Milford Mariner by Real Journeys Review

Milford Sound, a.k.a Piopiotahi (in Maori), is one of the must-see places not only in New Zealand, but in the world; and we couldn’t agree more.

Sunset at Milford Sound (September 2014)

Getting here, we had to take a bus from Te Anau, which almost didn’t push through because of the unpredictable weather. A day prior to our scheduled departure, the roads to Milford Sound were closed because of avalanche alerts. Thankfully, the roads were cleared and the weather settled 45 minutes before our travel time. We hopped on the Real Journeys coach at 12:45pm and made our way to the fiord.

Along the way, the driver shared numerous facts about Te Anau and Milford Sound. He also gave us the opporunity to experience and take photos of various landmarks which were undoubtedly breathtaking. Such landmarks include Mirror Lakes, The Chasm, Eglinton Valley, and Tutoko River.

By 4:00pm, we arrived at the Milford Sound terminal. From there, we boarded the Milford Mariner which was our home for the next 17 hours.

The heightened anxiety caused by the road closure and the uncertainty of arriving in Milford Sound were all eased by the magnificent view of the fiord and the warm welcome of the crew as we boarded the cruise ship.

Before leaving the dock, the crew members were introduced and the safety protocols were explained. Then the journey to the heart of the fiord begun.

On board the vessel, one never runs out of things to do.

Sightseeing. Β One can never have enough of nature’s beauty. In Milford Sound, tourists get the chance to see waterfalls of all sizes, both permanent and temporary; the remnants of tree avalanches; colossal mountains like the Mitre Peak; a robust aquatic environment that houses dolphins of varying sizes, the New Zealand Fur Seals, and the Fiordland Crested Penguins.

New Zealand Fur Seal

Water Activities. As soon as the Milford Mariner is anchored, guests are given the option to explore the nooks and crannies of the fiord whether by paddling on a kayak, relaxing on a tender craft, or simply by swimming.

Snoozing. On board the ship, depending on your booking, you will enjoy a private cabin with your own bathroom. Thus, you can sleep anytime without worrying about noise and people wandering.

Lounging in the saloon. If you prefer to get away from the chilly air, you can always sit in one of the cozy saloon chairs while you satisfy yourself with the overflowing supply of hot drinks.

When travelling, one of the vital components that we always take into consideration is the abundance of good food. And the Mariner didn’t fail us. Both dinner and breakfast were buffet meals.

Dinner Menu (based on our recollection):
Breads and Dips
Vegetable Salad
Coleslaw
Venison dish
Sweet Chili Chicken
Potatoes & Kumara
Roasted Beef and Lamb with gravy/mint sauce/ mint jelly
Chocolate Brownies
Lemon Cheesecake
Pavlova
Fruit Salad
Vanilla Ice Cream

Breakfast
Cereal (Variety)
Fresh Fruits (Kiwi, Melon, Pineapple, Peach)
Hash Brown
Hotdog & Sausage
Scrambled Eggs
Mushrooms
Bacon
Toast

Disembarking the Milford Mariner the following day filled us with mixed emotions. Sad to leave the comforts of the vessel; however, happy to proceed with the next leg of our 5-day getaway.

Upcoming posts: Out and About in Queenstown, Milford Sound Part 2, The Hidden Gems of Te Anau, The 5-day Itinerary (with costs).

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