Day 7: Milford Sound – Glenorchy
Okay, the last township as I said was Te Anau. There’s nothing in Milford Sound except parking area, pier, and a café. That’s why some people join package tour from Queenstown or Te Anau. There are three ways to experience Milford Sound. Flying, which is ridiculously expensive for me, a big no obviously, kayaking, surprisingly pretty expensive as well, and cruising, which would be my last choice. I booked the most basic cruise experience with Jucy Cruise for $40. Another affordable cruise company is Go Orange.
Tour started at 8 a.m. Since we still have 55 km to travel from Cascade Creek, we set one and a half hour earlier driving through another windier road with sharper turn. I could only speed up to 60-80 km/h in average. The sky was terribly grey and rain started to pour, what a shame cause unquestionably the view was amazing but we just couldn’t see in that misty morning. I tried to cheer myself up without expecting too much, “Milford Sound looks amazing as well even in rainy days, that’s what I read!”, I convinced my friends.
|Glacier on the way to Milford Sound|
The boat looks similar like the one I boarded during whale-watching in Sydney. Restaurant-alike seating, convenient toilet, and a bench with breakfast prepared for the trip. View decks were along the sides, front, and upper deck. Three of us had our raincoat and camera ready and rushed to upper deck. It’s true that Milford Sound is special on rainy day. The rain creates some new waterfalls, flowing down from the cliff, another magical sight. There’s this moment when the boat moved deeper under the waterfall and those who stood on the deck got showered, splashed, and flooded by the water. Super fun!
Overall, not under the best weather condition, we could’ve seen better view of Milford Sound, those towering peaks, regardless it’s still memorable for me. From Milford Sound we drove back to Te Anau, had a quick stop at Chasm Fall then drove straight to Queenstown however all the holiday parks were booked out. Plan’s changed!
Not so big campground but it feels fresh and homey. It was late when we arrived and everything’s fully booked. Fortunately, the kind lady allowed us to set up our tent on a free space near the park. Facilities were great, laundry, kitchen, paid shower +$2.
Day 8: Glenorchy – Queenstown
It’s not exactly a change of plan, we just swapped the order, Glenorchy first then Queenstown. Doesn’t make any difference, we had to pass Queenstown anyway to get to Glenorchy.I fell in love on my first sight. This is my kind of retirement place that I longed-for, peaceful and surrounded by nature. We headed to the wharf for a refreshing morning walk. Then we did the walkway next to it, a nice short walk with mountains exposed, ah, we met a swarm of black swans! We drove 20 minutes away to see Lord of the Ring movie set then headed to Queenstown.
If Glenorchy sounds like an ideal retirement place for me, then Queenstown would be the place that I wanna settle down right now. Situated next to Lake Wakatipu and home to mountain ranges, The Remarkable, Queenstown is the city where adventure begins. What I like more about Queenstown is the fact that it’s a big city but no skyscraper at all! It looks more like a holiday town with motels, cafes, and shops. Many activities can be done here; sailing, paragliding, mountain biking, hiking, and loads. Try Fergburger if you happen to be in town, famous for its gourmet burger and people line up like crazy!
Just few minutes walk to downtown, good facilities. It was peak season so it’s super busy, in fact it’s the only holiday park that’s not fully-booked on that day. Big, but not enough space between campers. Big kitchen, laundry, shower +$2 for 7 minutes on peak season. Not the best stay and best deal compares to other holiday parks.
Day 9: Ben Lomond Track
I would consider Ben Lomond as the most difficult one day hike that I’ve done during my entire hike in New Zealand. It took us 8 hours to complete but the view was definitely rewarding. First we passed through the pine-tree forest till we got a bit lost near the waterfall. Then, we were in an open area and constantly ascending under the heat.
Half way to the saddle, I could see Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu, and Remarkable Range. I couldn’t stop turning back and marveling the view. The later it was, the more people doing the hike even kids younger than me showed big enthusiasm hiking this not so easy track. Up to the saddle, clearly better view from what we’ve seen before. Eventually on the other side, there’s another range of mountain, the Southern Alps.
The real “track” was just about to begin, enough warming up. Another hour to go to the summit. From the saddle I could tell how torturous the hike would be. The incline was so steep, looking at it would only discourage myself. Slowly but sure I climbed up the rocks. Once in a while I took a break tried to catch my breath. Finally all of us made it up to the summit, what an effort!
Day 10: Queenstown – Wanaka
The scenic drive from Queenstown to Wanaka was quite interesting with brownish hills along the way. That afternoon we did nothing much. Visited the lonely tree but for me it’s a bit overrated. I wasn’t really amazed by Lake Wanaka especially after Tekapo and Pukaki.
A decent campsite not too far from Lake Wanaka, pretty relaxing. Flush toilet available.
To be continued..
Traveled in 27 December 2016-26 January 2017
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