazards on the car were on, Alice having turned them on by accident and unable to turn them off. It was lighting up the entire camp site. It was annoying at first, but then when I saw the sky and the amaazzzing stars, I’m actually glad it all happened. When we all woke up to a misty morning, Devon and Fred were absolutely soaking wet from the tarpaulin dripping on them and Alice bitten to death from the insect-ridden car. I can’t honestly say I was feeling fantastic, it had been a cold and damp night. BUT it was time for our Milford Sound cruise!

I’ll skim over the tour and let the pictures talk. The best thing about it was the free tea and coffee (I think I had 7 cups of tea?). What can I say, I’m British.

The boat took us right into the waterfall!

It was also interesting to see the fault line that’s apparently going to rip New Zealand in half.

We left Milford Sound and had bacon sandwiches at a stop on the way to drop Alice off at home. Before we set up camp for one final night at Moke Lake, did some jumping into Lake Wakatipu (or the Queenstown Lake).

I thoroughly enjoyed this, and did it many times. It was cold but worth the thrill. As it turns out, however, the Lake is full of eels (as are most bodies of fresh water in New Zealand, apparently). Had I have known this at the time, I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it so much, nor will I enjoy any fresh water in New Zealand as much again.

Moke Lake was a super chill evening. BBQ, beers and watching the sun go down. After the kind of failed tarpaulin attempt, Devon and Fred spent the night in their cars and I was in my by now soaking wet/cold/miserable glamorous tent.

It’s true to say I would have much preferred a comfy hotel bed… right up until the moment I opened my tent in the morning and was presented with the most stunning of views. It was at this moment, as I picked my head up from my damp pillow and ran my hand through my damp hair, that all this tenting nonsense made sense and I could see why people do it.

The drive back from Queenstown was, as always, very pretty and we stopped for a fairly huge walk up a mountain for panoramic views of Lindis Pass.

It was treacherous and full of loose rocks, one of which I accidentally dislodged and sent tumbling down the mountain. Unfortunately there was a guy further down the mountain who was right in it’s path. He was French and amable. As I screamed, and I mean screamed, “WATCH OUT WATCH OUT” he didn’t hear me and the rock took him out with an almighty whack. At the bottom, I saw the aftermath and it was a bloody, bruised mess on his lower back. I felt affreux.

There was a final stop at Mt Cook where me and Devon walked the Hooker Valley trail and I had the opportunity to jump in a glacial lake. It was just as cold as it sounds.

With Fred now back in Germany, Devon in the U.K. and Alice being Alice, this post is really an ode to them. Thanks for being you guys and thank you for some wonderful memories. Until next time…

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