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Published: July 13th 2009
Tripadvisor.com had rated Milford Sound as the No.1 destination in the world. A huge accolade to receive, especially as it was voted for by the people. Tripadvisor also gets over 1 million hits per week and coincidently Galway was rated in the top 40 in the same poll. Although our guide said that Doubtful Sound was better and bigger with less tourists, we still had to see Milford for ourselves. We checked the weather conditions the night before and asked at our campsite about going. They said the road was open again but don’t go to early as the roads would be icy and wait until the sun is up. We were going to go early but decided to hold off until 9am when the sun would be up and have started to melt the over night ice.
They said the journey to Milford is as spectacular as the sounds themselves. This was very true. Our map pointed out many different walks and waterfalls along the way and even a ‘mirror lake’ to take pictures of the reflections from the mountains. The drive is only 100kms but they say to give yourself two hours to get there minimum. This is
to factor in stops, winding roads and icy conditions. Really they should tell you to factor in four hours as the views were out of this world. If you stopped every time you wanted to take a photo you would be better off walking. As it was winter time there were also not that many cars on the road. Most of the time it was just you and mother nature. The skies were clear blue with the mountain tops covered in snow and the trees and valleys glistening from the frost. I’m glad we came in the winter time. The white of the snow just added to the already impressive scenery.
When we arrived we had a choice of different cruises on the lake, differing in price but all offering the same thing. The beautiful views on Milford Sound. The cruise was only going to be 1:45mins, as Milford Sound is a lot smaller than Doubtful Sound. On board I made sure I got the best position on the top deck so I could snap away to my hearts content. The previous tour we were on, there was one large group who crowded you out whenever they felt like
it and it wasn’t going to happen again. The captain remarked the previous day, that he had never lost a man over board but that today it could happen. They constantly stood in front of his window inhibiting him from seeing out. At least 10 times he had to ask them to move. They were stereotypical of they country they were from, which will remain anonymous. Anyway, back to Milford Sound! The landscape was amazing and again the photos do it no justice. The sooner they invent a camera that takes a picture of what you actually see the better. It was freezing cold out on top but I couldn’t imagine coming all the way here to look out a window at the fiord. Just another thing on our tour the previous day. Some people fell asleep in the cabin for over and hour on they way back to the pier. I couldn’t believe it. Why would you even do the tour if that’s the case. It was absolutely spectacular. One of the most beautiful places in the world. I mean, its not the easiest place to get to. You cant just fly in. It takes time and effort to
get here and then to sleep through it! I just don’t know. (Rant over!) My good angel on my right shoulder (Michelle), is telling me that I have to accept that people are different. Fair enough. I suppose!
If someone asked me which was better, Doubtful or Milford, I would say neither. Both are the same (Fiords) but different in nearly every other way. Doubtful is a huge fiord and extremely remote. Milford is a lot smaller and gets nearly 500, 000 tourists a year. Ten times the amount of Doubtful. Milford has more spectacular mountain peaks but Doubtful has many small islands. The journey to Milford is far more spectacular but the effort it takes to get to Doubtful feels more like an adventure. My advice would be to go see both. You might never be in this neck of the woods again so why miss out. I’d like to return one day and complete the Milford Track. This is a 54km, 4 day trek that starts at Te Anau Downs and ends at Milford Sound. It only runs from October to April as the weather conditions would not be suitable outside these months for amateur trekkers. As
regards my opinion as to whether it’s the No.1 place to see in the world, I would say its not. Ask me where is? I couldn’t tell you. We have seen so many fantastic places that bracketing them would be unfair. I would definitely say though, that if you can make it here it will be worth every penny. Its without doubt one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen but then again I think Galway on a fine summers day cannot be matched. But home is where the heart is, hey!
In a bit. DH
Song of the blog: U2 - Desire
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