Milford Sound & Vanilla Bean Vinaigrette

If you’ve been following my trip to New Zealand and Australia then you know that our next journey was to take a helicopter tour of Milford Sound – the 8th Wonder of the World.

The drive to Milford Sound was 4 hours one way so in the interest of time getting there by helicopter made the most sense.  Since it gets on average 252 inches (6,412 mm) of rainfall a year it’s considered one of the wettest places in the world.  Weather is unpredictable causing helicopter tours to be cancelled often. Fortunately the day we went the weather was beautiful but windy!

I have to tell you I’m not a fan of helicopters and this was no exception!  I didn’t want to sound like a ninnie so I kept my mouth shut and prayed our tour would go smoothly.  If you’re not familiar with Milford Sound here’s a link to the history plus a video capturing the beauty of Milford Sound – the 8th Wonder of the World.

I can’t even begin to describe the beauty of Milford Sound and being able to view it from overhead was spectacular.

Milford Sound

I have not doctored this photo, the water is actually that color. The lake is glacial-fed, and its turquoise blue color is attributed by the minerals that come from the mountains where the glacier is situated. If my memory serves me right this is Lake Te Anau the second largest lake in New Zealand, covering 344 square kilometers. It is situated near Fiordland National Park, which is famous for Milford Sound and the Milford Track. The lake is surrounded by the huge mountains of the Fiordland National Park.

Milford Sound Glaciers

Depending on the time of year the helicopters will land on the glaciers.  As you can see in the photo above the glaciers have started to crack due to temperature changes.  Talk about feeling like my life was closing in on me quickly………….getting that close to the mountains with strong winds scared me to death.  Thankfully I’m here to share our journey with you.

Milford Sound 1

Since we were unable to land on the glaciers our next stop was this beach that was uninhabited and breathtaking!!!  If only we had more time I would have enjoyed chilling there for a while.

Milford Sound Beach

Our next stop was at the Milford Sound Visitors Center to use the restroom and browse the area.  In the photo above, just around those mountains, was a stunning waterfall.  My picture didn’t do it justice but if you view the video link at the beginning of this post for Milford Sound you’ll be able to see it.

Milford Sound path 1

Milford Sound path

There was a beautiful trail leading over to this location where they had just finished shooting Alien #3 – Covenant.  This is an action scene shot from that location.

Milford Sound 2

I was certain this scene (photo above) was from the movie “Goonies” where the ship comes floating out at the end of the movie – I was wrong.  That movie was shot in California and Oregon.  Isn’t this photo beautiful?

Milford Sound helicopter

Our last stop before ending our tour was a landing on a mountain top to take photos. At that point I couldn’t wait to get back.  It was quite stressful for me getting so close to the mountains.  That said, the trip was incredible with views unimaginable.

If you have the opportunity to travel to New Zealand I recommend visiting Milford Sound.  Besides taking a helicopter tour you can drive there, tour by boat, kayak, plus they even have multi-day hikes depending on the time of year.

I realize I’ve gone several posts now without any recipes so I wanted to share my favorite dish in New Zealand.  It was at a restaurant in Queenstown called Bostwana Butchery.  Having had meat for so many meals and heavier dishes I was finally able to have some fish and veggies.  Vegetables are scarce there, or so it seemed and a huge salad was just what I needed.

I had this wonderful salad with roasted beets, hazelnuts and a heavenly Vanilla Bean Vinaigrette.  It was so tasty I asked for the recipe.  All they shared with me were the ingredients and the waitress said, “they heat it on the stove.”  After rummaging online and viewing multiple recipes, none having the ingredients Bostwana Butchery gave me, I came up with this.  Surprisingly it tasted exactly like what I remembered. My salad had both yellow and red beets, red peppers and fresh mango with the Vanilla Bean Vinaigrette – so good!

The Vanilla Bean Vinaigrette is smooth, and mild, yet full of flavor.  I think you’ll love it and it would even make a nice gift………………Make this vinaigrette and add it to your favorite salad ingredients…………………….

Vanilla Bean Vinaigrette Salad

Vanilla Bean Vinaigrette


  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon zest
  • 1 Tbsp. unseasoned Rice Vinegar
  • 4 Tbsp. Grapeseed Oil
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • pinch of sea salt


  1. Cut vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out seeds with a small knife.
  2. Put bean pod and seeds into a small saucepan with rice vinegar, lemon juice, and zest.
  3. Gently steep mixture until barely simmering.  Let cool.
  4. Strain to remove pod, seeds and zest.
  5. Add honey, then whisk in oil. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
  6. Serve.

Bostwana Butchery

Other adventures on this trip you might enjoy reading about were:

Bungy Jumping (video) in Queenstown

Hiking Ben Lomond Track

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  1. Beautiful! You really had a good time in Down Under, Vicki.
    The dressing sounds great!

  2. Wonderful pictures! I SO envy you — would love to visit there one of these days. But I’ll content myself by making the vanilla bean vinaigrette — interesting recipe. Thanks!

  3. Our tour of Milford Sound was on one of those cool rainy days—I felt like we were in the middle of a scene from South Pacific! Gorgeous photos!

  4. What beautiful pictures!!! Looks like an absolutely fabulous trip! Brave girl to fly in a helicopter ofter glaciers. The vinaigrette looks quite interesting. Have never had a vanilla vinaigrette.

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