Te Anau & Mildford Sound Drive Day Trip

Back in mid-winter, before we really knew our road trip path, we decided to book a 3-day Doubtful Sound cruise and that we would find a way to be in the area by mid December. Though not a typical route, we did enjoy zipping our way back to Fjordland from Christchurch. On our way out of town, I sadly realized we never went to the famous violet lupin fields outside of town.

We were already a few hours into our drive, so there was no turning back. I had accepted that it would be another item on the “Next time!” list but the road trip gods heard my calls of sorrow and rewarded us with a surprise private field of these magnificent flowers that explode in colors of magenta, lilac, and periwinkle (also yes I just googled colors of purple). Not 5 minutes down the road, there were large fields of lupins that looked as if they had sprung selfie sticks as a large group of what one can only describe as ‘influencers” donned in large hats, flowy summer dresses, and funky sunglasses fought for space to pose casually like no one else was there. Not that I didn’t pose like an idiot standing awkwardly in flowers, but there was no one there to elbow out of the way so I can pose in front of a camera as if I didn’t know it was snapping photos.

After “casually” strolling through the flowers and feeling satisfied with the captured pieces of memories, we headed to our first stop, the adorable lakeside town of Te Anau, also known as the gateway to Milford Sound. Day 1 was spent doing all the escape rooms in town – which is two rooms – but they were fun and had a bit of local Moose folklore involved.

Our second day was spent packing for our upcoming cruise, followed by an evening on the Faith in Fjordland ship, a 1930’s vessel that has been restored for tourism. Our Airbnb host was one of the captains of the ship and invited us onboard for an evening of champagne and sailing around Lake Te Anau. Our glasses were never empty and we truly felt like special guests being treated to a private charter.

Driving to Milford Sound was how we spent our third day, and even after doing a fly over and a cruise back in June, was our favorite way to experience Milford Sound. We had another run in with a cheeky Kea. At this point I feel it goes without saying that kea’s are cheeky little trouble makers. Frequently described as naughty toddlers, they are smart as a whip and do not like being told what to do, and often explore destructively with their beaks. We had one play with us and the cars around us as we waited to cross the famous Milford Sound Tunnel.

Surrounded by giants, Kea’s weren’t the only thing that kept us in awe of this place. If you have a choice to drive to Milford – take the drive.