There was no question about where to spend our last night before returning our hire car to Queenstown. We had grown to love Glendhu Bay Campsite like it was our home after despising it so much on our journey there a whole three weeks earlier. One last night in Wanaka and we spent it doing what we do best, eating out. It was time to return to my house in Lumsden to pick up Nina (my car) and make our way to Milford Sounds no matter that the weather had in store for us. I still can’t believe that the sun followed us for our whole month long trip around the South Island. Surely on our visit to the wettest place in the country it wouldn’t be so kind? But it was.
The perfect weather clung to us as we hit the winding road to Milford. Camping at one of the DOC sites along the way was easy and it gave me a chance to try out Steph’s four man tent which she had lent me. Sitting up was such a luxury but certainly not worth the 1am walk across forest leaves back into the warmth of Mum’s tent after I had lost all feeling in my face. Boy it was cold.
After an early start we arrived in good time like the hundreds of others who were also catching their morning tour. The boat tours around Milford are all pretty much the same but cater to different clientele which is reflected in the price. Apart from the cost, a good indication of which boat you are on is by the snack you receive. We got a bacon and cheese fritter thing and a plastic cup of orange juice which was a reminder we were on the backpacker boat, the cheapest option.
Even though we had saved a few bob on the boat our experience was in no way compromised. Our Juicy Tour boat was nice and spacious and the captain was ever so informative about the area and the wildlife we saw. We both had a really awesome time out in the Sounds and learnt so much from the staff. The backpackers on board were fine too although Mum did get a little lost in the initial pushing and shoving and may have had a wee hissy fit when she lost her space at the front. After a while though she learnt that it’s a dog eat dog world out there and to get a good photo spot you had to do a fair bit of pushing and shoving yourself. Sometimes it pays to be a little selfish.
Milford Sounds has become the number one tourist attraction in New Zealand and I was a little put off by this. However, I can certainly see why and I have absolutely no regrets about jumping on the band wagon because we both had an incredible day out. Milford Sounds are just stunning and although there were other boats on the water, we rarely saw them at all. On our drive home we stopped off to walk Key Summit which is a side trip off the famous Routeburn Track. This is one of the most beautiful walks I’ve done in New Zealand and although steep at times it’s completely worth it.
After a shit nights sleep, an early start and a big day on the sounds we were pretty darn tired by the time we arrived back at my house. Mum’s flight was at 7am the next day which meant another early start and a long night of packing ahead. After most of the packing had been done we sat down to a much needed glass of wine. Mum looked over at me funny with a guilty look on her face and laughed. “What?” I asked.
It turns out her flight was at 7pm the following day not 7am which meant we had spent a tiresome evening packing for no reason at all. I could have killed her. On the plus side this meant we had a bit of a lie in and 12 more hours with one another. So we did what we do best. Ate out!
We decided to go the whole hog to mark the end of our South Island adventure and managed to nab a table at award-winning Amisfield Winery. Our multi-course “trust the chef” menu may have broken a bank or two but it was absolutely beautiful in both taste and presentation. The only thing that was disappointing was that the $95 price tag didn’t include a dessert and one’s got to have dessert, it’s a must!
It was time to say farewell to the mothership and I held my breath trying not to cry because I don’t do tears. Of course as soon as she was out of sight I ran into the toilets and balled my eyes out. The only thing that would cheer me up was a Patagonia ice cream so I indulged before the drive home. I’d like to say a massive thank you to my Mum for making the long journey to see me and for my Dad for being so generous as always. Thanks to Mum again for putting up with me for a whole month and I hope that her memories of our trip are just as precious as mine. Love you both x