The Calm Before The Storm – Milford Sound – Fiordland National Park, New Zealand

Our road trip through New Zealand has finally taken us to Milford Sound, the country’s most popular tourist destination which has been unofficially declared the “8th natural wonder of the world.” Since we were lucky enough to see Doubtful Sound on a clear, sunny day, it was only appropriate that we saw Milford Sound on a misty, cloudy day…which isn’t really as bad as it sounds; the more rain, the more waterfalls. The drive to Milford Sound alone is beautiful. It takes 3 hours to get there from the closest town, and even longer if you stop at each of the valleys, waterfalls, creeks, lakes and viewpoints along the way.  It’s hard not to stop, since each twist and turn offers something more beautiful to check out. Our most memorable stopping point was to build piles of rocks with a curious Kea parrot! When we reached Milford Sound, we admittedly weren’t initially impressed. We were spoiled by the beautiful day we had in Doubtful Sound; the weather was gorgeous, it was untouched and remote, it didn’t have the 20 buses full of tourists that we followed into Milford Sound. But then when you stop and take a look at where you are and what’s surrounding you, you appreciate it more. Milford Sound is home to Mitre Peak, a mountain that rises near vertically to 5,560 feet (just over a mile!) straight out of the water. Mitre Peak is one of many mountains that climb out of the sound in a near vertical fashion. In this type of environment, your mind starts to play tricks on you. We saw waterfalls that were three times the height of Niagra Falls, but looked like trickles compared to the mountains they were flowing from. There was a cruise ship in the sound that looked tiny compared to the mountains. Yes, a cruise ship, in the sound… In the end, we ended up loving Milford Sound and appreciating it for its beauty and what it had become. If it wasn’t for all those tourists, there wouldn’t have been a need for the lodge we stayed in, arguably one of the best places we’ve stayed so far. Located in Milford Sound, we had a private chalet with views of the mountains. We counted 3 waterfalls when we went to bed. After a peaceful night, being lulled to sleep by the sound of rain, we woke up to 12 brand new waterfalls, right outside our back door. The mountains of Milford Sound are mostly rock, so anytime there is a decent amount of rainfall (which happens quite often, as the sound receives over 18 feet of rain each year), the handful of permanent waterfalls are joined by hundreds of temporary runoff falls.  What more could you ask for out of a rainy day?