Soaring to Milford Sound

Feb 14, 2018

f you know me or if you’ve followed my blog for a few years, you’ll know that I’ve never been a huge Valentine’s Day fan. Ryan and I don’t celebrate it by going on dates or buying gifts. I’ll acknowledge it for the sake of fun for the kids, but otherwise it’s just an ordinary day in our household. 
This year, however, Valentine’s Day was one for the books.
We started the day with breakfast at Bespoke Kitchen. We were out of groceries and tired of our morning yogurt ritual, so a hot meal was much appreciated. The food was incredible, and I left full but wanting more just to try all of the options.

When in New Zealand, a trip to Milford Sound is high on the “must do” list. We desperately wanted to visit,  but it is a 4 hour drive from Queenstown and sadly, our vacation days are rapidly depleting. We couldn’t possibly see it all in such a short trip


Unless we booked a scenic flight. 

Obviously it wouldn’t be cheap, but after much contemplation we decided that we might only be here once, so it was probably worth it. Besides, Briley was free! 
Ryan had called the night before to enquire, but there was no availability for Valentines day, and the forecast called for rain the day following. Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be.  As we ate breakfast, Ryan decided to call just to see if there were any cancellations. It was wishful thinking. The skies were clear, the weather was perfect, and it was Valentine’s Day. Much to our luck and surprise, the 12 pm slot for a flight and cruise had opened up! We booked it without hesitation and happily returned to the camper to pack a bag. 
We got picked up by a taxi and we were on our way to the airport! 

We were led to our plane, and hopped in excitedly. Aaralee and I sat beside each other in one row, while Ryan sat behind us with Briley on his lap. And then we were off!

The views were incredible, and I say that as someone who has experienced many scenic flights around the world. We flew over blue lakes and between the snow capped mountains of the fjordlands. We saw waterfalls cascading from cliffs and waves crashing on the shores of the Tasman Sea. 

The gentle turbulence rocked both girls to sleep. 

We were in awe, and we still had so much left to see. We landed at the Milford Sound airport and transferred by bus to the cruise terminal. 

Once there, we picked up our picnic lunches and boarded our boat. It was immediately beautiful, as we cruised past a roaring waterfall and into the sound towards the sea. 

We spotted seals sunbathing on the rocks and the skipper brought us in for a closer look. 
While the rest of the passengers were taking their photos of the seals, Ryan spotted something far more exciting... dolphins!! 
Aaralee is obsessed with the movie Dolphin Tale. To see dolphins in real life was like a dream come true. We caught a few more glimpses of them before we carried on. 

Briley was still tired, so I set her down on some seats inside and she slept for the remainder of the trip. 

The boat came nice and close to a huge waterfall, and Ryan and a few other crazy individuals stood at the front, getting absolutely soaked. 

Finally, we were back to the terminal and it was time to say goodbye to Milford Sound. Lucky for us, we still had a scenic flight to take us back to Queenstown. 

We took a bit of a different flight path back for more views of the sound and the beautiful mountains. It was pretty turbulent at times, and I was thankful for the timing of our trip. Only weeks ago, a car ride to the grocery store would have made me nauseous. I was able to relax and enjoy the ride, and Aaralee seemed to be a fan of the turbulence too. 

It was perfect, until descent.  Poor Briley cried in pain as her ears tried to equalize. I felt terrible as she sobbed, but once we landed she was back to her happy self and told us that she wanted to go on another airplane ride. 

We rode back to our campground, where we dropped off our bags and then set out in search of dinner. We decided on a Thai restaurant. Maybe it was the fact that I was really hungry, or maybe everything tastes better during pregnancy, but we had some of the best curry I’ve ever eaten. 
On our walk back to the campground, we stopped into a store where we found a tiny dolphin necklace, made out of the same seashells that Aaralee is so fond of.  She wore it proudly, still beaming from having seen her first dolphins earlier that day. 
We headed back to the camper, where we stopped at the park for a quick play before calling it a night. 
Days with kids are never perfect. Today was no exception. It was chaotic, extra work and there were a few tantrums. But months from now when I look back at Valentine’s Day 2018, I’ll remember the incredible day that we had together as a family. I’ll remember Briley’s chubby cheeks squished together as she wore the headset on the plane, and the look on Aaralee’s face when she saw her first dolphin. I’ll remember Ryan coming inside from the boat deck,  his clothes completely soaked and the huge smile on his face. 
When I reminisce about it, I’ll only remember that today was perfect. 


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