Day 5: Round Trip From Queenstown – Milford Sound – Queenstown

by The Crew on June 14, 2011

Distance: 600 km

What a ride!

We left Queenstown in the eraly morning – about 6 am would be my guess – and headed off for an amazing ride.

We rode out of Queenstown and jumped on to Kingston Road, a piece of riding paradise that meanders its way alongside Lake Wakatipu for 35 kilometres.

In the early hours there wasn’t any traffic about and the riding was perfectly peaceful and just superb.

From there it was rolling hills and farmland either side of us as we headed through small farming communities to the town of Te Anau, where we stopped for a nutritious breakfast of a pie and coffee (cough).

That’s about 170 kms from Queenstown.

(When you ride this road, just be aware that the cops hang around Te Anau in the late afternoon to catch tourists exceeding the speed limit on the way back to Queenstown after visiting Milford Sound.  Easy money if you can get it.)

Beside Lake Te Anau

Then it’s more lovely riding beside Lake Te Anau as you head along the Te Anau Milford Highway.

That highway becomes the Milford Sound Highway and you’re heading to the Sound.

You go up and over mountains, hills and more and travel through the famous Homer Tunnel, the tunnel that pierces the Main Divide at the Homer Saddle.

When you go through the tunnel you’ll be amazed that it was started by just 5 guys with picks and wheelbarrows!

The bends from the western side of the tunnel to the Sound make the trip worthwhile and you head down, down down to the water.

All up it’s about 295 km from Queenstown to Milford Sound – a great and ever-changing ride.

It’s pretty easy to describe the ride back – the ride there, but in reverse (well, not reverse, turn your bike around and go the other way – how funny am I??!).

Milford Sound Itself

The Sound is actually a fjord (which the boat operators will tell you time and time again – they seem very pissed that it was wrongly named).

It’s New Zealand’s most popular tourist attraction and gets up to a million visitors a year.

They all pretty much take the boat cruise, so there are a good number of cruise operators in the purpose built facility on the wharf.

One of the many cruise operators

One of the many cruise operators

So it was onto the boat and a cruise around the Sound (sorry….fjord!) and a look at the scenery.

The lads about to hit the Sound......sorry, fjord!

The lads about to hit the Sound......sorry, fjord!

Oooooh look, there's a hill in the water!

Oooooh look, there's a hill in the water!

Short wait at the west side of Homer Tunnel

Short wait at the west side of Homer Tunnel

It’s Lovely And All…………………….BUT

Now, don’t get me wrong because we’re talking about:

  • New Zealand’s most popular tourist attraction
  • The world’s top travel destination in an international survey (the 2008 Travelers’ Choice Destinations Awards by TripAdvisor)
  • A place Rudyard Kipling described as the Eighth Wonder of the World

Source: Wikipedia….so it must be true ;o)

BUT………………………..Tasmania’s Gordon River cruises out of Strahan kick it’s ass!

The Gordon River/Macquarie Harbour cruise has a ton more interesting history, you get dropped at an old convict island with a tour and the scenery is just as good.

My bet is that Rudyard Kipling never visited the Gordon River so has no bloody idea what he’s on about!

Another Brilliant Ride

All up it was close on 6oo km for the day, but what a beautiful ride it was.

Like a lot of the New Zealand roads, it was picturesque, mostly traffic free and a pleasure to ride on.

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