Milford Sound, New Zealand
A visit to the South Island of New Zealand is not complete with out a visit to Milford Sound in Fiordland National Park; New Zealand's best known and most popular fiord. The drive from Te Anau takes about 2 hrs 20 minutes. From Queenstown it takes about 4¼ hrs to drive to Milford, so if doing a self-drive holiday, we always recommend staying in Te Anau for a more leisurely trip. Allow yourself plenty of time for stops and short walks, so you can take in the stunning splendour of the alpine scenery. If staying in Queenstown, then always take one of the many coach tours, or flight-seeing tours.
Cruises depart Milford Wharf at regular intervals. Due to their popularity, we recommend pre-booking. You have a choice between luxury scenic cruises that travel the full length of Milford Sound, New Zealand of about 16 km to the open sea; or you can take one of the smaller, more intimate cruises that get up close and personal with the wildlife. If you are lucky you can see the New Zealand fur seal, bottlenose dolphins and if you are very lucky the rare and endangered Fiordland Crested Penguin.
The scenic cruises normally take about 1hr 40 minutes; and the nature cruises 2 hours to 2½ hours. Food is available on all cruises, however this needs to be ordered at time of booking, as all orders are made up the day before.
Scenic flights from Queenstown, Wanaka and Te Anau are available, that fly the full length of Milford Sound, and allow you to see the magnificence of the sheer cliffs and waterfalls of Milford Sound and Mitre Peak from a different perspective. Alternatively you could try sea kayaking on Milford Sound. These full day trips let you experience the peace and grandeur of Milford at your own pace. For those with more time, you can take an overnight cruise on Milford Sound. All your meals are provided, as well as nature guides, and sea kayaks for exploring.
Well worth a trip is the Underwater Observatory at Milford, where you can see all the strange marine creatures of Milford Sound at close quarters. The sheer cliffs of Milford Sound descend up to 450 metres below the surface. Because of a layer of fresh water lying above a lower level of sea water, the deep water animals appear at much higher levels than would normally be seen. Many of the cruises stop off at the end of their cruise, and drop passengers off at the Underwater Observatory. Afterwards you can take a shuttle boat ashore to Milford wharf. For experienced divers, you can also take a diving trip to explore some of the best diving spots in Milford Sound.