Milford Sound, New Zealand
How To Get There
Milford Sound is not easy to get to located about 4 hours from Queenstown. Your drive will be through the huge mountains and lush rainforest of Fjordland National Park. Despite its name, Milford Sound is actually a fjord created by the erosion of ancient glaciers. It is one of the wettest places in the world and the wettest inhabited place in New Zealand due to its high levels of rainfall. It is, after all, surrounded by rainforest so don’t forget to pack your rain gear. You should actually hope for good rainfall because it sends water cascading down the cliffs surrounding you with waterfalls.
It can be tough to schedule 2 full days when there are so many options of things to see. I really think Milford Sound is not to be missed and something you should consider making time for.
Tours and Attractions
As you guys know I HATE tour groups but the only way to fit Milford Sound into our tight New Zealand Itinerary was to make it as quick and efficient as possible. Since we did not need a rental car in Queenstown it did not make sense to rent one just to drive there and back. There are tons of options and tours from Queenstown so pick your poison. You can even choose to fly there if you’re rolling in dough.
We chose to take the Milford Mariner Overnight Cruise which began in downtown Queenstown where we caught a coach. I say coach because it really was better than a bus. There was even windows on the ceiling making it easy to see the incredible sites along the way. It was a very comfortable ride which was a major concern of mine.
The tour made several stops along the way including a cute little coffee shop/cafe and some scenic stops for taking photos. On arrival in Milford Sound we were taken directly to the boat where we were assigned our cabins and loaded up. It all was very quick and efficient and the place where you load onto the boat is your first glimpse of the amazing sites you will be seeing on your tour.
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All tours will be a little bit different but ours included a cruise around the sound. Before sunset we got into a smaller boat to travel closer to the incredible cliffs that will be surrounding you. There are tons of waterfalls, even more if it has rained recently. Some of the waterfalls start so high up that the water evaporates into mist before even hitting the ground below. Before heading back to our large boat to watch the sunset we spotted some seals splashing along the rocky shore.
Before the sun goes down completely be sure to look up at the mountains above you as there are still glaciers near the top. The glacial waters that fill the fjord are just that, glacial. Our boat crew was encouraging people to jump off the back of the boat regardless. They said it was a once in a lifetime experience to swim in glacial waters. They made a good plea so we did it….it was cold but you should definitely do it if you have the chance. How many people can say they have done that!? We stayed up late star gazing on the top deck of the boat.
The next day started super early as we sailed out to a good spot to watch the sunrise. We also got to kayak through the waters on our own and explore for a period of time. The last activity on the way back to the dock was too sail underneath a waterfall which was an awesome experience. It is hard to capture the enormity of the cliffs in photos but the landscape really is one of a kind.
I cannot recommend a trip to Milford Sound highly enough it truly is breathtaking and our tour was very informative, comfortable and well done.