Fiordland – Milford and Doubtful Sound

Note: people have been asking if we are in Christchurch at the time of these tragic events. No, we’re not – in real time, we are in New Plymouth, on the North Island. There is usually a considerable lag between blog entries. But thanks for asking.

We have good luck with the weather for a change.

Maria at the taffrail

We arrive in the fiordland region and make Manapouri our base. Just south of Te Anau, but without the crowds.

Doubtful Sound

We luck out once more when we drive the Milford Road. This is 120 KMs or so of white-knuckle driving and eye-popping scenery.

We have no cruise scheduled and are pleasantly surprised to buy tickets for one departing in ten minutes.

Milford Sound

On top of this, the weather is spectacularly sunny and rain-free. It rains a lot in this part of the world, as you might gather from the following bit of doggerel:

It rained and it rained and rained and rained
The average fall was well maintained
And when the tracks were simply bogs
It started raining cats and dogs.
After a drought of half an hour
We had a most refreshing shower
And then the most curious thing of all
A gentle rain began to fall.
Next day was also fairly dry
Save for a deluge from the sky
Which wetted the party to the skin
And after that the rain set in.
‘ – The Rain (found in Architect’s Creek Hut, Westland Nat’l Park, New Zealand)

There’s no doubt fiords are beautiful to be around. Slartibartfast, the planet designer from ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy‘, won an award for the ones he made in Norway.

Milford Sound

Next day, we take a cruise to Doubtful Sound.


This involves taking one boat across Lake Manapouri and a bus across the Wilmot Pass.

Top of Wilmot Pass
Doubtful Sound

We get a rare shot of both of us, thanks to some friendly fellow-travelers from the North Island.

Just the two of us

At the mouth of the sound, we see seals and albatrosses.

Back on land, we follow the southern scenic route, through Tuatepere, Invercargill, and the Catlins.

In Tuatepere, we have the unusual experience of staying in a campground/motel/backpackers hostel in which we are the only guests. We find some paua shells (known elsewhere as abalone) to decorate our table.

Paua to the people

At the Florence Hill lookout, we stop to admire Tautuku Bay from above.

We are surprised to see a large flock of sheep marching up the beach. (You may have to enlarge the photo below to see them trooping out of the bottom right.)


We spend a few days in Dunedin. It’s very hilly.

The Edinburgh of the antipodes

The Scottish influence is everywhere. We visit the excellent Otago Settler’s Museum.

While in Dunedin, we are forced out of our accommodation by an Eagles concert. (Many fans made advance reservations.) This motivates us to visit the beautiful Otago Peninsula that starts at the edge of town.

Otago Peninsula

Sight or Insight of the Day

On our Doubtful Sound cruise, we come upon a couple of albatrosses putting on an aerial show in front of the ship.


And a good south wind sprung up behind;
The Albatross did follow,
And every day, for food or play,
Came to the mariner’s ‘hollo!’  –
Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Beautiful and graceful in flight, these are more than simply glorified seagulls.

We learn a lot more when we visit the Royal Albatross Centre at the tip of the Otago Peninsula. (So-called because there is a species called the ‘royal albatross’, not because of any kingly patronage.)

Nesting albatross

The young ones are really cute.

Covered in white fuzz

Several of the recent ‘Sight or Insight of the Day’ sections are about birds. Total coincidence.