Majestic sea cliffs, cascading waterfalls and abundant marine life make this beautiful sound one of New Zealand’s most prized destinations.
Marvel at snow-capped peaks and cliffs that rise straight out of the water, get close enough to feel the spray of thundering waterfalls and look out for dolphins and sea birds at awe-inspiring Milford Sound. Experience the rugged natural surroundings with a kayak or enjoy the scenery from the comfort of a boat.
Milford Sound is a year-round destination. On clear days, take in pristine views of the symmetrical Mitre Peak reflected in the still water. When it rains, the waterfalls are thunderous and the clouds that hug the cliffs create a mystical atmosphere.
Without doubt, the best way to explore the sound is from the water. Several operators run boat tours, which vary in length from a couple of hours to overnight cruises. For a more intimate experience with nature, join a kayak tour. Catch a glimpse of dolphins, penguins, fur seals and an array of sea birds as you paddle.
During boat and kayak tours, your guide will take you past the sound’s major highlights, including some spectacular waterfalls and the iconic Mitre Peak. This perfectly shaped cone is the tallest of the mountains in Milford Sound and stands at 5,551 feet (1,692 meters).
Be sure to check out the Milford Sound Discovery Centre. The underwater observatory plunges 33 feet (10 meters) into the fiord and you can spy a variety of fish, as well as rare tube anemones and deep-water corals through the glass. On the upper floor, interactive videos and displays investigate the history and ecosystems of Milford Sound. A small café is located near the parking area.
The closest town to Milford Sound is Te Anau, which can be reached in just over 2-hours’ drive down a scenic road. Regular buses also run from Queenstown, although this is a 6-hour journey. Accommodation in Milford Sound ranges from luxury chalets to tent sites. It’s a good idea to book your trip in advance during summer.