The smell of rotten eggs engulfed us once we drove into Rotorua. Located within the geothermal areas of the North Island, Rotorua is the place to go for an authentic mud adventure. The muds are famous for their bathing, relaxation, healing and overall well-being. It has been used by the Maori for more than 800 years.
Spot the face!
There are plenty of parking spots on site right outside the entrance. We chose to have the geothermal walk to explore the park first and enjoy the mud bath and spa later. It was right in the middle of winter which makes the experience even better – less crowds and having a hot spa in winter is just perfect.
There is a path that leads off the the hot water fall, looking like a scene out of fairytale
We had the opportunity to try out the Wai Ora Mud Bath & Spa package (NZD105). It includes the geothermal walk, private mud bath experience and the sulphur spa.
Public mud bath area
Sulphur spa pool area for you to relax in after the private mud bath experience
The private mud experience is wonderful because of the privacy that comes with it. Especially if you are going to get ‘mugly’!
We left Rotorua, longing for that familiar rotten egg scent which had turned pleasantly soothing and wonderfully experienced Hells Gate!
Thanks to Hells Gate for the unique experience and making this trip possible! As always, all opinions are my own to provide my readers unbiased content.
Milford Sound which is named by some as the 8th Wonder of The World , is one destination to put on your checklist when visiting New Zealand. To enjoy the beauty of it, it is highly recommended to take the cruise which departs from the ferry terminal. There are a couple of operators and they do have different itineraries to suit various preferences. I went on a fantastic experience with Cruise Milford which truly showcased the beauty of Milford Sound.
The question is how to make your way to Milford Sound if you are not on a helicopter tour. It is about 4 hours drive (one-way) away from adventure capital of the world, Queenstown. That means a whopping of 8 hours drive alone, especially straining if there is just one driver. Fret not, because the journey from Queenstown to Milford Sound is as breathtaking as the destination. Check out some of the useful information about the drive to Milford Sound from Cruise Milford. Road condition changes quickly, it is always a good practise to check it regularly if you are driving in winter because roads do get closed due to heavy snowfall. One good place to check is New Zealand Transport Agency. Milford Sound has about 200 days of rain in a year, do not be put off by the rain because there are much more waterfalls to be seen.
A quick trip to Milford sound can be done in a day, either through a coach or self-drive. A return coach trip costs about NZD80 which usually comes with a packed lunch and a humorous guide, it varies among different operators. But that being said, you will miss all the gorgeous pit-stop places along the way. I suggest a 2-3 day journey with a night stop at Te Anau. It is a beautiful town that lies at the border of Fiordland National Park and also the start of Milford Road (SH94 to Milford Sound). The Te Anau glowworm caves are also located here. We spent two nights here, with the day in between driving to and fro Milford Sound. We got a hooked up site at Te Anau Lakeview Kiwi Holiday Park completed with wi-fi and excellent facilities, it was a steal. Initially, we chose it because of the 40% promotion on Britz app which costs NZD28 for a night. We were literally the only campervan on the 2nd night, probably due to the snow storm warnings and hence trips from Queenstown were affected.
SH 6, shortly after leaving Queenstown
On route to Te Anau after a night of freedom camping in Queenstown
Take an evening troll around the waters in Te Anau and watch the sun goes down.
Milford Road is extremely scenic, one of my favourite is definitely the Eglinton Valley.
The scenery changed as we got closer to Milford Sound.
Plenty of photos opportunity while waiting for the Homer Tunnel traffic. The road was closed since the night before due to snowfall.
A Kea came to check us out during the wait. It is the world’s only alpine parrot, a very smart and curious creature.
There are no vehicles parking at the ferry terminal, the parking is located about 10 mins away and enjoy the stroll to the terminal. The guy at the booth told us that given the passengers load for our timing, it was perfect for moving around the decks.
Cruise Milford is at berth 3, subjected to changes though.
The sky literally cleared for us when we were about to set off, truly blessed.
We got this private area to ourselves, the upper deck is definitely better for the views. Coffee/Tea and cookies were provided in the lower deck for guests.
The Captain announced that he was bringing the cruise under the falls and anyone could try to go under it.
This dude was prepared for it, head to toe in Gore-Tex.
Imagine the views out there
Caught some seals camouflaged on the rocks.
A rainbow awaited us on the way back, couldn’t get any prettier isn’t it?
Enough of the beauty, time for a long drive back to Te Anau
Woke up the next morning in Te Anau with fresh snow all over