Milford Sound is on a lot of New Zealand bucket lists, but it is one of the most remote places on the South Island. travelers can chose to arrive by plane or boat or even helicopter, but we opted to make the long drive from Queenstown by way of Te Anau.
the drive took much longer than anticipated. partly due to crazy winding mountain roads, but also the fact we had to keep stopping for photos because it was too damn gorgeous. [I've already shared photos from the Mirror Lakes area.] most of what you see in this post comes from the area before and after the Homer Tunnel.
we pulled off on the east end of the Homer Tunnel both going into and coming out of Milford Sound. going in - we were on a race against daylight. we needed to get down to our campsite and set up before dark. the sun was already low and the mountains cast enormous shadows along the valley. and maybe the coolest thing - a tiny cloud tried to follow us as we left.
on the way out of Milford Sound, we had to wait on the west end of the tunnel. cars are only allowed through in one direction at a time, and the timer had maybe 10 minutes left. I decided [not surprisingly] that I wanted to take some pictures. I opened the car door and stood on the step, turning away from the open door to look over the roof of our car. what I did not factor into this plan, is that the road was on an angle. shortly after I turned around, the car door tried to close [thanks, gravity] and slammed into my back. this of course shoved my gut into the doorframe along the top edge of the car. while I curled up in a ball for a few minutes, everyone, including the guys in the car behind us who had seen the whole thing, had a great laugh at my expense.
thankfully I had recovered by the time we made it through the tunnel. it was cold out but we still wanted to explore the area. there were plenty of rocks to climb and waterfalls to gape at, thanks to the heavy rains that had soaked our tent the night before. but the morning sun was bright [then again, the sun is always crazy bright in New Zealand.] Husband climbed on a rock and did some Gollum impressions. when in Middle Earth...
the roads might be icy in winter, but if you're visiting New Zealand in summer I would recommend taking the drive out to Milford Sound. obviously the sound itself is a huge attraction, but there's a lot of beauty along the way you won't want to miss either.