Milford Sound – is it worth it?

aka My Worst Day at New Zealand’s Number 1 Attraction

Milford Sound - is it worth it?
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Milford Sound – is it worth it? It’s often touted as New Zealand’s number 1 must visit attraction, but is it worth the hype?

That greatly depends. Many people come back from there with wonderful experiences having spotted seals, dolphins and penguins as they’ve glided their way on a beautiful boat through the majestic waters. I, however, want to tell you about my visit to Milford Sound, because well, I’m all about keeping it real and sharing what the likes of Lonely Planet probably won’t tell you…

Milford Sound - is it worth it?
Milford Sound – image not my own unfortunately. Image via Unsplash.

Although we had hired a car in New Zealand, neither of us really fancied driving the lengthy journey from Queenstown to Milford Sound, so we booked an organised coach tour. There are plenty of operators based in Queenstown but we chose to go with Jucy.

Our driver Lucy (you can’t make this up!) picked us up in the morning and remained bright and friendly throughout our trip. She told us all stories of her childhood on a farm and made several rest stops on route. Sadly for us, the weather was not being kind and even though we’re British and quite used to the rain, the more than damp weather was dampening our spirits the closer we got to Milford Sound.

After a long journey, we made it to the boat where the rain was still pouring and the wind was blowing a gale. The crew on board could obviously sense our coach load of disappointment as they tried to remain enthusiastic and marvelled at the many waterfalls spilling down the rocks because of the torrential downpour. I don’t know if they were genuinely that excited about the waterfalls or if they were just putting a positive spin on things in order to lift our spirits.

Many waterfalls can be seen at Milford Sound when it rains
Expect to see all the waterfalls when it rains

We received lunch on board the boat – wraps, cookies and drinks. I chose a falafel wrap and shortly afterwards found myself in the toilets with an upset stomach.

Needless to say, the rest of my Milford Sound experience was spent locked in a cubicle. But I didn’t miss much as hubby didn’t see any wildlife or rainbows beyond the drizzle and clouds, but he did venture out on deck to battle the elements. Sure, you could say it’s dramatic and atmospheric but when you’ve got food poisoning and you’re having panic attacks about spending another 5 hours stuck on a coach, who really cares?

What the travel guides DON'T show you about Milford Sound
* sigh *

The 90 minute boat ride was soon over and everyone was pretty keen to just get back to Queenstown. Lucy from Jucy had to ask another couple (who had prime location seats at the front of the coach) to switch with us so I could be at the front of the coach incase I needed to ‘go’ again. I would have felt guilty and mortified had all my energy not been focussed on making it through the next 5 or so hours. The trouble with New Zealand is that rest stops are few and far between but fortunately having dosed myself up with the necessary medication, I made it back to Queenstown just fine.

And thus concludes the worst day I had in my whole backpacking trip down under.

Milford Sound in bad weather
Image taken by my hubby ūüôā

So, is it worth it?

In my opinion, no. Perhaps if we’d driven ourselves and stopped in Te Anau for a night maybe? But I feel it is my duty to present the less glossy, sunny and perfect side to travel.

There are two sides to every story of course, so if you want to read a good experience of Milford Sound then I’m sure there are a bazillion other travel bloggers out there who will gladly share that.

Milford Sound in New Zealand
Here’s what we *could* have seen. Image via Pixabay

Have you been to Milford Sound? What did you think? Or have you had Travellers Tummy at the worst moment? Share, we’re all friends here!

You can find some of my more pleasant New Zealand adventures right here.

Around the world in 7 weeks - a video diary

Around the World in 7 weeks – a video diary

Around the world in 7 weeks

Exactly one year ago today, on 16th October 2015, me and my husband were on a flight from London to Singapore to embark on a whirlwind seven week trip around the world. Regretting never taking a gap year as students, we decided to ask for a career break and were granted those weeks Рnot as long as we had hoped for but still long enough for an epic adventure.

We had a brief two night stopover in Singapore before flying on to Australia for a couple of weeks РOz being one of my all time favourite places. The main reason for our desire to head Down Under however, was an (almost) month-long road trip around New Zealand. After our epic road trip we stopped over in Fiji for some relaxation and culture (I never thought I would ever get to Fiji!) before finally crossing over the International Date Line and reliving 1st December all over again in Los Angeles where we spent a few more nights.

