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Make no mistake, this IS a full-day trip 7:00 am to 7:00 pm. While most of it is spent on a bus to and from Milford Sound, the scenery and stops along the way make it worthwhile. Out of Queenstown the bus takes you along the scenic Lake Wakatipu, with stops in Te Anau, Fiordland National Park, Mirror Lakes, and the Chasm. The bus was large, new, and comfortable, with expansive windows to take in the views. Our driver, Marcus, was knowledgeable and provided wonderful commentary throughout the drive. He was also particular about keeping to schedule. He even pointed out a couple of keas somewhat large parrots that have an inexplicable fondness for the rubber linings found around car windows.
The boat cruise itself is very enjoyable and comfortable, with completely enclosed cabins for those that wish to avoid any wind and rain, and outdoor decks for those inclined to weather the elements. The day I took the tour was windy and rainy, and I was a little disappointed that I wouldn't get to see the glorious forest-covered mountainsides. However, my disappointment vanished when I was privy to the many gushing waterfalls, which tend to disappear entirely soon after it's stopped raining. Moreover, we were told that virtually 2 out of every 3 days is rainy.
The Captain of the boat took us close to a few waterfalls, and pointed out some fur seals that were basking on rocks near the shore. The highlight for many passengers myself included, however, was when the Captain nudged the nose of the boat into one of the waterfalls. Some of us donned ponchos available for NZ 7.50 on the boat and held onto the railings at the nose of the boat as the waterfall cascaded fiercely upon us. The water, I was expecting the wind, I was not. The wind whipped open the buttons along the sides of my poncho, and I was struggling to keep it together. And all the while I had the biggest smile on my face.
On the boat they provided a buffet lunch, with a fairly good selection and variety of food. The quality of the food was reasonable, considering this was a cruise boat we were on. They had ice cream after lunch, and coffee and hot chocolate were available throughout.
There are several day tour options, and this is not the least expensive. However, I'd rate this tour as being worth every penny.
Bus with a bathroom and a smart witty guide. Good show!
All around an excellent tour. Our guide unfortunately I forget his name was very knowledgeable and engaging with the tourists. There are several stops along the way to Milford Sound that were nice, only one area was the typical tourist trap with shops / bathrooms. The boat cruise was lovely as was the Indian food on board.
Tip that you can actually FLY back to Queenstown versus taking the 4 hour bus. We were able to book this option during the tour - it was about 500 USD total for two people...well worth it given how tired we were and how winding the bus way.
Note that it's very important to be outside your hotel for the pickup. The bus will leave without you!
Being able to do this as a one day tour from Queenstown - I was very pleased. The scenery was spectacular, we were kept engaged during the long bus ride and given much information about New Zealand as well as places and things we saw on our tour. Even on the way back, we were able to watch a movie about a New Zealand true storey that made the drive very pleasant and interesting.
It really a worthy tour, the driver + guide is excellent.
Even if it was raining I have been told this is the case in 2 of 3 days there absolutely worth it.
The best tour you can get in Queenstown! Breathtaking...highly recommended.
Highly Recommended..Nice Cruise, Friendly Guides and Beautiful place and good food. Worth for money.
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