Queenstown to Milford Sound for example: It's only 50 km by crow, but close to 300 km by car. And although the speed limit is 100 km/hr through most of the trip, the road is so windy at times that all of your passengers will get sick if you actually drove that fast.
After we left Christchurch, the vastness of the South Island become readily apparent, and we began to feel rushed (and confined to the car). If you're driving around with children (and you don't want to drug them), planning frequent stops is not a bad idea. The Moeraki Boulders, somewhere between Oamaru and Dunedin are definitely worth the time.
Probably the greatest invention ever. Part trampoline,
part bouncy castle. Lasko Girls: You will never again bounce
on one of these before getting into my car.
I was more than ready to call it a day long before we got to Dunedin, and were I planning the roadtrip again, I would probably cut out Dunedin entirely--not because it isn't worth seeing; but we had already been there, and it's a really long way from anywhere (except Invercargill, which we had to drop from the itinerary en route due to time constraints). From Dunedin, we made an overnight stop in Te Anau, which for some reason I was expecting to be a dot on the map with a few places to stay for the sane people that don't want to turn their Milford Sound experience into a 12 hour day by driving to/from Queenstown. Te Anau is a surprisingly nice town. Nicole preferred the supermarket to our own (except for the prices); there are three Italian restaurants (including one owned/operated by real Italians), and a beautiful lake. All very touristy, but so much nicer than Turangi.
|Milford Sound in the rain--yes, those are all waterfalls
Milford Sound in the wind.
Notice the waterfall on the right is vaporizing halfway down.
The boat companies say Milford Sound is better in the rain. I am guessing they just want to make sure people show up on the 200 days a year that it does rain. The 12,000 extra waterfalls were indeed fantastic, but the visibility was so poor, I feel the need to return someday when the forecast is better.