" New Zealand Holiday ... 9 . . . Te Anua to Milford Sound "

Date & Time: Wed 9th - Thurs 10th November 2011.

Locations : Wanaka to Te Anau and the State Highway 94 drive to Milford Sound.

Places visited : Kawarau Gorge, Queenstown, Arrowtown, Te Anua, Milford Sound.

Accommodation : Jane & Ross McEwan, The Croft, Te Anau

With : Ann and myself.

Weather : Overcast while travelling and a brilliant blue sky day for Milford Sound.


 " New Zealand 9 - Milford Sound " at EveryTrail

[ Alter the settings to zoom or change the Map, use Everytrail to download the Gps route ]


After motoring up the Matukituki River on the jet boat

it was time for us to motor on under our own steam

travelling towards the fiord lands in the south western area of New Zealand's South Island.

On the road to Cromwell, while passing Lake Dunstan

we notices a slight bump on the road as we crossed over the 45th Parallel . . . who left that there ?

[ By the way, Loweswater is an almost arctic 54 degrees north by comparison ! ]

This makes the central Otago region about as far south, as Belgrade and Bordeaux are north of the equator, hence the ability to sustain vineyards.

The climatic conditions of this more inland and slightly drier region allow the production of fine grapes and therefore fine wines.

Row upon row of grape vines.

Look out for Cromwell, Bannockburn, Bendigo, Wanaka, Lowburn and Wanaka Road winery labels.

Wine tours are on offer if you are staying locally.

A feature of the wine areas, and also of the fruit growing region around Abel Tasman,

were these tall Leylandii hedges which serve as windbreaks to protect the crop.

We round the corner and head west, up the Kawarau River.

The fast flowing river has cut a deep valley here and exposed gold bearing strata along the banks.

( The water jet is there to draw your attention rather than anything else)

Zooming in on some of the old prospectors huts and mines, now preserved as a tourist amenity.

By the way . . . the Gold Rush is long since passed . . . sorry.

Roaring Meg power station on the Kawarau River.

Further up river and we reach a magnificent old suspension bridge . . . and a hive of activity.

This is the famous A.J.Hackett bungee jump site where modern bungee jumping was started in 1988.

So successful has it been that they are totally re-developing the site.

We walked down the spiral walkway to the lower floor and viewing platform.

. . . to watch others throw them selves off
. . . and bob above, touch or dunk themselves
. . . in the fast flowing river below.

If you wish, join the queue and pay your NZ$ 180 to the people at the counter

[see a handy currency converter here ]

No . . . we didn't have a go !

The signpost soon after pointed to Arrowtown, an old gold mining town notable for its heritage buildings.

We were intrigued by the "Lakes District" museum name
. . . the Old Police Station . . .

. . . but not so enamoured by the modern tarmac, traffic and white lines . . . not exactly in keeping with the "heritage image".

We didn't linger long.

The next major tourist hotspot was the Shotover River

famous for its fast action jet boat rides up and down the gorge.

Looking downstream from the road bridge . . .
. . . but we were in between boat rides.

The major tourist centre of West Coast has to be Queenstown.

We passed through on a rather overcast day.

The famous gondola (on the hillside opposite) and 'luge' dry toboggan run are just one of many attractions of the area.

The lake has a famous old steam boat and it is centrally based for activities from the bungee jumps to the Milford Sound coach tour.

We had other plans however . . . so we leave the town to its many tourists and continue on south.

Our destination is Te Anau and our accommodation, The Croft on the Milford Road side of town.

The Blue Room

A delightful and self-contained chalet in the grounds of the Croft bungalow.

A beautiful garden in front of the balcony . . .
. . . on a working sheep small-holding.

. . . almost like the view from home !

- - - o o o - - -

After diner in Te Anau and a good night's rest we awoke to . . .

. . . a beautiful blue sky day !

The farm looks out on Lake Te Anau, the largest of the South Island lakes.

It's Spring in New Zealand and the young lambs are appreciating the fine weather.

Ann gets chance to feed the orphaned lambs . . . farming problems the world over.

In Cumbria, the farmers feed them on milk !

- - - o o o - - -

Our plans today are to travel by road to see Milford Sound.

The visitors based at Queenstown take five hours on the coach just to get there.

Starting at Te Anau, we can take our time, and have all day for the much shorter drive out and back.

Looking up Lake Te Anau towards the high hills of the western fiords.

The boat which takes walkers to the start of the "Milford Track" can be seen just off the next promontory.

The Fiordland Express takes people to the start of the long distance tramp

but you have to book your place as accommodation is limited in the mountain huts along the way.

We drive on up the road and stop at the first signposted beauty spot . . . Mirror Lakes.

This narrow ribbon lake next to the roadside offers remarkable reflections of the snow covered hills.

A walkway serves the masses who pile off the coaches to see the view.

It is rather nice however, and well worth the stop.
In memory of all the coaches parked in the lay-by.

Knob's Flat . . .

A delightful (?) name for a wide, extensive and very flat part of the valley

on the way north as we pass the Earl Mountains.

The next sign-posted viewpoint was described as having a forty five minute walk.

Too long for the coaches to stop . . . but ideal for us . . .

Time for a quick pit-stop . . .
. . . before setting off for the walk to Lake Gunn

Note to self and the LDNPA

New Zealand is brilliant at providing low-tech toilet facilities at every possible tourist location and campsite.

