Without a doubt the best end to the tour...

Trip Start Apr 09, 2010
Trip End Sep 07, 2010

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Milford Cruiser

Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Monday, August 2, 2010

Upon arrival to the Doubtful Sound in Fiordland we were informed that the reason for our itinerary change (we had been scheduled to go to the Milford Sound) was in fact due to an unexpected upgrade. The boat usually used was being serviced so we instead all had double en suite rooms on the stunning 'Milford Cruiser' on an overnight cruise. We were later informed that in summer these rooms go for about $1000 per night - and we had the boat to ourselves!

To say that Doubtful Sound was stunning is an enormous understatement, we cruised around the waters in the silent surroundings hearing birds, spotting seals and looking out for the elusive penguins. The water was so still and we had such a clear and crisp day that the views were mirrored on the water - James was in heaven with his super-duper camera. We had a guide who was an expert on all things soundy - although apparently despite being called a Sound, it actually is not. She gave us information on all the history of the flora and fauna and because the weather was so calm we could sail right up to the New Zealand Fur seal colony that are in permanent residence at the mouth. They were totally indifferent to us and looked very lazily back at us as if we were an attraction too! They were lovely though and we spotted a few around in the waters later on in the evening.

Later on James and two mad American girls - one identical to Cameron Diaz, jumped off the back of the boat in to the freezing water. The whole experience lasted only about 10 seconds as they swam straight back in to the boat blue with cold, but they later assured us all that it was 'nice and refreshing'. Jen was disappointed to miss out on the jump in to the water but she had contracted the tour bus cold lurgy and thought hypothermia would not help it shift and to be honest she is probably too sensible anyway, if you are already wearing 4 layers it's not time to jump into icy water.

Dinner was served later and it was a feast, the food was amazing and as it was a buffet the tour group definitely got their money's worth, (as if the boat hadn't already guaranteed that!) James came back from the dessert table with a piece of everything going! We had a fun evening, it got better after we admitted defeat when playing Trivial Pursuit upon realising our general knowledge from the 1980's was pretty poor, given we only graced the last 3 years of it with our presence.

The next day took us down a quiet inlet of the Sound called Deep Cove where the water is incredibly still and so we took some brilliant photos as it is famously one of the most beautiful spots in New Zealand. We slowly made our way back to the little harbour and disembarked. This was a place we definitely will come back too in the future. It scored 10/10 from both of us.

The final leg of the tour took us to a ski lodge in Ohau where we stayed over and went star gazing in the clearest sky we had ever seen - we saw about 8 shooting stars, but no sign of the promised Southern Lights. The next day we travelled via Lake Pukaki and Lake Tekapo where we took countless amazing photos as the lakes are unbelievably blue and surrounded by mountains. We then went and visited a sheep farm where we were served tea and scones and treated to a shearing show. We got to hold baby lambs and saw the sheep dogs at work. We were each given a sheepdog whistle, unfortunately this included James whose constant whistling thereafter plagued the bus and Jen well in to future in the confines of the camper van....

The tour finished in style in Christchurch with a meal out with the guides and 'Neck' the bus driver, we all exchanged facebook details and went our separate ways, but it was defiantly a brilliant week and very well run tour. We were looking forward to getting our Camper Van the next day and starting our self-drive adventure!
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