Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Australia & the Pacific
Reload this Page >

New Zealand South Island SPLENDOR: Celebrating 25th Anniversary Surrounded by RIBBONS OF WATERFALLS!!! Feb. 2007

New Zealand South Island SPLENDOR: Celebrating 25th Anniversary Surrounded by RIBBONS OF WATERFALLS!!! Feb. 2007

Mar 1st, 2007, 11:01 PM
  #61  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 3,254
To Be Continued
Melissa5 is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2007, 07:04 AM
  #62  
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 783
Melissa5

You are very kind to deligently answer every question.

Each of your description conjures up an image !
okoshi2002 is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2007, 03:19 PM
  #63  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 3,254
okoshi2002, it's a pleasure to answer your questions. I guess I am conjuring up for you the images that are in my head! Wonderful memories.

TE ANAU: How many nights?

I recommend you spend 3 nights in Te Anau, plus add an overnite on Doubtful Sound if you desire.

We had only 2 nights in Te Anau, and wished we had 3. We also had the overnite on Doubtful Sound.

Te Anau is the closest town to Milford and Doubtful Sounds, and it is a small, user-friendly town, great as a base.

If you have 3 nights in Te Anau, that gives you 2 full days, and this is how I would recommend you use them:

--Spend 1 day driving down Milford Rd. and doing the short scenic stops such as the Mirror Lakes, and doing the short boat trip on Milford Sound. Don't let any rain stop you! Fiordland is even more beautiful in the rain, which sends waterfalls plunging down the vertical cliffs that rise up for thousands of feet into the sky, and when you think you can see the top of the cliffs, you realize that is just a cloud up there, the cloud is covering the very top of the cliffs! >< Awesome! The waterfalls in the rain and mist look like ladders up to heaven. You can see sights like this from Milford Rd. and also on Milford Sound.

--Spend your 2nd day as a hiking or walking day. Pack a picnic lunch. You can buy great pre-wrapped sandwiches in the morning in Te Anau either from the market or from a small cafe. Drive down Milford Rd. again...it is so beautiful you can't get enough of this drive. Stop at the beginning/end of the Routeburn track at the Divide. Hike as far as you wish on the beautiful rainforest trail. Hike up to Key Summit for the view if you can. Return to your car when you are tired, and if it is near dinner time, drive down to Milford Sound and have dinner at the Blue Duck Cafe and Bar which is open til 8:00 pm in summer. Then return to your hotel in Te Anau.

There are so many scenic stops and walks from Milford Rd. that you cannot possibly do them all in one day.

Milford Sound vs. Doubtful Sound

Which is better, Milford or Doubtful Sound? I think they are both magnificent! I think you should spend 4 nights in Fiordland and do both!!

Keep in mind that Fiordland is a very rainy area. I believe it rains about half of the days of the year. Don't let that rain scare you. It creates magnificent waterfalls and a misty magical atmosphere. Or maybe you will get a beautiful sunny day; fewer waterfalls but still amazing, the sun gleaming on the water.

We did the Milford Sound short boat trip 22 years ago and I will always treasure the memory. We did the Doubtful Sound overnite with RealJourneys in February 2007 for our 25th anniversary. You cannot compare the experiences as an overnite on the remote Doubtful Sound is very special and full of magical moments...you get to see the changing light on the water from afternoon to evening to morning. The glacial mountains of Doubtful Sound aren't quite as high as Milford, but it has its own special magic.

If you only have time for one fijord, I think they are both great choices. But I would try to avoid the peak tour-bus crowds at Milford Sound...I would try to do the short boat trip in either morning or late afternoon when it is less crowded. Or choose the overnite on Doubtful Sound...if it's a special occasion splurge for the twin cabin.

There isn't a road to Doubtful Sound, so its remoteness protects it from any crowds. To get there you have to take a boat over Lake Manapouri, then a bus ride through a beautiful forested area, then you board a boat on Doubtful Sound.
Melissa5 is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2007, 03:47 PM
  #64  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 3,254
<Onwards to Glenorchy, Paradise, Mt. Cook and West Coast, Coming Up Next

I notice my trip report seems to linger in Fiordland, as if I left my heart in Fiordland! I think we did. We are already talking about returning to New Zealand for a third visit someday. And Fiordland will once again be on the list as it is a soulful place.

