This post has been condensed on December 30, 2018.
Queenstown, Te Anau, and Milford Sound are the three major places that we explored during this trip. This blog contains a sample itinerary as well as the costs involved.
|Waiting for our flight to Queenstown.|
– Air New Zealand Covered Parking for 5 days: NZ$ 62.00
* A free shuttle is provided by Air New Zealand Parking to and from the airport.
– Departure from Auckland to Queenstown via Air New Zealand:
Airfare for 2 pax, rountrip, with travel insurance – NZ$ 476.00
– Arrival in Queenstown.
– Connectabus to the town centre: NZ$ 8.00/pax
– Breakfast at the mall food court, we had McDonald’s & Teriyaki Chicken Don
– We tried to explore some of the shops while waiting for our bus to Te Anau.
– Coffee & hot chocolate at Movenpick.
– Tracknet Bus to Te Anau: NZ$ 48.00/pax
– Fiordland Hotel and Motel Overnight stay: NZ$ 70.00/night
Contact Person: Marichelle
Address: 91 Luxmore Drive, Te Anau
Phone: +64 3 249 7511
* A free shuttle is also provided for guests wanting to go to the lakefront and back to the hotel.
– Dinner at The Ranch
– Breakfast at the Sandfly Cafe
– Te Anau Trout Observatory (bring $2 coins to be able to enter): NZ$ 2.00/pax
– Snack at the Sandfly Cafe
– Real Journeys Coach + Milford Mariner Overnight Cruise @ Milford Sound: NZ$ 331.00/ pax
* Price is inclusive of accommodations (Double Bed Room), buffet dinner and breakfast, water activities, flowing hot drinks.
– Drinks at the ship’s bar
– Souvenir photos by Magic Memories: NZ$50.00
– Milford Sound Lodge Accommodations (Double Room): NZ$ 89.00/ night
– Coffee break at The Blue Duck Cafe
– Southern Discoveries Encounter Cruise + Underwater Observatory: NZ$ 180 (approx). We purchased this deal from a fundraising auction on TradeMe.
– Dinner at The Blue Duck Bar
– Muffins and Coffee at Milford Sound Lodge
– Real Journeys Coach to Queenstown: NZ$ 164 for 2 pax
– Lunch at Miles Better Pies
* A must-try when you head to Te Anau during Spring and Summer.
– Arrival at Goldridge Resort (Courtyard Double Room): NZ$ 81.99/night
* This was booked thru NakedBus.
– Connectabus from the resort to the town centre: NZ$ 4.50/ pax
– Cake and tea at Patagonia Cafe
– Darkride Queenstown: NZ$ 25.00/ person *with discount voucher which you can get from The Station.
Address: 1/7 Earl Street Queenstown.
– Dinner at the Fish & Chips shack (We don’t recall what it’s called)
– Cold beer at the lakefront
– Free shuttle back to the resort
– Spa & Sauna at the resort
– Doughnuts at Fergbakery just beside Fergburger.
– Shotover Jet + Scenic Heli Flight (with Remarkables landing): NZ$ 570.00/ 2 pax
* Take note that when booking this tour, the Remarkables landing is not possible at all times because of the weather. So be prepared to just enjoy the flight around Queenstown.
– Shotover Jet souvenir photos with DVD: NZ$ 59.00
– Fudge from The Remarkable Sweet Shop
– Connectabus to the hotel and to the airport: NZ$ 20/ 2 pax
– Flight back to Auckland.
As you have noticed, we didn’t include the exact amount that we spent on food. We weren’t quite sure about the prices because some of the restaurants didn’t issue receipts (yes, we keep all the receipts from our travels). But because we decided to bring cash to pay for all our food purchases, we ended up with a total of NZ$ 336.00.
This wasn’t much of a “budget-friendly” trip even if we tried our best to settle for the least expensive accommodations. Nonetheless, it was a breathtaking experience that we won’t hesitate to try again.
It is a small, busy town which is known as one of the top tourist destinations in New Zealand.
It being our final stop before flying back to Auckland, we decided to try and explore the different nooks and crannies of the locale. And since we only had less than 24 hours to spare we just dropped our bags at the Goldridge Resort, hailed a Connectabus, and the adventure began.
The waterfront, which is definitely one of Queenstown’s most iconic landmarks. It is a bustling hub of restaurants, bars, hotels, and gardens cradled by the crystal clear waters of lake Wakatipu and the snow-capped peaks of the surrounding hills.
A scenic ride is an experience that you shouldn’t pass. When booking however, be informed that the trip may not always go as planned because of the ever-changing weather conditions; which happened in our case. We were supposed to fly and land on The Remarkables, but due to strong winds, we had to settle for a lower landing area. Nonetheless, it was still an experience of a lifetime.
The Shotover Jet. This attraction is already being offered in several places in New Zealand, but this is the only one we’ve tried. Our verdict? It is a ride worth trying. A “jet”, a river, mountains, and countless boulders, that’s the trip in a nutshell.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Sweet Chili Chicken
Potatoes & Kumara
Roasted Beef and Lamb with gravy/mint sauce/ mint jelly
Vanilla Ice Cream
Fresh Fruits (Kiwi, Melon, Pineapple, Peach)
Hotdog & Sausage
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.
More of Milford Sound
Upon disembarking the Milford Mariner at approximately 9:00 am, we had to wait for the Milford Sound Lodge shuttle to pick us up from the wharf. Although it would have taken us only 20 minutes to walk to the lodge, we opted for the shuttle because of our luggage.
Milford Sound Lodge offers a wide variety of accommodation options. If you are on a tight budget and do not mind to bathe and do your business in a communal restroom, then you are looking at spending about $ 33-85 (NZ) per night. However, if money isn’t an issue, then you can have your own private oasis for $245 and up per night. In our case, we opted to book the double room (similar to the room shown above) for our second night in Milford Sound.
The double room is very cozy space with a functional heater and all the linens were provided. The room only has one socket, we’re not quite sure if this is the case for most or all of the rooms, that’s why we had to take turns in charging our phones and cameras. In terms of dining, you can cook your own meal in the communal kitchen or you can head to the Blue Duck Cafe & Bar. As for the communal restroom, it was generally clean. The shower cubicles were of good size and the hot water supply was abundant. Our only issue was probably the exhaust system, need I say more.
After checking-in, we decided to walk to the Blue Duck Cafe & Bar before heading to the wharf for our encounter cruise with Southern Discoveries. The cafe & bar are probably the only places to dine, unless you are on board a cruise that offers buffet breakfast and dinner options like that of the Milford Mariner.
The cafe offers a variety of hot drinks, pies, and brunch meals. During our initial visit we tried the pies, hot chocolate, and flat white. Taste-wise, it wasn’t different from what you can buy from typical cafes in Auckland.
12:30-ish, we were on board the Southern Discoveries boat. One important stop that we had to make during the tour was at the Milford Discovery Centre & Underwater Observatory. If you share our love of the aquatic life, then you will truly enjoy visiting this floating observatory. We got to see the Black Coral, a variety of fish species, star fish, sea cucumber, anemones, and more!
Back at the wharf, we decided to have dinner at the Blue Duck’s bar which is within the same vicinity as the cafe. This time, we ordered a platter of meat, a platter of nachos, and a pitcher of beer. We enjoyed the scrumptious meal while gazing at the fiord; it was the perfect way to end the day.