BootsnAll Travel Network



Milford Sound to Christchurch

Nov 3-6

The next stop on our tour of New Zealand was Milford Sound which is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country – with good reason. We avoided the crowded midday cruises and arrived late in the day in time to catch the last cruise of the day on The Encounter.

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Our 20-something captain, Fiord (I’m not kidding, it’s his real name), gave an interesting, if slightly irreverent, commentary and the crew were fun and enthusiastic. There were about eight kids on the cruise and they gravitated to Captain Fiord like magnets and spent most of the cruise fighting over his chair in the wheelhouse. He took it all in stride and admitted to rather enjoying the attention.

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Then there was first mate, Douglas, a stereotypical redheaded Scot who ignored the chilly drizzle and remained outside in his golf shirt for the entire cruise, even after getting drenched under a waterfall.

We certainly weren’t disappointed by the beauty and majesty of the sheer cliffs wrapped in mist and the multitude of mystical waterfalls that cascaded down them. We got a real sense of perspective when a full-size cruise ship sailed into view and was utterly dwarfed by the massive walls of the fiord.

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Next, Captain Fiord was able to negotiate our boat right under Fairy Falls where Claude had fun getting soaked while filling a mug with water.

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We also got to see some yellow-eyed penguins and several seals as well as some interesting rock formations.

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All in all, we thoroughly enjoyed experiencing this pristine corner of the world. And, of course, Alexa & Simon had made another batch of new friends.

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Since Milford Sound is so remote, we had to drive 2 ½ hours back to Te Anau where we spent the night at “Barnyard Backpackers,” a hostel/deer farm with little log cabins overlooking pastures full of deer with the mountains as a backdrop. Our cabin was a little worn and the showerhead fell off in my hand, but the ambiance made up for it.

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Not too shabby for $70/night. The next morning we began our journey back up the east coast and made it as far as Dunedin, home of the Speights brewery and Baldwin St, the world’s steepest street.

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Before continuing up the coast, we detoured to the Otago Peninsula

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where we visited Larnach Castle, New Zealand’s only castle,

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and the Royal Albatross Centre. Then it was time to head for Christchurch. Along the way we stopped to see the unique Moeraki Boulders on the beach that resembled dinosaur eggs.

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Next, we stopped in Oamaru to visit Dawn and Brian, our friends from church in the Cook Islands.

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They have a small hobby farm and were happy to let the kids feed the lambs and play with the sheep.

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They also introduced us to a week old foal and some very cute calves. The kids also had a great time playing on the lawn tractors and on Brian’s collection of antique cars. It was kind of like visiting a kindly aunt and uncle and made us a little homesick.

Then it was on to Christchurch where we stayed at Drifters, a hostel where we felt like we were visiting relatives (again). The owners, Peter & Veronica, and their two enormous black labs lived right in the hostel and we felt like guests in their rather cluttered but cozy home. As soon as we opened the door, Simon was flattened by their dog, Bam Bam, who seemed to worship him and followed him everywhere. There were piles of puzzles and games in the living room and the kids were ecstatic to discover an entire trunk full of Lego. We had a little excitement that night when the portable heater in our room leaked oil on the carpet and the fumes set off the smoke detector. All of a sudden, a siren started whooping and an authoritative voice with an Australian accent announced, “Attention, this is a fire alarm! Please leave the building via the nearest fire exit immediately!” The racket woke Alexa up in a panic but Simon slept through all the excitement – even when Bam Bam came in and gave him a big kiss on the nose (unfortunately for Simon, Bam Bam had just been digging in the garden).

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See, this is why we stay in hostels – we’d never have this much fun in a motel!

To see the rest of our New Zealand photos, visit our web album.



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One Response to “Milford Sound to Christchurch”

  1. Christine says:

    This is my first time stumbling upon this blog and I just want to say kudos to you guys for going RTW with kids! This is going to be an amazing and enriching experience that they will never forget. You’re giving them an education they can’t get anywhere else and I hope they are forever grateful.

    Best wishes!

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