Posts Tagged With: bus tour

Misty Milford Sound

The drive to Milford Sound started too early, but I’m glad we didn’t have to skip this incredible place!  It’s probably one of the most remote places on the South Island, or the world for that matter, but it is a huge tourist attraction.  We were about to see why.  We drove along lake Wakatipu for most of the morning, before turning off and heading to Te Anau where we got to grab some stuff for lunch from the supermarket, along with some snacks and treats ad the last WiFi (gasp) before heading over the mountain pass to Milford Sound.

The drive through Fiordland National Park would take us through some serious Sound of Music territory, with snowy-capped mountains, misty waterfalls and lush greenery at every turn. We worked our way through the valley to the Homer Tunnel, stopping for spoke very aptly named Mirror Lakes, two small lakes that reflected the mountains above perfectly in their waters.  Then we started to see some real snow outside, and prepared to go through the Homer Tunnel, a 1.2 km long tunnel that connects Milford Sound to the outside world.  We made it through the darkness of the tunnel without mishap and were greeted with more snowy mountain views and waterfalls as we drove in the rain to our next destination: the Milford Sound Nature Cruise!  We got to actually go out on the water in this gorgeous tour boat and see the natural wonders of the area that make it so famous!  Unfortunately Mitre’s Peak was obscured by clouds, but we did get to see tons of waterfalls that only form when it rains, so I GUESS there was a plus to all the rain we had 😦

I wasn’t too happy on the boat after an hour, we reached the ocean and weren’t sheltered by the sound anymore, but quickly turned around again and had some penguin sightings, no dolphin sightings, though!  Lunch was on the boat, and we were ready after a long day of travelling and sightseeing to go back to our accommodations and settle in for our last night.  We had a few free hours to hang out and explore in the rain if we wanted to (not), and then got dinner at the ONLY restaurant in Milford Sound, which is not really a town so nobody actually is a permanent resident in it, besides the people who work and make a living there. Talk about remote!  That didn’t stop dinner from being excellent, however, and we were all very satisfied but found ourselves with nothing to do when we got back to our accommodations! There was a big cosy common room, so we did eventually find some games to play and enough to do until bedtime.  It kind of sucked that we couldn’t go out and celebrate on our last night or even have a glass of wine, but I wasn’t exactly in party mode at this point, I was so close to being back in Canada it was hard to stay in the moment and keep enjoying my last few days abroad! And besides. I won at Scattergories. Who needs booze? 😛

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Categories: New Zealand | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Horseback in Queenstown

Luckily I was on the afternoon shift for the horse ride, which meant I had all morning to explore Queenstown!  I walked around the downtown, got myself a yummy Fergburger for lunch, and shopped for trinkets. I boarded the shuttle bus to Dart Stables with my friends Paula and Caroline, we were ready for an adventure.  The drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy (about 45 min away) was one of the most breathtaking drives I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing in my life.  Even though I was bumping along in a bus, I still managed to get some great pictures!  We arrived in Glenorchy, and got suited up to go horseback riding in sweet oilskin coats.  The town is tiny, we rode through it after getting on our gorgeous horses.  Mine was named Ginger, he was a bit feisty and kept nipping the butt of the horse in front of me!  He also wanted to stop and eat everything on the path. But most horses to do that.  Lol.

We embarked on our epic riverside ride, and spent the next two hours learning about the different movies that had been filmed using these very same horses.  We took in the amazing scenery and even got to trot along the path!  The horseback crew at Dart Stables also stopped at a particularly scenic spot and took pics of all of us, which was nice!  I loved the ride, the view of the mountains and surrounding area was unbeatable, It will be burned into my memory forever.  I especially liked when we got to wade through the river on horseback, although the horses hated it!

When I got back there was barely time to freshen up and get the horse smell from me and get to dinner, which was at a steakhouse nearby.  We had a fun dinner, comparing stories about all of our activities that had happened during the day (there were over 15 activities to choose from!) and eating our delicious food.  There wasn’t much time for anything else that night, we had to get up at some ridiculous hour to get on our way to Milford Sound, there were only two days left of the tour!

Categories: New Zealand | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Climbing Mount Doom in Tongariro

Our mountain lodge in Tongariro National Park reminded me of a sweet old school Canadian Ski lodge – lots of fake wood and fireplaces, a great base point for all of our adventures that day.  I opted out of the longest (8 hour!) hike and instead decided to do the six-hour Tama lakes hike with a handful of friends from the tour.  It felt like we were setting off on an epic adventure together – LOTR style, baby!  The hike started out easy at first, we were walking across plains and some foresty areas, and even saw a sweet waterfall.

We walked and walked and WALKED, to the lower lake and sat for a while enjoying the view.  Since we were already near the top, we decided it was worth the extra 45 minutes to the top lake, which didn’t look that far away. It ended up being pretty tough going near the top, the gravel pathway was rocky and for every two steps we went forward we took one back.  I actually felt like I was climbing up mount doom, hobbit style.  Luckily we were better equipped than Sam and Frodo and had packed lunches to eat at the top, enjoying the spectacular view of the countryside around us, mount doom and the two Tama lakes.
The climb down was a lot easier, albeit still super long.  We walked through the forested area under the mountain on the way back, along the river, chatting and laughing and wondering if we would ever get back to the chalet.  Finally it came into sight, still an hour away but we made it back in the end.  I found the sauna that afternoon, and sat with my friend Anna for a looong time soothing our sore muscles.  I was super tired and after my long shower and a delicious BBQ dinner I needed my bed in a serious way.  We were off to Wellington the next morning bright and early!
Categories: New Zealand | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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