I’ve just travelled to one of the most beautiful places in the country in the best possible way – by plane.
Admittedly it’s the only way I know, having never been to Milford Sound before.
But the option of a 10-hour return scenic road trip just doesn’t have the same appeal as a spectacular 70-minute return journey by air to the World Heritage Area.
I arrive at the Real Journeys hangar in Frankton and meet Simon, our friendly pilot. Eight of us load into the nine-seat plane and I jump into the adjoining seat in the cockpit.
As we head down the runway, suddenly it dawns on me that I’ll be flying in a tiny plane that doesn’t seem as invincible as a passenger jet aircraft.
I’m told the Britten Norman Islander is a very safe small plane but you can’t help having the odd twinge of panic when it hits an air pocket with the mountains just beneath us.
Flying at about 8000ft – often nail-bitingly close to snow-capped peaks – this part of the experience is just about as adrenaline-pumping as a bungy jump. The scenery is amazing and we even get to see Mt Aspiring and Mt
Cook. It’s a privilege to have such a great view of the landscape.
It’s not long before we enter Fiordland National Park and the rugged West Coast. Landing smoothly at Milford Airport, we board a bus which takes us to the boat terminal.
True to West Coast form, the weather isn’t the best but the mist and cloud add to the beauty. It’s a pretty amazing place – towering mountains that stand straight out of the sea, giant waterfalls, Fiordland crested penguins, New Zealand fur seals and Bottlenose dolphins are among the smorgasbord of visual pleasures from aboard the Milford Sound Sovereign.
The relaxing 100-minute cruise is over before you know it and it’s time to board the plane for another enthralling flight, this time taking a different route home for alternative views.
The entire journey is a perfect mix of thrills and tranquility.
Forget the controversial tunnel or monorail proposals – flying is the way to go.
All you need to know
What Milford Sound Fly-Scenic Cruise-Fly
Where Queenstown to Milford Sound
Cost $398 (lunch included)
Book 0800 65 65 03