“This is fine country for the waterproof explorer.”

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On the way to Milford Sound
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On the way to Milford Sound
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On the way to Milford Sound

On one our of days in Queenstown, many of us opted to take a bus trip down to Milford Sound and the gorgeous Fiordland area along the southwest edge of the South Island.

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On the way to Milford Sound
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On the way to Milford Sound
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On the way to Milford Sound

Milford Sound is one of the most visited tourist destinations in New Zealand, which is a little shocking considering how far away from everything it is. Did I mention that we got up super early and took a 4.5 hour bus ride down to the Sound? Yeah, that happened. But honestly, it was one of the most beautiful drives I’ve ever seen, and this is after spending roughly 2 weeks in New Zealand at that point. The pictures in this post are all from that drive, or from the stops we got to make along the way.

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Mirror Lakes
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Mirror Lakes
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Baby duck at Mirror Lakes
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Mirror Lakes
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On the way to Milford Sound

Our guide on this drive was a soft-spoken Kiwi gentleman named Barry. Barry knows his stuff. But he also has a very soothing voice, so it was a little hard to stay awake on the first part of the journey. But the extent and depth of Barry’s knowledge about his homeland, its history, flora and fauna was astounding, so my fascination overcame my drowsiness. Oh, and while keeping up a basically non-stop commentary on the journey to the Sound, Barry was also driving the bus in some decently challenging conditions.

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Near Mirror Lakes
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Near Mirror Lakes
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On the way to Milford Sound
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On the way to Milford Sound
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On the way to Milford Sound

The road to the Sound is an impressive feat on its own. But given the mountains and high precipitation, it’s common for avalanches to close the road for periods at a time. Many other proposals have been suggested to reach the Sound from Queenstown, but none have yet been implemented. You can fly to Milford Sound, but then you’d miss all the scenery along the way. The drive was long but worth it in good company.

Title quote: Richard Henry, on New Zealand’s Fiordland region, 1896

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On the way to Milford Sound
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On the way to Milford Sound
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On the way to Milford Sound
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This stream was so clear you can drink the glacial water as MW demonstrates
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EM, NP, DH, and EH
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On the way to Milford Sound
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Near Mirror Lakes
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Near Mirror Lakes
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On the way to Milford Sound
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On the way to Milford Sound
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On the way to Milford Sound
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On the way to Milford Sound
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On the way to Milford Sound
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On the way to Milford Sound
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On the way to Milford Sound
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Entry to the tunnel on the way to Milford Sound. The wait time can be as much as 15 minutes. We only had to wait 4.

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