I left out some details about Glenorchy and Paradise (near Queenstown), and that will be coming up next. Then I will finish up with Mt. Cook and the west coast. Plus scenic drives, and some travel tips.

To Be Continued...
Melissa5 is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2007, 04:17 PM
  #65  
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 783
The last Realjourney day cruise on Milford Sound seems leave around 145Pm, whereas Redboats have one leaving at 3 and 345PM.

Is 3 or 345PM too late- will it be too dark and chilly ?Or is this a good time- no crowds ?
okoshi2002 is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2007, 04:26 PM
  #66  
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 783
Actually I see that there are 2 and 3PM departure on Realjourney on the Scenic boats rides.

I am thinking the smaller boats might be even better.Any thoughts ? Have you heard about the Redboats ?
okoshi2002 is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2007, 04:27 PM
  #67  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 3,254
okoshi2002, we were in Fiordland in late summer and 3:00 or 3:45 would have been a perfect time to take the boat on Milford Sound. I am not sure how much the weather changes between February and March. But I am guessing that one of those last 2 boats would be a great choice, especially if you are staying in Te Anau. If you are staying in Te Anau, after you get off the boat, it's about a 2 or 2 1/2 hour drive back to Te Anau (without any stops). Also, you would have the option of having dinner first at the Blue Duck on Milford Sound if you preferred before driving back to Te Anau, if it is still open that late in March. (In February the Blue Duck was open til 8:00 pm.)

But if you are staying in Queenstown, that would be a long drive after you got off the boat after your Milford Sound cruise. So I hope you are staying in Te Anau?

I think you can also wait until you get to Milford Sound if you want and book on the spot. (But you MUST book in advance when you are doing the overnite on Doubtful Sound though.)

I am excited for you! You will love Fiordland!
Melissa5 is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2007, 11:31 PM
  #68  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 3,254
okoshi2002, I don't remember which kind of boat we took on Milford Sound as it was 22 years ago, and we did Doubtful Sound on this trip. But I have read a lot of people's recent trip reports and many people mentioned preferring smaller boats on Milford Sound because they can get closer to the waterfalls and because there are fewer people so it's a bit more of an intimate feel...

My Rough Guide says Red Boat Cruises, Real Journeys, and Mitre Peak cruises. It says that Mitre Peak cruises offers something more personal than the big cruises, takes up to 75 people on the boat, and regularly goes out beyond the mouth of the fijord. www.mitrepeak.com I am only looking in the guidebook here which I have handy...as I mentioned I don't remember which kind of boat we used on Milford Sound. I know you will have a beautiful experience whichever one you choose!
Melissa5 is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2007, 11:33 PM
  #69  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 3,254
Trip Report to be continued...
Melissa5 is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2007, 01:05 AM
  #70  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 236
Okoshi2002 - Both large and small boats are good. We went on real journeys Milford Monarch(large boat) but because we went on the 3 pm cruise there were only 20 of us on that boat.The boat can carry around 400 passengers.The boat went very close to one large waterfall.

The smaller boat was leaving from the berth next to us, also with few people but because it was smaller there was not as much space.

Obviously the middle of the day cruises will be busier than the 9 am or 3 pm ones.

see my tip report on this forum

Mellissa - am popping in now and again to see how yoyr report is going

angelnot1 is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2007, 08:23 AM
  #71  
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 783
Hi -do all the cruises boats go out to Tasman Sea and back in ? It must be breath-taking to see the Sound, as it opens up.

MitrePeak specifically says they go out.

Melissa5- yes we are stay at the Explorer Lodge in TeAnua. I thought we could pack a picnic lunch for the drive to Milford.

