“The Eglinton Valley

Queenstown to Milford Sound, New Zealand. April 2019. (12 photos)

This is Part 2 of my trilogy of New Zealand 2019 photo series.

In 2017 I visited the Queenstown region of New Zealand.

In 2018 I visited the Auckland region of New Zealand.

In April this year I returned to the Queenstown region. This is the second in a trilogy of posts about my most recent trip there. Part 1 of this series was about ballooning, Above Queenstown: The flight of the dragon


Edit: Since writing this post, I made a quick trip to Auckland in October 2019. That may form a separate post later… or not.


In a straight line, Milford Sound is about 74km from Queenstown but because of the impossible intervening terrain there is no road to match that route. Instead the most direct route to Milford Sound from Queenstown is a 287km drive that would take about 4 hours if you did not stop along the way. But stopping along the way is something you must do several times because the landscapes along the Te Anau-Milford Highway are too beautiful not to admire. So here is my journey to Milford Sound and sights (some of them) seen along the way…

One of the first highlights after entering Fiordland National Park is the Eglinton Valley which you see above. It was carved out by glaciers thousands of years ago. Today, steep rocky mountains covered in native beech forest line the valley. The flat floor of the valley is covered in golden tussock grass. Several areas in the Eglinton Valley were locations in the Lord of the Rings movies, in particular the Eglinton mountains which represented the Misty Mountains in the Fellowship of the Ring.

“Mirror Lakes”

The Mirror Lakes were created when the Eglinton River shifted its course long ago, leaving two river bends behind to form what is known as ‘oxbow’ lakes. Together with the Eglinton River they form part of the largest system of inland waterways in New Zealand. The Mirror Lakes are famous for their beauty and the way they reflect their surrounding scenery. On a calm day, such as the day I visited, they provide reflections of the Earl mountain ranges opposite. New Zealand’s smallest duck, the scaup or pāpango, live in the Mirror Lakes and other Eglinton Valley waterways, as do the grey duck or pārera.

If you have a very keen eye, you may see a small green/yellow sign at the waterline in the photo above, just to the right of middle. It says “Mirror Lakes” upside down, so that the sign’s reflection reads correctly. Yes, I have telephoto photographic proof of that.

“Mirror Lakes”

“Cascade Creek”

“Falls Creek Falls”

“Gertrude Valley”

After about 5 hours, I eventually reached Milford Sound where I took a cruise.

“Cruising Milford Sound”

Milford Sound is a fiord in the southwest of New Zealand’s South Island. The fiord is home to fur seal colonies, penguins and dolphins.

“Milford Sound”

Milford Sound was carved by glaciers during the ice ages. Described by Rudyard Kipling as the ‘eighth wonder of the world’, Milford Sound is acclaimed as New Zealand’s most famous tourist destination.


The fiord’s cliffs rise vertically from the dark waters, mountain peaks scrape the sky and waterfalls cascade downwards from as high as 1000 metres.

“Stirling Falls”

Milford Sound is known for its rainforests and waterfalls such as Stirling Falls (above). Stirling Falls is 155 metres high and it is one of only two permanent waterfalls in Milford Sound. On a rainy day, there may be hundreds of waterfalls. Being a permanent waterfall, the cruises on Milford Sound generally power gently into the spray of Stirling Falls which is enough to give you a generous soaking if you so desire. With camera safely in my bag, I so desired.

“Mitre Peak”

The icon of Milford Sound is Mitre Peak, the towering peak in the background above.

“Flying high”

Rather than return to Queenstown by road, after the cruise I’d prearranged a charter flight to take me back to Queenstown which offered stunning views as it skimmed over snow covered mountain ranges and high mountain lakes.


This is Part 2 of my trilogy of New Zealand 2019 photo series.

Part 1 of this trilogy was Above Queenstown: The flight of the dragon

Part 3 of this trilogy is Otago and that Wanaka Tree

Leica Etcetera, Photography Etcetera

Milford Sound and Sights


52 thoughts on “Milford Sound and Sights

  1. Just spectacular. You sure do get around these days. So happy for you. I must admit that I’ve been wondering about Biggus lately. Do you ever cross paths with him in Sydney? Wishing you a pleasant voyage home.

    • NZ ticks many boxes as a travel destination, as you know. Still haven’t and will never participate in a bunny jump though. 🙂

      Biggus? Now, that’s a question from left field. I think I last saw him 3 years ago, in a bookstore. No encounters since. A quick online search indicates he was photographed by someone in 2018. I’ll let you know if I see him again.

  2. josypheen says:

    Beeeeeautiful photos (as always!) It looks so different on a sunny day!

    We visited Milford Sound in the rain, and ohmygoodness it was one of the few places in the world that was just as good on rainy days! There were hundreds of extra waterfalls splashing down those cliffs- it was like a giant pin-striped suit.

  3. Beautiful! A dear friend just returned from a trip to New Zealand and he just can say “Aww” on repeat…

    Enjoy S’pore! Will you go to that brewery on top of a skyscraper?


    • You must go, if you haven’t previously. It is a very beautiful country.

      I know of the brewery you speak of and it is on my list, but for another time. The Botanic Gardens, Marina Barrage and street satay markets took up more of my time than I anticipated on this most recent visit.

    • Milford Sound has been on my list for a while. If I had more time, I would have incorporated a trek/hike. It’s definitely worth the effort to visit.

      I’m back home now. Spent much time in the UNESCO listed Singapore Botanic Gardens this time and visited a few new places as well. Also other countries in the region – photos later. Sydney photos will have to wait. I suppose it all depends on one’s point of view. For someone who doesn’t live in Sydney, local photos are more interesting than they seem to me.

  4. I’m not sure where your home stomping grounds are, but from where I sit there’s no such thing as a quick trip to New Zealand.


    Just the same, I did get there a couple times in the 80s, and would love to do it again. Guess I’ll just have to enjoy it vicariously through your photos, for now.

    • I’m in Sydney, so I’m fortunate that NZ is only a 3 hour flight away (actually it’s closer than the West Coast of Australia). I’m glad you’ve had the chance to visit it for yourself. It’s a beautiful country.

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