So far my trip in New Zealand 🇳🇿 brought me to Auckland, spent a few days in Wellington and a road trip in North Island that I detailed in part 1 and part 2. I crossed with a ferry to join the South Island, took a long bus 🚌😅 to reach the first town that I will be visiting: Christchurch. One thing for sure, South Island has a different landscape and scenery. It is the New Zealand you can see on travel magazines or those pictures trying to sell you a trip to this far away land. I love South Island more than North Island already! 😍😍 So after a speedy visit in Christchurch, I jumped on a plane direction Queenstown! ⛰ I hired a car from Jucy (again) and picked it up at the airport and the road trip in South Island begins! 🚙💨
Day 1 From Queenstown to Te Anau
There is a lot of stuff to be done in Queenstown but I decided not to stick around and drove away! 🚙💨 I will be back at the end of this road trip anyway! 😉 So, 2 hours later, I reached Te Anau which is the gateway to Fiordland and closest city to Milford Sound. But that’s not what I have planned for the day – not yet. As I reached Te Anau around 2pm, I decided to walk in the afternoon and head to Kepler Track.
It is a great walk to be done and not far from Te Anau, a 60km loop which can be done in a few days with overnight in huts (to be booked beforehand). I have not walked the whole thing (obviously 😅) but just a little part of it up to Lake Manapouri. Well, that’s what I thought but it wasn’t the lake! 🙃 I reached a great viewpoint after 1.5 hour walk! 🚶🏻♀️
TIP: make sure that you dress for the occasion. Weather can change quite quickly here! ☔
So, I then went to Lake Manapouri since I did not really see it from the Kepler track! But I actually enjoyed this view more! The weather was really bad, grey, cloudy and raining ☔! But what a beautiful view I had! 😍
Te Anau is a small town but with a (surprisingly) big supermarket, a cinema, restaurants, cafés and bars. Its lake is the largest lake in the whole South Island so you won’t be able to miss it! Lake Te Anau is 344 square kilometres (yes, kilometres!) and on a misty day, it gives you the feeling of being at Milford Sound… or Scotland 😂. Check out those pictures, and you will understand what I mean by that. 😍😍
End of Day 1 and check out this vlog right here!!
Day 2 Milford Sound
Te Anau is the gateway to Milford Sound or Fiordland I should say. The biggest attraction is getting to Milford Sound and experience its true nature, either cruising or kayaking on it 🛥. You can drive there, park for the day and return to Te Anau, but consider a good 2 hours each way. There will be loads of stop on the way for your to rest.
You can also stay overnight at the Milford Sound Lodge but booking well in advanced is highly recommended!
I booked a day Safari (journey Te Anau to Milford and 3 hours kayaking) with a Te Anau’s local company called Roscos. I got picked up (bright and early at 6.45am) from my accommodation and we drove to Milford straight away (avoiding tourists buses on the road). We were just 4 people including the guide which was great! We had a few stops on the way and he shared lots of interesting facts too! 😁 That’s what you get when you do such activities. It does have a cost though: NZD190 (€111/£97/$137) with local pickups but no lunch included!
We stopped at the Mirror Lakes on the way, it takes around 1.3 hour to get there from Te Anau and it is a beautiful place! It is nicely done in a way that you enter from one side and exit a bit further, walking along the lakes. Very peaceful early morning! 😍
On the way back, we stopped right before entering the Homer Tunnel (there is a large platform where you can easy park when driving towards Te Anau). We also stopped at the Mackay Falls! 💦
Kayak vs. Cruise
As I said earlier, Milford Sound is a very popular place and a tourist attraction. You’ll see loads of companies online or at the airport, hotels, in towns, offering their ‘own Milford Sound experience’ 🤓. Most of them will offer scenic cruises on the sound for different kind of pricing. If that’s what you prefer, you can get real cheap cruises (I found some for NZD30!!! which is €15/£18/$221!) that will take you up and down for 1 hour 40 min and I am sure that this will be great! 😁
The Milford Mariner offers overnight cruises but this is a real budget and planning to do! They are usually booked out and you should book way early in advance to be able to stay there. One thing that people told me was that if you get a real clear sky, the advantage on staying overnight is star gazing. If it is cloudy, well you are just staying on a boat for over NZD600 (€353/£308/$432) ! 🤯😲
I thoroughly enjoyed kayaking in Milford Sound. It lasted for a bit more than 3 hours and if you never kayaked before, don’t worry about it! Your guide will tell you all about it and that’s not complicated or tiring. The experience is really cool and in specific time of the year, you can spot dolphins swimming right next to you! I went in autumn and could see a lovely sea lion having a bath right next to my kayak!!! 😁😁😁
Good to know: Milford Sound is actually not a sound but a fjord! 🤓 🤯 and Fiordland should be written Fjordland, with a J, but they misspelled it! 🤦🏻♀️
If you haven’t packed your lunch with you, you can get something to eat at the Milford Sound Information Center. If you don’t want to, go there anyway! You’ll be able to do a short walk that starts next to the parking, just follow the signs. It is called the Milford Sound Lookout track and it will take you just 20min to complete this walk. Don’t miss it! 😉
End of Day 2 and check out this vlog right here!!
Day 3 From Te Anau to Wanaka
I leave Te Anau and therefore the Te Anau Kiwi Lakeview holiday park I was staying in (for NZD50 a night or €29/£26/$36) and set my GPS system to the city of Wanaka. I make sure that I will via the town of Cardrona for the best scenery possible! 😉
People were right! Going via Cardrona is more hilly and with curvy roads but the views are amazing! Make sure you stop at the lookouts to enjoy them! 😍
Wanaka is a cute small town and you will find everything you need here. Coffee places, bars, restaurants but also supermarkets and so on. You’ll find also lots of companies promoting activities like helicopter rides, trekking and so many day trips to fill up your days. I chose to walk around the city, around the lake and check out that Wanaka tree – easy, cheap and what I need to stretch those legs! 😇😉
That Wanaka Tree
This must be the most famous tree 🌳 of New Zealand 🇳🇿 – or the most photographed one and it is quite something to see. So I have done like every one coming to Wanaka. I followed the walk along the lake and went to see that Wanaka tree. A tree in a lake, looking so fragile but yet telling everyone ‘I’m here and I’m staying’! 💪🏻🌳
End of Day 3 and check out this vlog right here!!
Day 4 Hiking in Wanaka
That second day in Wanaka started badly. Large clouds 🌧 and rain!! ☔ I had planned to hike Roys Peak. This track is a New Zealand must do but I would say to be done on a clear day (or about). It is a very steep hike that grants you fantastic views over Wanaka and its lake but also the Southern Alps. Clouds and wind would have made this 6 hour hike very difficult and the views would have been missed. 🌧🌧🌧🌧
So, instead of doing that, I still went hiking but around Wanaka! And I went to Mt Iron which is a nice and easy hike to do. It is a 4.5Km loop with great views on the lake and I am so glad to have done it! Roys Peak would have given me great views but look at these ones!!! 😍😍
Finishing off this hike, I was told to get to the Blue Pools which are not that far from Wanaka. Consider just under an hour drive to get to the parking and the entrance to the track.
It is a very easy walk, less than 20minutes is needed to get to the pools. On a sunny day, this place is just a dream! But since the weather was a bit funny and rainy, the colours was not as beautiful as sold on the brochure 😂🙃😂
End of Day 4 and check out this vlog right here!!
What do you think of this road trip so far?
Let me know in the comments below! ⬇
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