Today was our final full-day in Queenstown and we had planned our (re)scheduled flight out to Milford Sound from Friday. I called early in the AM to confirm that the flight was still on but they didn’t make confirmations until 1-hour before. So we called again at 9 am and got the good news that we were going to be on our-way.
We checked in for the flight and after getting weighed (like livestock) to ensure the plane was balanced, we were given our “tickets” to board the plane and were told that we’d be back in about 4 hours. We were initially confused but didn’t say anything as what we had booked was actually just for a plane ride and not the boat cruise as well. However, in all of the re-booking, I think we ended up either going solo which they didn’t really want to do or were providing us the boat ride so they could keep everyone together.
After getting paired up with another two folks, we walked across the street through a back gate of Queenstown airport and were given our safety demonstration and overview from our pilot Jason. I was given the opportunity to co-pilot the plane (read: sit shotgun) for our 40-minute flight up to Milford Sound. The flight was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen- just mountains and forest surrounded by more mountains and forest for 30+ minutes as we made our way over 3 mountain ranges. With about 10 minutes to go, we finally saw the front of Milford Sound and flew right between the mountains just 500 feet or so above the water through the range to the airport.
Upon landing, we met the other plane group and went on scenic walk as we killed time before the boat ride. We arrived at the “pier” and boarded the ship for our 90-minute ride out the sound to the front of the ocean and back. It was an incredible way to see the the sights as we slowly cruised along, seeing a few of the waterfalls, seals, and just taking in the natural beauty.
After the boat ride ended, we boarded a brief bus to get back to the plane and loaded back up for our return flight home. We went a different way back than we had taken on the way up there so we could see another set of scenery for the trip, including new mountain ranges and glaciers. All in all, the flights were awesome- such a great way to see a natural wonder and also much better than a 9-hour round trip bus-ride.
We got back to town and hadn’t eaten lunch yet so found a quick Sushi spot to fill us up. We then decided to go on our final hike of the NZ trip and hiked up the Tiki Trail to where the skylift track ended. While it was only 41 minutes up (and 39 down), the hike was one of the hardest we’d done as it was nearly straight up the entire time.
Upon reaching the top, I convinced Debbie to do the luge with me while John and Jennie hung out inside. We had a great 3-rides down the tracks (once down the beginner track, twice down the advanced track) and had a ton more fun than expecting from the touristy-trap activity. We descended the mountain as the sun was setting and aside from my brief tumble down the mountain (note: allbirds are not good for hiking), everyone made it down safely (all good here).
We came back to freshen up before heading back into town once more to the World Bar for our goodbye NZ/John & Jennie meal and coming back home to pack everything up.
New Zealand has been a blast- it’s one of Debbie’s favorite places and the longest time spent in a single country on the trip. While it’s super far from all of you in the US, would definitely recommend a visit. I hope we’ll be back here soon.
Next up for the HoneyMeyers- a return to Sydney for another 2 nights before heading back up to Asia! Stay tuned for our next post!