Is the Blue Duck right in Milford ? I understand there are few eateries between TeAnau and Milford ?Will the restaurants in TeAnau be open if we got back by 7 or 8 PM ?


okoshi2002 is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2007, 08:30 AM
  #72  
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 783
angelnot1

I just read your trip report- because you have teenagers as I do , I found your comments very insightful !

I didn't quite follow the Dart River portion of your trip- your girls did a horseback trip and others did a boat ride ?
okoshi2002 is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2007, 11:32 AM
  #73  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 3,254
angelnot1: Thanks for popping in! I posted my first question on the Poland forum. Am only just starting to plan the September 2008 Eastern Europe trip. Have a lot more research to do and a lot more questions!

okoshi2002, yes the Blue Duck is right in Milford, you can't miss it. We weren't sure if the Te Anau restaurants would still be open so we ate at the Blue Duck. I would plan ahead if you want to eat in Te Anau and ask in town what town the restaurants/cafes close at night.

Good idea to take the picnic lunch with you on Milford Rd. There isn't anyplace to eat between Te Anau and the Blue Duck in Milford Sound...not that we saw anyway. There were a couple of toilets and also a picnic table near some water and sand flies (they mainly hung around our shoes but we had our pants tucked into our socks so we didn't get bit. They also hang around your hands so we had bug-spray on the back of our hands but not on the palms. Then you have to be careful NOT to suck on your finger!! We also wore long-sleeved light-weight tops which really help with the bugs...ones that lay flat at the wrist. I found some nice long-sleeved light-weight women's t-shirts at Talbots. My husband gets is hiking shirts on-line...I forget the web-site, I can ask if anyone is interested. they are ventilated and a good price on-line.

okoshi2002, I think I would ask if the boat goes out to the Tasman sea and also how long the cruise is. I notice some of the cruises are longer than others. Also I think it is weather-dependent as far as whether they can go out to the Tasman Sea...But I think you are right, it is nice to be able to go out. We went out on our Doubtful Sound overnite and it was fun...we saw NZ fur seals on a little rocky island with their pups.

Are you travelling with teenagers, okoshi2002? When our kids were teenagers we took them to Italy and it was fanatastic! When we took them to Ireland they were college-age. It is interesting to get the youthful perspective. Making sure they each had their own bed was one of the ways we kept the peace. They also had their own room once they got to be teenagers on vacation...I mean the 3 teens in one room...and my husband and I got more peace in our room that way!

One thing I remember is that our teens didn't like site-seeing from the car. In the car, no matter how beautiful the scenery, they put on their headsets and zoned out. They were always bored in the car. They only liked the scenery if they could interact with it...you know, walk around in it, touch it, smell it...They also enjoy towns and culture and new foods.

So when I planned a trip with them, it was better to have fewer stops, and to make sure they had something to do in the car.

okoshi2002, I'm glad you're staying in Te Anau as that is a great base, the small town that is the closest to the fijords.

Trip Report To Be Continued
Melissa5 is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2007, 08:27 PM
  #74  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 107
Hi Melissa. I'm really enjoying your trip report. My husband and I had a wonderful 25th anniversary trip to NZ in October last year. I'm meeting him in Invercargill this coming Sunday as he will be working there. We are then off to Te Anau for 2 nights(staying at The Croft) and doing the daytime Doubtful Sound cruise. We have been on Milford Sound on a previous trip. From there we are driving via Wanaka for 1 night to Fox Glacier and after 1 night there on to Punakaiki for 2 nights staying at a lovely looking house called Flax Haven. It will be a short but sweet trip. I can't get enough of those wonderful mountain vistas - we are a bit lacking in that department here in Australia.
ishki is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2007, 10:26 PM
  #75  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 236
okoshi 2002 -to clarify re rides in Glenorchy: my girls went on the Lord of the Rings horse ride while my husband and I went on the wild river ride
angelnot1 is offline  
Mar 4th, 2007, 10:41 PM
  #76  
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 783
angelnot1-it sounds like the horse ride was a nice outing for the girls. The Dart Stables description say the trip starts in Queenstown ? They must get transported to Glenorchy.
We thought we might let our 17 year old daughter
and her friend go off on their own to do this. Does that sound reasonable ?

