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Te Anau and Milford Sound, New Zealand – What to do and Where to Stay

Te Anau and Milford Sound, New Zealand – What to do and Where to Stay

Te Anau and Milford Sound, New Zealand – What to do and Where to Stay

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

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, Te Anau, New Zealand - The Best Accommodation in Te Anau New Zealand

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

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.

Massive Waterfall in Milford Sound – to the right of the falls you can see one of the cruise ships.

Wellington to Lake Taupo. Where to Stay, What to Do, Where to Go, Where to Eat

Wellington to Lake Taupo. Where to Stay, What to Do, Where to Go, Where to Eat

Going to New Zealand? This rough and brief travel guide will show you What to Do, Where to Go, Where to Eat and What to See traveling between Wellington and Lake Taupo in New Zealand.  Continuing on from Wellington on our way to Lake Taupo we were traveling along the N1 on the North Island of New Zealand visiting small towns such as Foxton, Bulls, Taihape on the way to Lake Taupo where we had already booked accommodation.

Driving in New Zealand - Amazing Scenery on the N1 New Zealand Roads

The first town we reached was Foxton. This is off the main road, but the guide book said it was a lovely town so we decided to take a look. Foxton is like a step back in time, not in a bad way or behind the times, rather Foxton has manged to keep the old town look and feel in a nice way.

Foxton New Zealand

Windmill and Tram in Foxton, New Zealand

The main feature is the Windmill which was brought over from Holland, bit by bit and build by people who had never built a windmill before – by reviewing the plans for the structure. There are horse drawn tram rides, an electric trolleybus, old style streets – I was told there are plans to make Foxton a hub of activity with kayaking, walks and other things to do. We enjoyed about 2 hours here before getting back on the road, taking a nice coffee and snack in the cafe near the Windmill.

From here we traveled back on the N1 again and on passing through a town called Bulls we just had to stop and take some photos. The shops are all BULL Oriented, e.g. the local realtor / estate agent has “live-a-bull” as his tag line, the town hall centre has “soci-a-bull”, and so on to Taihape where we had decided to take lunch.

The town of Bulls, New Zealand

Fun signs in the town of Bulls, New Zealand

Taihape is another very nice town, almost like small town America, worth taking an hour or so to enjoy, plenty of nice cafes to take a snack in.

The town of Taihape, New Zealand

The town of Taihape, New Zealand

On the last leg to Lake Taupo, back onto the N1 we go via the desert road, part of which is a military area, with an amazing landscape.

As soon as you see Lake Taupo for the first time you will have a few opportunities to stop into the left and enjoy many of the viewing areas, with incredible vistas of the lake. I’m sure there have been an accident or two with drivers looking at the nice view and not the road. Its still another good hours drive to Lake Taupo – so far its been about 6 hours since leaving Wellington.

Lake Taupo Viewing Point, New-Zealand

Lake Taupo, Viewing Point with Snow-Storm moving in

After about 45 minutes we enter into Taupo and arrive at the Millennium Hotel which sits on the waterfront with amazing views of the lake. The Millennium Hotel also has a really nice outdoor heated pool, no problems using it in winter as it is quite warm. The restaurant there is very nice and we enjoyed a buffet there on arrival – only $39NZ per person which was very reasonable.

New-Zealand Lake Taupo with Mountain Snow

Lake Taupo with the Mountains covered in Snow.

We later found out that the desert road was blocked by snow and we made it to Lake Taupo with 4 or 5  hours to spare before the snow trapped people on the desert road.

Lake Taupo – To Be Continued … ( Lake Trip to Maori Carvings & Craters of the Moon… )

Amazing Mammatus Cloud Formation in New Zealand

Amazing Mammatus Cloud Formation in New Zealand

Unusual Cloud formation in New Zealand

This picture of an amazing Cloud Formation which I spotted when driving along the desert road in New Zealand (the N1 road towards Lake Taupo). It’s like something from the start of War of the Worlds or the new alien feature skyline. It was a formation and type of cloud I had not seen before and I can tell you it freaked me out a small bit when I first saw this.

Amazing Cloud Formation spotted in New Zealand - UFO?

Amazing Cloud Formation spotted in New Zealand – These unusual cloud formations are amazing and 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.

Closeup of the Amazing Weird Cloud Formation - Amazing Photo

Close-up of the weird cloud formation

Weird eh?

What are these clouds formations?

Apparently, these are called Mammatus cloud formations. Mammatus clouds are often associated with severe thunderstorms as they can extend from the base of a cumulonimbus. Mammatus are often indicative of strong storm activity. With my interest in aviation, I know that pilots always try to avoid these types of clouds due to induction turbulence. 

These Mammatus cloud formations end up usually having a bubbly or lobe based shaped. They often form a cluster of lobes giving the above formation. These Mammatus cloud lobes are usually composed of ice and liquid water. It is known that if you see these, it is normally the sign of a coming storm or other extreme weather systems. 

The sign of these clouds preceding a storm was very much correct.  We passed the point where this photo was taken at 5 pm, by midnight this road was officially closed as it was blocked by a huge snow drift. Amazing!

Wellington, New Zealand. Where to Stay, What to Do, Where to Go, Where to Eat

Wellington, New Zealand. Where to Stay, What to Do, Where to Go, Where to Eat

Where to Stay, What to Do, Where to Go, Where to Eat in Wellington, New Zealand

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 !

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

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 vernacular).

Flowers in the Wellington Botanical Gardens

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.

Fun Sign at Wellington Observatory

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 ambience 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. Our 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

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 seafront is worth going to. About 4 floors of artefacts, 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.