The West Coast of the South Island is a very popular destination within New Zealand. Milford Sound is almost always on everyone’s list of destinations when visiting this beautiful country — and rightly so, it’s magnificent!
The last leg of our 6 week trip was to end with epic nature via a boat cruise around Milford Sound, a rugby game in surf city, Dunedin; and a few nights stay within the mountains in Mount Cook Village.
There are plenty of ways to explore the Sounds within the Fiordland National Park, but the most popular choice is to do a boat cruise. We can’t help but to compare our trip this year, with last year’s, but each experience is always going to be different.
If you’ve been an avid reader of ours, then you’ll know we missed out seeing the Milford Sound last year due to a crazy storm brewing out in the water.
Our boat cruise was with Go Orange cruises, but there are so many boats companies to choose from and they all offer pretty much the same service, so I’d definitely research the prices and see what your preference would be.
Depending on the time of the year, you may be lucky to see fur seals and dolphins. My friend who went kayaking there, was completely surrounded by dolphins, which sounded like a dream!
The boat cruise takes about an hour, cruising through Milford Sound until you get to the open ocean. Then you turn around and make your way back, through the same way you came.
Personally we felt that if you can afford to do a flight from Queenstown to see Milford Sound, you’d have a much more enjoyable experience and see the full scale of the sound from the air. We’d especially recommend it if you didn’t get the chance to do a flight in Franz Josef Glacier.
We should mention that access to Milford Sound is extremely limited. There’s literally only one route to the region through the Fiordlands, and no real place to stay when you get there.
If you’re coming from Queenstown, it’s about a 4 hour drive each way. You can make it easier on yourself and either book a coach/cruise/coach tour, or stay halfway in Te Anau and shorten the drives for yourself.
After a couple of nights stay in Te Anau, we headed off east to Dunedin; a trendy University city with a vibrant surf culture. Whilst there, we were invited to see a Highlanders rugby game in a VIP box! Rather embarrassingly we ended up in the wrong corporate box and spent the evening drinking and dining with the owner of the club!
We’re both huge rugby fans, and thoroughly enjoyed getting to see a Super Rugby match in one of the coolest stadiums in New Zealand!
Sadly, we had to sacrifice our time exploring Dunedin city to catch up with a lot of admin work. But our impression of the city was definitely much bigger and better than what we expected! There seems to be a great vibe about the place and could easily be a great option for living, if you’re looking for a more densely populated area.
We did however make a trip to the steepest street in the world, Baldwin Street. It was definitely quite a novelty and not long after we were there, a whole coachload of tourists turned up to have a looksie too!
Mount Cook Village
One of our last stops for our trip around New Zealand was a few nights in Mount Cook Village at the The Hermitage Hotel.
The Hermitage is another awe-inspiring location to stay. With a few unforgettable nights sleeping next to the mountains offering incredible views, it just continued to scream “New Zealand!”
We took a 4WD tour, arranged by the Hermitage Hotel, to explore around Mount Cook Village and learn more about the surrounding areas. Unfortunately the weather was almost fully overcast, so we couldn’t see too much of the mountains, but the actual 4X4 drive was pretty sweet!
Follow our 6 week New Zealand road trip itinerary—including accommodation and activities across the North and South Islands—starting with a flight from Brisbane to Auckland with Air New Zealand.
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