Known as a long-drop toilet, it prevents local pollution and just involves simple cleaning and occasional waste removal by suction lorry.

Why can't we have this sort of thing in the UK national parks ?

- - - o o o - - -

Oh yes . . . where were we . . . ?

. . . on the woodland walk to Lake Gunn
Amazing woodland scenery including this fallen giant.

Suddenly round a bend we came to a clearing . . .

Just twenty minutes after leaving the car we were rewarded with beautiful views of the lake.

Lake Gunn.

A short twenty minute walk back found us back at the car and on our way again.

Forty five minutes for the round trip was pretty accurate.

Pop's View . . . a must-stop place for me as it is the name our grandchildren have given me.

Full marks to the Grand-children for providing such a nice view.

The State Highway 94 appears to have been a job-creation project

dug by navvies in the 1930's using classic pick-and-shovel methods,

accompanied by all the inherent problems of these long term,

low technology projects.


Full marks to those that dedicated time and effort

to create such a wonderful road.

Click here of on the photo for a larger picture and words


Next stop on the tourist route map . . .

The Lake Marian forest track.


We chose the twenty minute option.

Across the river on the swing bridge.

Clear blue waters beneath the bridge.
Th path leads to a board walk . . .
. . . that climbs up alongside a beautiful set of waterfalls.
Relaxing . . . but there's a while to go yet.

The bi-lingual sign says Milford Sound / Piopiotahi . . . 24km.

We worked our way up the valley

marvelling at the lovely snow-capped scenery

until we realised that the valley

was about to end rather abruptly

with a rather large rock wall !

Ahead of us was the entrance to the Homer Tunnel.


- - - o o o - - -

The pass to Milford Sound was discovered in 1898

by a Mr William Homer.

The road up the valley was underway in the 1930's

but work on the tunnel didn't start till 1935.

The difficult conditions and the war years delayed its completion

until 1954.


The road was finally tarmac-surfaced and visitor facilities provided

at Milford Sound in 1992, less than twenty years ago.

The tunnel was unusual in that it started level then suddenly altered its angle to a 1:10 descent within the mountain.

This was a quick picture looking back as we started down the tunnel.

The tunnel is 1270m, 1.27 kilometre long . . .
. . . in its day, the world's longest gravel-surfaced tunnel.

It brings you our into the sunshine at the head of Cleddau River Valley and the famous Milford Sound.


Waterfalls abound

as the rainwater cascades off the hillside.


The fiord was named by a Welsh sealing captain John Grono

after his native homeland of Milford Haven.


The rivers flowing into the Welsh Milford Haven

are the Eastern and Western Cleddau.



Everything that comes around . . . goes around !


Today it is the centre of a thriving tourist industry with a visitor centre, hotel, boat harbour and a small but busy airport.

We park the car and walk over to the harbour . . .

. . . passing the classic view of Mitre Peak along the way.

This is the icon of West Coat New Zealand.

Apart from the debris on the beach at low tide, it certainly lived up to its reputation as a classic mountain view.

The "Juicy Cruise" boat . . . owned by the company that owns the "Juicy car hire" franchise.

The path to the Bowen Falls is closed due to a landslide

so we walk back across the bay to the boardwalk out onto the promontory.

The view is almost magnetic . . . you can't take your eyes off it !

[ Click here or on the picture for a wider panorama ]

Another view from the seat at the head of the spit.

Looking across at the impressive Bowen Falls that we were prevented from seeing in close up.

The river cascades down from Mt Grave (2225m)
The "Real Journeys" boat arrives back.
Close up of the falls . . .
. . . which dwarfs the "Southern Discoveries" cruise boat.

One last view as we turn to go.

Sheerdown Peak (1878m) towers over the hotel and airport (hidden from view).

The sky was busy with light aircraft flights.

The small aircraft is seen against a backdrop of Mitre Peak.

A five hour return coach ride is often fore-shortened by a quick flight back to Queenstown !

The other things that fly in the skies above Milford and the western fiords are the notorious sandfly.

Think Scottish midge with attitude !

On our way back we stopped briefly at The Chasm viewpoint that we had passed on the way down into Milford.

In the car park the famous mountain Kea.
The signs request you do not feed or encourage them.

They are delightfully cheeky and seemingly unafraid of human company

but be warned, they occasionally take an unwelcome interest in loose bits of your motor car !

Why can't I find someone who didn't read the notice about not feeding the Kea ?.

This one strutted back and forth . . . obviously looking for any spare food but looking rather annoyed.

[ Hold your cursor over the photo to see why ]

Our last scenic walk involved a forest, a river and a waterfall . . . again.

The River Cleddau . . .
. . . has carved wonderful shapes in the river bed
. . . as it cascades its way down the hillside
. . . at the bottom of a deep ravine.

Time to go . . . we wait briefly at the lights on the western end of the tunnel.

( The tunnel is wide enough for two cars to pass but not two coaches or two camper vans )

What's on the other side of the tunnel ?

Apart from the drive back and an early evening visit to the fiordland cinema

there's also a rather good food cart in Te Anau that serves a wonderful 'seafood and chips' hamper takeaways for two !

Cheers !


- - - o o o - - -

Technical note: Pictures taken with either Ann's Fuji Finepix T300, my Canon G10 or 1100D digital cameras.

Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.

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