So for you, in video form, here is our awesome, amazing adventure!

Around the world in 7 weeks …in 7 minutes!

National Pink Day!

Apparently today is National Pink Day. Hello, did no one tell the Mean Girls because today is Thursday and on Wednesdays we wear pink!

Oh yes if there’s two things I love it’s a Mean Girls quote and the colour pink. So in honour of National Pink Day I thought I would share with you not one, not two, but TEN¬†pink themed photographs taken by myself or by¬†my husband’s fair hand.

Tokyo, Japan
This pretty picture was taken during the cherry blossom season at the canal in Naka Meguro, Tokyo. If you’re thinking of visiting Japan in spring then check out my post Cherry Blossoms in Japan to see where else I saw the sakura.

Cherry blossoms at the canal in Naka Meguro in Tokyo, Japan - Photo by

Florida, USA
Taken at the Magic Kingdom theme park at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, I captured the castle lit up in pretty hues of pink, purple and orange while the firework show was taking place. The firework show is a must-do for any Disney theme park visit.

Disney castle lit up pink during the fireworks display at Magic Kingdom, Orlando, Florida

Peradeniya, Sri Lanka
These charming orchids caught my eye at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Sri Lanka as they remind me of the singing flowers in Alice in Wonderland. Actually, they are pretty proud of their orchids in Sri Lanka!

Beautiful flowers at the Royal Botanical Garden in Sri Lanka

Havana, Cuba
If you follow me on instagram then you’re probably sick of the sights of this car but in my defense it’s not every day you get to ride around in a fuschia pink 1952 chevrolet!

1952 pink chevrolet in Havana, Cuba. A must do for any girl about town!

Lake Tekapo, New Zealand
I love this photo. I was obsessed with these lupins and this lake during my brief visit to New Zealand. To be fair, all the scenery in New Zealand is like some sort of instagrammer’s dream. But seriously, look how pretty these pink and purple lupins are against the blue of the sky and water!

Lupins at Lake Tekapo in New Zealand - an instagrammer's dream!

Las Vegas, USA
I have no idea why we didn’t stay in the Flamingo hotel given that I love flamingos! Nevertheless we did go and have a nosey about and I took this photo of the bright lights in all their glory.

Bright lights of the fabulously pink Flamingo Hotel on the Las Vegas strip.

Port Douglas, Australia
I heart Port Douglas. If I could retire there I probably would. We took a walk along the beach at sunset and I captured the soft candy coloured hues of the sun setting in the sky. Bliss!

Soft candy coloured hues of the sun setting on Four Mile Beach in Port Douglas, Australia.

Wellington, New Zealand
Another New Zealand pic, another botanic garden. The weather was not great in Windy Welly but we cheered ourselves up with a little look around the gardens and snapped a few colourful flower shots!

Sweet pink blossom on the trees at Wellington Botanic Garden, New Zealand

Kyoto, Japan
Kind of an obvious one this, but the shop is called Pink Latte so it already earnt its place in the gallery by that alone. I didn’t buy anything in here but you betcha I dragged hubby through it so I could look at all the Kawaii going on in there!

Pink Latte shop in Kyoto, Japan

Arashiyama, Japan
Yep Japan makes it in the gallery for a third time! But this photo is a little bit special as it has little ol’ me in there with my pink clothes and pink hair standing infront of a pink bush with my boring yet functional black bag. Doh.

Pink and more pink in Arashiyama, Japan

I hope this post left you feeling tickled pink! If orange is more your bag then click here. Or if blue’s more your hue then you might like this pinterest board.

Happy National Pink Day!

Where to see wild seals in New Zealand

where to see wild seals in new zealand

Where to see wild seals in New Zealand

This post could quite easily also be called Free things to do in Kaikoura or What to do in Kaikoura when weather ruins play but I thought I would go with the one that would grab my attention, after all who wouldn’t want to know where to go seal spotting¬†in New Zealand?!

Initially we had booked a stay in Kaikoura in order to swim with seals. Sure, you can swim with dolphins there but I thought being able to swim with adorable New Zealand fur seals would be something completely unique.

