Queenstown and Milford Sound South Island

Approaching Queenstown
Before arriving in Queenstown, we enjoyed the beauty on approaching the city.  Passing through idyllic rolling green hills of sheep pastures, we moved into mountains with evergreens and picturesque water views.  Bright yellow Scotch broom shrubs covered many areas with their lovely flowers.  Unfortunately they are an aggressive, invasive plant which can be toxic to livestock. 

Downtown waterfront
Queenstown, a city of 58,000, has been growing quickly in recent years, and it’s easy to understand why.  It is also a destination for adventurers of all ages.  Hiking, skiing, bungee jumping, jet boat rides, white water rafting, snowboarding, kayaking and mountain biking are all options.  The setting of the city, nestled in the Southern Alps alongside Lake Wakatipu, is about as close to perfection as I can imagine.  The waterfront district is bordered on one side by restaurants and bars; the other side is the Queenstown Gardens and a beach.  The Queenstown Trail is a 63-mile biking/hiking trail which wraps around the lake and links to other trails as well. 

Staying a few days in the city, we had plenty of time to explore.  However, Alan wanted a little more excitement, and opted for a jet boat ride on the Shotover River.  Obtaining a front row seat in a boat moving through the narrow canyon and spectacular scenery at about 45 mph, he had a grin from ear to ear for the whole ride.  The following day we climbed on board a glass-topped tour bus for a full day trip to Milford Sound combined with a cruise through the Sound.  We had lucked into perfect weather.  This is a difficult thing to come by in an area which receives rain or snow an average of 220 days per year.

On the route through the Fiordland National Park, we had an opportunity to get out and walk around at Mirror Lake, The Chasm Walkway and at the single-lane Homer Tunnel, when we arrived at an extended red light.  The tunnel was completed in 1954.  Roads through the park and the tunnel were jobs which had first been started as a work project during the depression.  Arriving at the cruise boat at Milford Sound, we were led to the dining room for a full buffet lunch as the boat headed out from the dock.  The captain provided a narration as we cruised through the stunning surroundings.  Front and rear open decks provided a great area for snapping photos.  We spotted more NZ fur seals, but were thrilled when we had the opportunity to see another new penguin, the Fiordland Crested Penguin.  It was a phenomenally beautiful trip.

The following day we started the marathon trip back to the United States.  Flying from Queenstown to Christchurch, to Sydney, to San Francisco, to Los Angeles.  Whew!   Now, we will be driving back across country to Florida with our first stop in Las Vegas to pick up the RV.

Waterfront in Queenstown

Alan heading out on the Shotover River

Fiordland Crested Penguins

Reflection at Mirror Lake

View along the drive

Valley of a Thousand Waterfalls

Two Kea's sparring (alpine parrots)

Dock at Milford Sound

Waterfall in the Sound

Entrance to the Sound from the Tasman Sea

Another waterfall in the Sound

Bridge over Shotover River

Road down from the Remarkable Mountains outside Queenstown

Rocks sculpted by the Cleddau River at the Chasm Walkway

Moving through the Sound

Photographer at work

View from the Queenstown Gardens overlooking the Lake

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