Melissa5- one reason we are making this trip to south island is to see Otago University which our daughter is interested in attending next year. We couldn't see all the major schools- decided to focus on Dunedin, though Wellington and Christchurch seem to have nice campuses also.
okoshi2002 is offline  
Mar 5th, 2007, 12:27 PM
  #77  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 236
I missed the information about transporting from Queenstown to Glenorchy. I would have no hesitation in letting the girls go riding there.
angelnot1 is offline  
Mar 5th, 2007, 03:11 PM
  #78  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 3,254
Glenorchy And Paradise:

From busy Queenstown, it is only a 40-minute drive to tiny and peaceful Glenorchy, at the head of Lake Wakatipu. Peter Jackson filmed parts of the Lord Of The Rings (LOTR) movies in this scenic area. The drive was wonderful, with mountain, lake, and forest vista!

Just 30 minutes past Glenorchy is the Routeburn shelter, where you can park and hike part of the Routeburn track, through verdant rainforest. Listen to the song of the river, and the native birds. This is the magic walk that drew us in, calling me to challenge my endurance, and I ended up walking an unanticipated 8 miles round trip! This is the walk that inspired us to return someday and tackle the 5-day Milford track walk. (Note: You can walk in either direction on the Routeburn track, so it makes a nice day-hike. But for the Milford Track, you can only walk in one direction, therefore you must do the whole 5 days, and you book your beds in advance and must register for the hike.)

I was so tired that I had to concentrate on not stumbling towards the end of our Routeburn day-hike, but I felt very peaceful and satisfied... okay, I also felt a bit foot-sore and cranky and hungry! I began to see the wisdom of those serious hikers like the Swiss who were hiking using walking poles, which looked like they would be very useful for down-hill hikes when your ankles are weary and your knees are tired. My husband says those walking poles are collapsible...I want some for next time! I LOVED hiking the Routeburn track. >< My husband and I enjoyed some bonding time, surrounded by nature's peace and beauty. I started out full of energy and ended up weary, but came away with long-lasting memories and feelings of deep satisfaction.

Only 26 km from Glenorchy and about 30 minutes from the Routeburn track is Kinloch Lodge, which has a supremely peaceful location by the lake. We had called ahead to make a dinner reservation to eat at Kinloch Lodge, and were grateful to head there after our 8-mile walk on the Routeburn track. There are very few dining choices in this area.
Melissa5 is offline  
Mar 5th, 2007, 03:17 PM
  #79  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 3,254
Kinloch Lodge Dinner:

Kinloch Lodge
862 Kinloch Rd.
www.kinlochlodge.co.nz

Kinloch Lodge (26 km from Glenorchy) looks like a good choice for lodging if you want a peaceful retreat. We were only there for dinner.

Their restaurant has excellent food. There was some confusion about our dinner reservation. Apparently their 3-course dinners need to be pre-ordered, a fact that we hadn't understood. But we were offered a table and invited to order from the bar menu. We both had excellent lasagna! The 3-course dinners looked excellent and gourmet that I saw other diners ordering. It was very quiet in the small restaurant, which was full. Apparently guests at Kinloch Lodge prefer peace and quiet and don't socialize at dinner.

Remember if you stay here, you are isolated in a natural area, about an hour's drive from Queenstown. This is a good spot to stay if you want to do hikes nearby...there are several trail heads nearby.

Paradise:

After dinner there was still a little daylight remaining, an advantage of summer travel in NZ. We decided to drive to Paradise. It was a gorgeous drive and we kept thinking we saw the snowy mountain up ahead where Peter Jackson filmed a scene from LOTR. However we ran out of daylight and had to turn around and head back to Queenstown. We like to joke, we were almost IN Paradise!

Goodbye Queenstown

Queenstown was an excellent base for a 3-night stay, with easy accessibility to wonderful shopping and dining choices and activities in town, and peaceful nature just a short scenic drive away towards Glenorchy and Paradise. Hiking opportunities on trails like the Routeburn, just a 1-hour drive from Queenstown to trail head.

