Continuing on the review of all things good in the south island of New Zealand I have outlined some of the best things to do an see in and around Te Anau and Milford Sound.
The Drive from Dunedin to Milford Sound has a few areas of interest. Firstly, if you are looking for a spot along Highway 1 to stop and stretch the legs and grab a bite to eat, Gore, is the place. Strange name but it’s a nice town with plenty of cafés to help you on your way. Get back on the road along highway 94 and you will have stunning scenery all the way to Te Anau (watch out for the sharp right turn just after Lumsden which continues highway 94). One nice stopping point is a place called The Key which is about 35km (25 mins) after Mossburn. This area has stunning views of Mount Hamilton. Te Anau is then only 20 minutes from this point.
Mount Hamilton Panorama from The Key - Near Te Anau, New Zealand
Te Anau is a lovely little town, with a great character. There are plenty of accommodation options in Te Anau but by far the best place to stay in Te Anau is Te Anau Lodge located on 52 Howden St, Te Anau, this former nuns home is now a fantastic accommodation option. We called George, the owner, from Dunedin , having found it on TripAdvisor and arranged our accommodation – very friendly and helpful.
Te Anau Lodge - Excellent Accommodation in Te Anau
On arrival at Te Anau Lodge we were given a tour of the house and it’s facilities. The view alone was worth staying here for. It is a stunning property, very clean and very well managed. Hard to believe it’s not your home when you stay here. Rooms are bright and airy with great facilities. The staff are so helpful and nice. Breakfasts include a buffet area with cereals and fruit plus a hot option is also available cooked to order by George himself. We stayed here two nights and leaving this sublime spot was very difficult. The Te Anau lodge was one of the highlights of our trip. (Only for the TripAdvisor iPhone app we may never have found it!)
While in Te Anau we did some trips. Glow Worm caves are located on the lake and trips can be arranged at the lakefront marina. The glow worm caves are stunning if you have never seen them before.
Further afield is Milford Sound. It’s a bit of a drive but the scenery along the way is stunning – lucky if you get there at all with all the scenic points and at one point you drive through a mountain tunnel. Leave early in the morning around 8am to avoid the coach busses coming from Queenstown (also speeds at some points drop to 25kph so you have to take it handy).
You will also get morning mists if lucky. A “MUST SEE” are the Reflective Lakes which mirror the mountains in the water. An amazing effect. (see some of the images at the foot of this blog post)
On arriving at Milford Sound you have many options including cruises on the sound, or scenic flights. We decided to take a cruise which lasts around 90minutes. You get to see waterfalls, the vast cliffs which surround the sound plus if lucky seals and dolphins.
The Te Anau and Milford Sound area are very scenic and 2 days would be a minimum stay in this area in order to see everything.
Next Stop… Queenstown.
Reflective Lakes on the Way to Milford Sound
Massive Waterfall in Milford Sound - to the right of the falls you can see one of the cruise ships.
This picture of an amazing Cloud Formation which I spotted when driving alond the desert road in New Zealand (the N1 road towards Lake Taupo). Its like something from the start of War of the Worlds or the new alien feature, Skyline.
Amazing Cloud Formation spotted in New Zealand – Looks like a UFO is just about to break through the clouds…
Below is a close up of the clouds shows the weird formation which I had never seen anything like before.
Close-up of the weird cloud formation
Going to Wellington, New Zealand? This rough and brief Wellington travel guide will show you What to Do, Where to Go, Where to Eat and What to See in Wellington, New Zealand. Wellington is a lovely little city, much nicer than the business oriented Auckland – Wellington is one of the nicest places we visited in New Zealand and is a place where the pace of life is as nice as the people you meet there !
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On arriving in Wellington it was a real change of pace from the metropolis of Hong Kong and the city buzz of Sydney. One of the first things you notice is the quaint / small town feel you get from the moment you leave the airport. Some very nice sculptures along the way also. We were staying at the Copthorne Hotel in Oriental Bay – a hotel which was so nice we stayed at the Copthorne / Millennium Group Hotels during our whole stay in New Zealand.
Wellington, New Zealand – View from Cable Car station near Botanical Gardens
Wellington is a great place for relaxing – the pace is not that of a capital city which of course it is. Our first stop was the botanical gardens, as it is on a hill which overlooks the city – get the cable car to the summit (not the type of cable car which you might think – more of a vernicular).
Flowers in the Wellington Botanical Gardens
The view is stunning and there are plenty of walks which should keep you going for 2-3 hours. The restaurant in the Botanical Gardens is really good and service very fine meals, hot drinks and desserts. not to be missed also is the observatory which has a 3D projection tour of the night sky which is a very relaxing way to spend a half hour.
Alien Toilets? – Fun Sign at Wellington Observatory
Food in Wellington is not a problem. Cuba Street is one of the places where you can find good food at any time. One of the places we tried was Simply Paris, 181 Cuba Street. Welcomed by a french waiter, the food was excellent and the ambiance was very authentic – would certainly return here if in Wellington again.
If you are looking for a good view of Wellington, you should try going up to Mount Victoria which has an observation point giving a 360 degree vista on the area. Out hotel said we could walk it but if you do walk it, bring oxygen, as it is a fairly strenuous hike !
View from Mount Victoria, Wellington, New Zealand
If you want to do something more cultural, the Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa located on the sea front is worth going to. About 4 floors of artifacts, pictures, videos and interactive exhibits (many of them stuffed which I didn’t like too much) – it is a great way to get to know more about New Zealand and the Maori people who inhabited New Zealand before the white people colonised the islands. There is a restaurant here which is quite nice – the main courses were decent and very tasty but the seafood chowder which we got was not really chowder but some sort of seafood broth – I like my chowder but it was not great. They do however do a good coffee / cappuccino!
Look out in Wellington for the variety of sculptures – many of which are moving in the wind. The best of them all is the Smarties which is located along one of the main streets ( which you can see on Google Street View by clicking here)
We really enjoyed Wellington and would certainly return. A relaxed city with lots to do, good food and nice people – you don’t find that every day.
From here we hired a car, and progressed up N1 route North, visiting Foxton, Bulls, Taihape, en route to our final destination Lake Taupo.
I’m just back from a trip to Hong Kong, Sydney and the North Island of New Zealand.
Over the next few blog posts I am going to upload some posts about the best places to stay, eat and go as well as the best trips or sights to see in Hong Kong, Sydney and New Zealand (including Wellington, Lake Taupo, Rotorua, Auckland and Bay of Islands).
The first of these posts will appear next week along with some pictures etc….