Milford Sound

Believed to have been discovered more than a 1,000 years ago by Maori, Milford Sound is New Zealand’s wettest inhabited place and one of the most known and beautiful fiords.  Despite its popularity, it is still a wonderfully calm place to visit.  The Sound actually received its name from John Grono, the first European settler to land on South Island.  It was named after the Welsh town of Milford Haven in Wales back in 1912.

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Milford Sound. Photo by Christine Wagner.

The Sound is just about 2 hours from Te Anau and 4 hours from Queenstown and so you could make this a day trip at a push or even better, spend a night or two at Milford Sound’s Lodge to get the full benefit of this stunningly beautiful area.

What is there to do?

Cruise

This is the must do activity when visiting the sound and whatever the weather, you will be amazed by the scenery.  Enjoy spotting the dolphins, tasting the refreshing water direct from the surrounding waterfalls and you may even have the chance to stand under Stirling Falls.  The cruise lasts from between 1 ¾ hours up to 3 hours depending upon how far you wish to travel and how much you want to see.  We recommend the Discover More Cruise which offers great value including a gourmet lunch, an on board nature guide and access to the Milford Discovery Centre.

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Milford Sound Cruise. Photo by missbossy.

Kayak

You can add on an hour of kayaking to the cruise package allowing you to get even closer to nature whilst being guided by an expert.   This is an activity suitable for all abilities and ages and certainly worth doing if you have the time.

Hike

Known as the ‘walking capital of the world’ due to its excellent network of tracks, if you love your hiking, add this to your places to visit list.  The walks vary in terms of length (taking from 30 minutes to 4 days!) and difficulty but there is something for everyone.  From rainforest to alpine vistas, you will be constantly entertained by nature.

Tell me more about Milford Sound’s Lodge

This is a perfect place to spend the night after a day of travelling to the Sound and exploring.  It gives you the chance to experience the Sound by night and more time to head out the next day before heading on….or staying another night!

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Milford Sound Lodge. Photo by jo cool.

We love the Riverside Chalets with their floor to ceiling windows allowing for terrific views.  However, at just under NZ$400 per night in the summer season, it may not suite everyone and so the Lodge offers everything from these luxurious chalets to camping and everything in between.  If you plan on taking the cruise excursion whilst at the Sound, you can save money by booking this at the same time as your stay.

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Manchester Covered

The Hotel

The recently opened Hotel Gotham takes its inspiration from Batman.  You will find stylish monochrome rooms with a splash of comic book colour and with all the usual hotel comforts.  Previously a bank, this hotel has retained and lovingly restored the beautiful architectural features and seamlessly fuses the old and new to create this stunning new quirky hotel.

The Restaurant

Australasia……and you have to go down under to reach it!  The entrance looks similar to the Louvre only much smaller.  Enter the glass pyramid structure, head down the stairs and await the flavours which will awaken those tastebuds.  A blend of Indonesian, Southeast Asian and Japanese flavours come together to offer dishes such as Pot-roasted lobster with kaffir lime, chilli and Thai basil and Rack of lamb with polenta and Japanese aubergine.  For those who can manage, desserts are a must with unique offerings such as Ginger and green tea cheesecake and Mango soufflé with coconut ice-cream and a mango soup.

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Australasia. Photo by Duncan Hill.

The Bar

If you want to head somewhere a little different, try Dusk Til Pawn.  This quirky cocktail bar is well disguised as a pawn shop but be brave enough to step inside and you will be treated to an array of good quality spirits and cocktails and it even has a good old fashioned jukebox.

The shop

We’re cheating here and having two!  For clothes, head to Junk which offers sustainable fashion that’s creative, playful, multi-cultural and distinctive and it’s all made in Manchester.

For music lovers out there, Piccadilly Records needs no more than just that mention.  For those of you less familiar, this is one of the world’s finest independent record shops and has awards to prove it.  If it’s a CD or vinyl you’re looking for and whether it’s disco or Balearic, this friendly shop is very likely to be able to find it for you.

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Piccadilly Records. Photo by Mark Wathieu.

The Gallery

The Whitworth Art Gallery is Manchester’s ‘Gallery in the Park’.  Recently reopened after a large refurbishment, you will find two new wings in which it can show off its historical and contemporary pieces.  You will find works by Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and watercolours by Turner alongside changing exhibitions.  Cornelia Paker’s signature piece, Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View, will be exhibited until the end of May.

The Hidden Gem

Funnily enough there is actually a church which is called the ‘Hidden Gem’ and so a mention must be given to this.  However, if you like books, a visit to Chetham’s is a must.  It was founded in 1653 and is the oldest public library in the English speaking world.  It’s closed from 12:30 pm until 1:30pm for lunch and at 4:30 pm for the day and so time your visit well.

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Chetham’s Library. Photo by Michael D Beckwith.

What not to miss in London

Hampstead Heath

It’s not just a lovely park to wonder around with great views back to central London but it has outdoor swimming facilities with all day prices starting from just £2 per adult.

A piece of Theatre of the unusual kind

If you like the theatre, then head to the West End and catch one of the many wonderful shows being staged (and don’t forget that you can get heavily reduced tickets from TKTS on the day).  However, for this not to miss, we’re taking you to the Old Operating Theatre Museum where you can visit one of the country’s oldest operating theatres and learn about the horrific history of medical ‘cures’.

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Magic moments

For kids of all ages, Davenports Magic is a must.  Located in the Charing Cross Underground Arcade, this old fashioned shop has an Ollivanders feel to it.  Staffed by magicians, this is a great little place to stop and impress the children and they even run magic classes (for all ages!) and so you could tie your visit in with this.

Cocktails at Ruby’s

If you’re a fan of the mixers, head to Ruby’s in Dalston and enjoy the delights of this hidden gem.  Tucked away in a building previously used as a Chinese takeaway, this quaintly half-finished feel bar will intrigue and please in equal measure.

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Jazz hands

If you enjoy jazz, you can’t leave without a visit to Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in Soho.  Many live albums have been recorded here by artists such as Ella Fitzgerald and Chet Baker and with a constant flow of entertainment, food and drink, you will be wondering why you haven’t visited before.