Josh & I had booked ourselves in for the Millford Sound Trip the day before and there was only a very short window - as we got up at the crack of dawn - when we wished we'd just left alone and stayed in bed. Soon after, the sights unfolded before us and our 600 km round trip turned out to be incredible.
Like much of NZ, stunning views were part and parcel of the day, but the first two hours on the bus were just killing time until we hit Te Anau and wound our way through the mountain passes. The mirror lakes - pretty self-explanatory - were incredible, with the snow-capped mountains reflected in the still waters. For this leg of the journey, up until we would board the Millford Sound Cruise and make our way into the fiords, it was all eyes and all ears as Mangee, our driver, blurted out interesting facts and talked us through the scenery. Clearly a man keen on music, it amused him each and every time there was a new kodak moment out of the left-hand window to play Beyonce's Irreplaceable... a song which begins "To the left, to the left, every little thing in a box to the left". Realising by now that he had the classic Burgess sense (lack?) of humour we could tell we were going to enjoy the day even more. He then asked us as we drove through rising hills covered in huge trees "Guess which film was shot here?" as he put the Jurassic Park soundtrack on. Minutes later he admitted that nothing had ever been filmed here and that he just liked the song...
It did, however, best describe the scenery!
A few more stops presented some beautiful waterfalls and mountain views but the next big attraction would be the Cruise around Millford Sound in gorgeous sunshine. We'd been looking forward to the cruise for many reasons but at this point in time the biggest pro was that a buffet was waiting for us there. Barely 10 minutes into the cruise we had loaded up our plates but soon found that the food was very average. Luckily, the views were compensation, and the sun glinting off the waters of the fiord made what could have been everyday views in NZ, very very special. About an hour into the cruise we were dropped off at the Millford Sound Deep Underwater Observatory which allows you to survey life 10 metres beneath the surface of the fiord. This is a unique experience as you get a sneak peek into the underwater world of the fiord which leads to the Tasman sea, and if you're lucky you can spot dolphins or sharks among the other beautiful but more common fish.
A last stint on the cruise left us back at the bus and Mangee informed us that this was the boring part of the journey where we had the same 300K or so to cover that we had already seen, before we got back to QT. A screening of "Superbad" followed - always one that is impossible to resist, so we got back to Queenstown about as knackered as we had left it. All this in spite of Mangee's grand finale where he sung "The Wheels on the Bus" and invented a verse that meant he slammed on the brakes at all the appropriate moments... there's nothing quite like fearing for your life to jolt you awake!
A very tired predrinks followed as Josh & I tried to shake off the stupor of spending 12 hours on and off a bus and we filtered out of the hostel to our now regular haunts: Altitude & Buffalo Bar (which was sadly no longer offering 2-for-1 Jagers!) After sticking it out for far too long in Altitude because of the false promise that there was to be a horizontal bungy competition (Don't ask!) we went onto Winnie's to enjoy dancing on the terraces there. Known as the bar that would accept anyone, no matter the state they were in, it was always a little grotty but probably one of the best nights out in QT. We loved the place!
Dan / Burge