Archive | Travel tips RSS feed for this section
31. Mar, 2013

Spectacular Beauty of Milford Sound Unfolds at Altitude

With spectacular waterfalls, dramatic sheer cliffs, lush rainforest and piercing blue water, New Zealand’s Milford Sound is the pinnacle of natural beauty.

Nestled on the south west of New Zealand’s South Island, Milford Sound’s dramatic primeval landscape is a particularly special creation of nature.

Subsequently it comes as no surprise that a visit to this secluded piece of paradise is a highlight for both New Zealanders and international visitors alike. Consistently rated as one of the most beautiful places in the world by travel writers and publications, it was judged the world’s top travel destination in a 2008 TripAdvisor survey. Rudyard Kipling also once described Milford Sound as the ‘eighth natural wonder of the world’.

The most recognised fiord in the region, Milford Sound runs for approximately 16km from the open Tasman sea to the head of the fiord.  Close to a million tourists visit every year to marvel at the geological forces that during the Ice Age created sheer cliffs which plunge into the fiord at depths of 100-450 metres.

Despite the proliferation of natural elements which are each striking in their own right, many believe that Milford Sound’s crowning jewel is in fact the impressive Mitre Peak. Rising up to 1,693m, the prominent mountain actually consists of five individual summits and looks particularly magnificent when it stands proud snowcapped in winter.

While some argue that the two hour journey to Milford Sound taking the alpine Milford Road from Te Anau (119km) is the best way for the region to unveil its beauty, it is in fact flying from Queenstown that offers a breathtaking and unrivalled vista that only can only be experienced at altitude.

Milford Sound Scenic Flights offers the best of both worlds with its fly-cruise-fly combo package which lets you absorb the sheer scale and beauty of the landscape from both the sky and on the water.

Elbowing for a good vantage point is never a problem with this reputable tour operator as every passenger gets their own window seat on the plane. The perfect solution for those arguments about who is going to sit in the aisle seat!

Departing from Queenstown, the flight to Milford Sound offers a distinctive advantage by offering unobstructed views of the other picturesque lakes, mountains and fiords in the World Heritage Fiordland National Park.

Once you arrive at Milford Sound, a leisurely two hour boat trip lets you soak up the scenery from up close and explore all of the nooks and crannies of the fiord. On a fine day, the mirrored surface of the water reflects the surrounding majestic peaks leaving you with an indelible and unforgettable image.

The region’s unique eco-system makes Milford Sound one of the wettest places in New Zealand – raining 182 days of the year. The result of this weather pattern is a breathtaking underwater environment which supports many thriving marine wildlife including seals, penguins and dolphins which can often be seen from the cruise. Milford Sound also sustains the world’s biggest population of around seven million black coral trees, some of which are up to 200 years old and form a majority of the lush rainforest which surround the fiord.

During periods of high rainfall, a deluge of temporary waterfalls bore down from cliff faces, creating a magical spectacle along the fiord and the Milford Road. There are also two permanent waterfalls year-round; Lady Bowen Falls and Stirling Falls.

On the return leg back to Queenstown, the flight path takes you over Sutherland Falls and shimmering glaciers of Fiordland’s National Park before cruising back over the Southern Alps and Lake Wakatipu.

Milford Sound is named after Milford Haven in Wales while the Maori name is ‘Piopiotahi’ which means a single piopio, a now extinct thrush-like bird. This dates back to a Maori legend about when Maui attempted to gain immortality for mankind. When he died as a result, it is alleged that a piopio flew to Milford Sound in mourning.

A visit to Milford Sound will leave you safe with the knowledge that you have experienced one of the most pristine and naturally beautiful destinations in the world.

Where is Milford Sound?
295km from Queenstown (4 hours 15 mins drive time)
121km from Te Anau (2 hours 15 mins drive time)

Milford Sounds Scenic Flights (Fly-Cruise-Fly)
Duration – approximately 4 hours (prices vary depending on season)

For more information visit www.milfordflights.co.nz

25. Feb, 2011

How To Pack For Your Next Trip

Every first-time flyer’s worst nightmare begins something like this. Your bag is packed and ready to go. Your book and iPod are ready to go in your hand luggage.  After shuffling your way through the crowds, you finally get on the plane. After the 6-hour flight, you wait for your checked baggage at the airport only to find it is ‘missing’.  Now what?

First of all, take a deep breath. This will probably not happen to you – although the 2010 Air Transport Industry Baggage Report declared that 25 million (yes, twenty five million) million pieces of luggage go missing each year. 

That’s a shocking 1 for every 100 pieces of checked in luggage.

You need to be prepared for this situation. Make sure you have your passport, money, a toothbrush and toothpaste, and a spare change of clothes in your carry-on with you. If you’re travelling as a couple, it’s a good idea to split up your clothes and put some your hand luggage.
 
When you realise your bag is missing, and after reality sets in, you need to file a claim with customer service or the baggage claim desk. Sometimes airports will give you an overnight bag of general supplies: toothbrush, toothpaste, some deodorant, and pyjamas if you are lucky.

But don’t expect the finest silk pyjamas!  Qantas recently “mislaid” our luggage on a short haul evening flight from Auckland to Brisbane.  They were “kind enough” to give us an overnight bag and Qantas branded t-shirt and shorts to sleep in that were 6 times too small! 

Ask baggage claim to make a copy of any documents for you to keep of anything you sign. This goes for receipts too. If your luggage comes back broken, you can file a claim for broken luggage, purchases you had to make while your luggage was gone, and you have proof of your claim.

When you make it to your hotel, try to relax. Think of it this way, at least you don’t have to unpack. There will probably be a local discount store close to your hotel. Go to the store and pick up some necessities. Make sure you don’t over-load at the store—just get what you absolutely need. Your luggage will most likely arrive tomorrow.

In addition, never pack more than you can carry. For example, if you are headed to France it’s good to know that the French either walk everywhere or take the Subway. You need to be able to carry your suitcase up and down multiple flights of stairs because you will be hauling your suitcase through the Subway. Moreover, it’s completely acceptable to wear the same pair of jeans more than once! 

If you are travelling in the middle of winter, make sure you wear layers. You do not need seven pairs of pants, fourteen shirts, and five sweatshirts for a week’s trip. Be practical.

In summary, below are some tips to help you pack smart and enjoy your trip. 

*  Invest in a money belt. It holds your two most important items—money and passport. 
*  Split up your clothes between your hand-luggage and your checked luggage. 
*  If your bag is missing, file a claim. Keep a copy of your claim and all receipts. 
*  Never pack more than you can carry up and down multiple flights of stairs. 
*  Remember to have fun and enjoy your trip.