We will definitely return to Queenstown on the next visit. We were very comfortable at the Villa del Lago apartment, a 20-minute walk outside of Queenstown town centre.
Melissa5 is offline  
Mar 5th, 2007, 03:31 PM
  #80  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 3,254
Mt. Cook:

Mt. Cook was one of my trip highlights on my 1st and second trips to NZ. I love mountains; they send my soul soaring to new heights.

We had fair weather in spring our 1st trip to Mt. Cook, 22 years ago...it was a little overcast but with decent visibility, 22 years ago. We had perfect weather on this second trip to Mt. Cook, February 2007, end of summer in New Zealand, with perfect visibility of Mt. Cook.

The drive from Queenstown to Mt. Cook is outstanding on a clear day. Mt. Cook, rugged and dark and decorated with white snow and glaciers, beckons you closer. It steals your heart away.

When you reach the end of the road, Mt. Cook village is tiny. In bad weather there would be nothing to do. In good weather you cannot peal your eyes off majestic Mt. Cook.

We highly recommend a stay of 1 or 2 nights at Aoraki/Mt. Cook Alpine Lodge.
www.aorakialpinelodge.co.nz
Imagine a basic and clean room at a cozy mountain lodge. Now, add a gorgeous view of Mt. Cook from your room upstairs for $165 NZ. We could even see starlight through the glass at night (on a clear night.) This lodge is independently and locally owned...it is totally separate from the Hermitage hotel. (Don't confuse this lodge with the Aoraki wing of the expensive Hermitage hotel.)

You can use the communal kitchen at Aoraki/Mt. Cook Alpine Lodge to cook if you want. There is a lounge with a big glass window and deck for viewing Mt. Cook by day and the stars on a clear night.

If you stay at the nearby Hermitage hotel you are going to pay $800 NZ for a room with a view of Mt. Cook!!!

The Old Mountaineers' Cafe, Bar & Restaurant

www.mtcook.com (Web-site for the Old Mountaineers Cafe and the Southern Alps Guiding

Just a few steps away from our lodge is the visitor's center and The Old Mountaineers' Cafe, Bar & Restaurant, a casual eatery with a big glass window and beautiful mountain view. Friendly place with good food and moderate prices. We enjoyed dinner here, better than expected. We were disappointed that we couldn't have breakfast here as they don't open til 11:00 am and we had a long drive next morning and an early start time.

Breakfast on Mt. Cook

We chose the continental breakfast at the nearby Hermitage hotel, which is about $15 NZ for a cold breakfast bar which has a lot of choices but none of them stand out...just average quality and overpriced. Also there wasn't a hostess so no one greeted us and no one seated us. We asked a passing employee whether we should eat first or pay first. The young woman looked me up and down in a most rude manner, paused, and then declared “Pay first!” I got the distinct feeling that if I had been wearing an expensive suit and high heals, and carrying a designer purse, she would have treated me differently! The employees at the Hermitage hotel continental breakfast buffet ranged from disinterested to downright rude! Also this was the only bad coffee I had in all of NZ. NOT recommended. Your other choice is to pay even more, $30 NZ, for the hot breakfast buffet at the Hermitage.

There is no place else to eat in the area. The Aoraki/Mt. Cook Alpine Lodge has a small selection of supplies that guests could buy, but we were leaving before the morning milk would be delivered. There is also a hostel somewhere down the road which I heard sells milk.

Missed Scenic Flight:

Our 1 night on Mt. Cook wasn't long enough to take a scenic flight. We had less than 24 hours on Mt. Cook. We would have needed 2 nights to fit in the scenic flight. The frustrating thing was, the weather was perfect for a scenic flight! Well, I guess I'll be back to Mt. Cook on my third trip to NZ. I am posting this info for anyone who has their heart set on a scenic flight on Mt. Cook. (Of course, if you book 2 nights on Mt. Cook, don't blame me if you get bad weather on both days! )

Melissa5 is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 05:56 AM.