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Here’s How to Plan a Trip to Milford Sound

7 mins. read

Situated on the west coast of the South Island, Milford Sound is unarguably the most stunning natural attraction in New Zealand. Surrounded by a number of towering peaks and beautiful cascading waterfalls, this idyllic spot offers breathtaking views. It is located within 1.2 million hectares of a UNESCO World Heritage-listed national park and is often regarded as Fiordland’s jewel in the crown. Due to the pristine beauty this place possesses, it has also been called the 'eighth wonder of the world' by Rudyard Kipling. In today’s time, planning a tour of this scenic destination has undoubtedly become one of the best things to do in New Zealand.

Fun Facts about Milford Sound

Here are a few facts about Milford Sound that you should know when planning a trip:

  • Piopiotahi is the Māori name for Milford Sound.
  • A few popular scenes of Lord of the Rings were filmed at Milford Sound.
  • The first European ever to visit this place was John Grono.
  • Known as the wettest place in New Zealand, it receives an average annual rainfall of 6,813 mm (182 days of the year).
  • The highest recorded rainfall in Milford Sound on a single day is 250 mm.
  • Approximately 14,000 people visit this place a year by foot via the Milford Track.
  • The fiord has a depth of hundreds of meters and is a combination of darkened freshwater and seawater. These two things are the main reasons behind the inky black appearance of the water.
  • This place is home to a number of waterfalls, and some of them are as high as 1000 meters.
  • Milford Sound is also known for its rich fauna, which includes 60 different species of bottlenose dolphins as well as native fur seals, penguins, and blue ducks (also known as whio). The common bird species found here are takahe, kakapo, mohua (yellowhead), and kea.

How to Reach

There used to be a time when boat rides and treks were the only ways to reach Milford Sound. In today’s time, there are many different ways to get to this famous tourist destination, such as by car or air travel. Other than these, one can also book a coach or cruise tour to reach Milford Sound.

By Coach or Cruise: Booking a coach or cruise tour to Milford Sound is a better idea if you have enough time at hand. This will allow you to enjoy the incredible landscapes along the way. There will be a number of stops as well so you can also admire the scenery and take some Instagram-worthy photos.

By Road: The road that leads to Milford Sound is as beautiful as the place itself. If you choose to drive there, there are several short hikes to enjoy along the way. Other than this, there are several other beautiful stops, such as the Mirror Lakes, the Lake Gunn Nature Walk, and Monkey Creek. However, the road is quite narrow. It gets damaged in the rainy season and can be covered in snow during the winter season. It is always a good idea to check the weather conditions beforehand.

By Air: If you don’t have enough time to choose the road route or take a cruise, this is the fastest way to reach Milford Sound. You can take a flight from Queenstown and be there in a couple of hours.

The Weather

Fiordland is well-known for being one of New Zealand's wettest regions. It receives a high amount of rainfall, with an average of 182 rainy days per year. As a result, the weather remains cold all year round. In the summer season, the average temperature remains around 18 degrees Celsius, and in the summer season, it can get as low as 4 degrees Celsius.

Milford Sound

Things to Do

Now that you know how to get to Milford Sound and how the weather changes throughout the year, the next big question is: what should you do once you arrive? For your convenience, here is a comprehensive list of must-try activities in Milford Sound, New Zealand:

Boat Cruises

The sense of peace and tranquility that you get while gently rocking on the waves is second to none, especially when you get to experience that at a place like this. Taking a boat cruise is an excellent way to admire the beauty of Milford Sound. If you are interested in learning more about the local marine life, you can also visit the underwater observatory at Harrison Cove. This observatory is only accessible by boat, and it takes approximately 10 minutes to cruise there from the Milford wharf.


Going for a kayaking tour in Milford Sound is a great idea to add a pinch of adventure to the trip. This gives you an opportunity to see the spectacular fiords of the region at sea level. Here, you can explore some of the less-explored waterways and lakes. There are only two permanent waterfalls in Milford Sound: Lady Bowen Falls and Stirling Falls. When you go kayaking, you can go to Lady Bowen Falls.

Scuba Diving

Black corals are native to the Fiordland area and can be easily viewed in Milford Sound. Living black coral is actually white in colour and often has a colourful kaleidoscope of other sponges, corals, and snake stars that attach themselves to it. Usually, they are found in colours like bright yellows, greens, and oranges. Once the coral dies, it changes its colour to black. If you want to get up close and personal with black coral trees, you can choose to go scuba diving or snorkelling in this area.


If going for a short hike or trek is your idea of fun, the Milford Track is the right place for you. It starts from the northern end of Lake Te Anau and will take you through some of the most vivid wilderness in the world. This entire trek takes a total of four days. The journey comes to an end with a scenic boat ride from Sand-Fly Point to the Milford Sound wharf. The time between October and April is known as the Great Walks season, and Milford Sound experiences the highest visitor influx during this time. If you are planning your trip during this time, it is best to plan and book well in advance.

With all this information, you can easily plan a trip to Milford Sound without having to worry about missing something. At Veena World, you can find an extensive range of all-inclusive packages and choose a suitable New Zealand tour package as per your specific needs.

March 22, 2023


Veena World
Veena World

We are an Indian travel company founded in 2013 and excel at domestic and international tour packages including guided group tours, specialty tours, customized holidays, corporate MICE travel, inbound travel and destination weddings.

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