Posts Tagged With: Milford Sound

The Longest Ride of my Life

Our last day on the Topdeck Trip was long and trying, if I can put it lightly.  First of all, we had a lot of ground to cover – the tour usually takes two shorter days to break up the distance between Milford Sound and Christhurch, but since we missed a day when the Haast Pass was closed, we had to hightail it back to the city in one loooong day.  Total hours on the bus? 12.  Total actual hours on the bus by the end of the day? 17.

Let me explain.  We made pretty good time after breakfast and hopping on at 7:30, and were passed Queenstown by lunch.  Our bus broke down on the side of the road at, oh, around 2:30pm.  We head a long “hissssssss”, and pulled over quickly to check out what it was.  Luckily one of our travellers was a trusty mechanic, and could tell what we needed and how to repair the damage. We waited for a mechanic, and it was fun to hang out by the bus for a while, but taking picture and taking in the scenery got boring after a while, and I actually went back on the bus and used some time to type up some blogs I needed to catch up on. Score!  

So we thought the mechanic had fixed the problem, and were back on our merry way when “HISSSSSSS” went the bus, and we had to stop a second time, call the mechanic, etc, and wait again for the bus to be fixed.  After about a four-hour delay, we were told that we would only be using this bus to get to the nearest town and would be picked up in a new bus!  Well.  The new bus was actually a school bus, with barely enough room for all of us to crowd into it with our luggage. The situation went from bad to worse after that with all of us cramped together, we still had about five hours to go on this tiny crappy bus, we were all tired and cranky, and hadn’t eaten for a long time.  We finally stopped at McDonald’s around 9pm and had to deal with greasy-fry smelling bus all the way back to Christchurch, finally arriving around midnight. 

It was very anti-climactic after that to say goodbye to our friends and chat with each other, we were pretty sick of each other by that point!  But we did manage to get some hugs in as we dropped our friends off at various hotels and hostels, I stayed at this cool hostel called the Jailhouse, and was met with a key and warm soft bed that night.  Ugh!  What a ride!  It’s too bad we had to deal with it, but nobody missed their flight, and it was handled well by Topdeck, so I couldn’t ask for much more.

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

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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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

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