Sadly, it wasn’t meant to be. Although the sun was high in the sky, the sea was cloudy because of the previous day’s poor weather. So our seal swimming adventures were over before they had even begun. We decided to book a whale watching excursion as an alternative but luck was not on our side and all whale watching trips were cancelled too.

I wasn’t too disappointed because we still had a wonderful day and managed to get closer to the New Zealand fur seals than I had ever imagined – AND without getting wet!

A seal swimming in Ohau stream, Kaikoura

We drove to Ohau Point seal colony where we parked up and took a walk to the waterfall with the promise of potentially spotting a few young seals frolicking in the water. The walk was much shorter than expected and there were seals everywhere! They jumped and played in the waterfall, they lolloped around on the rocks. We were careful not to disturb them but two of the little scamps were playing on the path merely a metre away from where we stood! We watched them for a while and even as we left we saw more seals swimming along in the shallow waters beside us.

Ohau waterfall - a beautiful place to see seal pups swimming

Adorable seal pup at Ohau Point, New Zealand

See New Zealand fur seals - free things to do in Kaikoura

Our next stop was to drive down to the peninsula where another colony of seals could be found. One of the seals was even occupying a car park space! The rest of the seals were lolling around on the rocks which we climbed down on to in order to take a few pictures. Again, we were careful not to get too close as the car park seal already made it clear that I was invading its personal space when I stopped for a photo! (I really wasn’t that close either!).

Funny seal thinks its a car!

Seals on the peninsula in Kaikoura

We finished our day with a drive up to the lookout where we could see the stunning views of Kaikoura below.

View of Kaikoura in New Zealand's South Island

Even though the day didn’t go quite as planned, it was still one of my favourite days in New Zealand.

Here’s a little video I made from clips I shot on my mobile phone.

If you’re feeling inspired, why not take a look at my other New Zealand posts or check out my New Zealand board on Pinterest. My YouTube channel is also here.

Hot Water Beach – Tourist Trap or Must See?

Hot Water Beach, New Zealand

Hot Water Beach is one of the most famous beaches in New Zealand. It is often listed as a guide book ‘must-do’ due to the hot water bubbling through the sand, where if you dig in the right spot you can make your own spa pool right there on the beach!

A crowd of tourists digging their own thermal spas on Hot Water Beach in New Zealand
A cluster of people in the hot spot on the beach

Some planning is required when visiting Hot Water Beach as you should aim to visit two hours either side of low tide if you’re wanting to take advantage of this unique attraction. When we arrived at the beach in the morning, armed with some spades we had borrowed from our accommodation, there was already a coach-load of tourists digging and wallowing in one small area of the beach – some were even sipping champagne while soaking themselves in the natural hot springs!

Hot Water Beach - tourist trap or must do?
Jostling for space at the prime digging location

It’s quite an unusual experience BUT you can’t just dig anywhere on the beach and expect glorious hot water to bubble up through. Although the large group of tourists had shown us where we could find the hot water, there didn’t appear to be many hot spots left for us, and when we did find some potential hot spots, the tide came in and filled the hole we’d dug full of cold sea water much quicker than we could dig!

This is the half of Hot Water Beach that isn't full of tourists digging and lolling around in their beach spas.
The other half of the beach was empty!

Eventually, we kind of muscled our way in and got chatting to a group of American tourists who had found a hot spot but weren’t fast enough to create a little sand barrier wall to stop the cold water rushing in. 6 people are better than 2! So we managed to make ourselves a nice little hot water pool but to be honest by this point I was kind of over it.

Dig your own hot spa at this famous beach on The Coromandel Peninsula in New Zealand

So is Hot Water Beach a Tourist Trap or a Must Do Experience?

In my opinion,¬†I would edge towards voting it as a tourist trap. Don’t get me wrong, if you want the quirky experience of digging your own sandy spa and wallowing in a bath on the beach, then by all means check out the low tide times, grab a shovel and get digging! However, if you want a pretty and relaxing beach, then try Hahei or Cathedral Cove. And don’t be disappointed if you don’t manage to find a hot spot!

Top Tips

  • Check out the low tide times.
  • Bring a spade. Or hire one from the beach cafe.
  • Take a waterproof bag too.
  • Be careful because the water can be VERY hot.

Have you been to Hot Water Beach? Did you think it was a tourist trap or a must see?