nz-south-fiordland national park-milford sound-cruise
Nz milford sound nature cruise
nz-south-fiordland national park-Milford Sound-Simone
Nz Milford Sound Fiordland
nz-south-fiordland national park-milford sound-cruise
Nz milford sound nature cruise
nz-south-fiordland national park-Milford Sound-Simone
Nz Milford Sound Fiordland
Discover the eighth wonder of the world

Milford Sound

The 16-kilometres-long Milford Sound was described by Rudyard Kipling as the eighth Wonder of the World. Situated within Fiordland National Park, it's a magical place considered one of New Zealand's most spectacular natural attractions. Renowned for monumental mountain peaks, plummeting waterfalls, forested cliffs and mysterious dark waters, Milford Sound is possibly one of the wildest places on South Island.

A helicopter flying over a lake and mountain peaks
Take a scenic flight over the striking Milford Sound
© Glacier Southern Lakes Helicopters
A boat cruising the waters of Milford Sound with towering cliffs in the background
Enjoy a day or overnight boat cruise sailing the beautiful Lake Manapouri
© Matt Crawford


Milford Sound is in a remote part of South Island, in the heart of Fiordland National Park. The interesting thing about it is that even though it was named a sound by the early European settlers it is actually a fiord. A sound is formed when a river valley gets flooded by the sea and this is not the case for Milford Sound. It was carved out of glacial erosion. The inspiration for the name Milford is from the long narrow inlet on the Welsh coast called Milford Haven.

Visit the wettest place in New Zealand

With an average of 200 days of rainfall per year, Milford Sound is one of the wettest places in New Zealand as well as the world and this is all a part of its appeal. All that rainfall creates gushing waterfalls and lush green forests. Staying overnight is highly recommended because when all the buses leave you will feel like you have the entire place to yourself.

Tip: Bear in mind that there are no shops or WIFI. You will find a cafe at Milford Sound Lodge.

Woman in a red beanie and black jacket on a boat cruise in the fiords
Spot wildlife as you cruise the spectacular fiord
A plane flying over lakes and mountainous terrain
The magical Milford Sound is an inlet of the Tasman Sea

Things to do

There are many ways to explore Milford Sound be it by boat, cruise, hiking, kayaking, diving and snorkelling. With such stunning scenery, you can't go wrong. Be sure to visit the underwater observatory at Harrison Cove to view black coral and other interesting sea creatures.

Hike the Milford Track

Known as one of New Zealand's most famous walks, it begins at the northern end of Lake Te Anau and zigzags through pristine wilderness. Along the way, you will pass Sutherland Falls, the tallest waterfall in New Zealand. You can choose to do it over four days or you can do a half-day tour with a guide. The shortened half-day tour means you will take a boat to the end of the track and walk part of it.

Tip: The DOC huts on the Milford Track get booked out early. It is best to plan and book well in advance so as not to be disappointed.

Two people with backpacks pointing to the route while on a hike in the mountain
Take your time and hike the Milford track over four days
A suspension bridge over a river surrounded by green forest
Walk over suspension bridges and through thick rainforest


Taking a cruise is a popular way to experience Milford Sound. You can choose to do it during the day or have a unique overnight adventure. The cruises are usually one hour forty-five minutes to three hours in length and even with a shorter one, you will cruise the length of the fiord. Marvel at the iconic Mitre Peak, be in awe of Lady Bowen Falls or the equally magnificent Stirling Falls.


Paddle through lakes and waterways, get up close to Sutherland Falls, and spot dolphins and seals. See the unforgettable beauty of Milford Sound from sea level. For those that are more adventurous, you can enjoy an overnight kayaking adventure in Doubtful Sound.

A boat sailing between towering cliffs
Cruise, kayak or hike through the fjords
© Tourism New Zealand
A bay with mountains, blue skies and sunlight
Soak up the mystery and drama of dark waters and staggering clliffs
© Graeme Murray

Doubtful Sound

Doubtful Sound was originally named Doubtful Harbour by Captain Cook because he wasn't sure whether the narrow inlet was safe to sail through. Later it was renamed Doubtful Sound by whalers and sealers. The easiest way to reach Doubtful Sound is by boat from Manapouri and then by coach over the Wilmot Pass to Deep Cove.

Get off the beaten path

Be blown away by this off-the-beaten-path experience. It is the deepest fiord at 421 metres and the second largest at 40 kilometres. Shrouded in stillness it is sometimes called the Sound of Silence. A mystical place surrounded by dark waters and deep-sea species such as black coral, the serenity is broken only by the sounds of spectacular waterfalls that cascade down the cliffs or the sounds of bottlenose dolphins, fur seals and penguins.

Tip: Be sure to pack your insect repellent because sandflies are legendary in the fiords.

Still dark water, mist and mountain peaks
Move silently through the enchanted landscape
© Tourism Holdings
Hues of a pink and purple sunset over the fiords
Watch the changing colour of the sky at sunset
Nz marlborough sounds

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How to get there

There is one road leading to the famous fiord and that is Milford Road. Most people travel to Milford Sound from Queenstown or Te Anau. It is an approximately four-hour drive from Queenstown and two hours from Te Anau.

Milford Sound can be reached by air, self-drive or bus. Flights depart from Queenstown, Glenorchy or Te Anau and land at Milford Sound Airport.

Mountains reflecting over a clear lake
Embark on a scenic journey from Te Anau to Milford Sound
© Barton Matthews

Best travel time

The jaw-dropping beauty that is Milford Sound means that it is one of those places that you can visit all year round and given that it is one of the wettest places on the planet, expect rain. If you want to avoid the summer crowds, Spring (September to December) is a good time to visit. Summer (December to March) is the peak period and there are many bigger crowds. There is however a greater chance of clearer views when out hiking.

In Autumn (March to June) the temperature drops but it is still pleasant enough to be outdoors. There will be fewer boats on the water and more of a chance to see dolphins. Winter (June to September) might be cold but it is when you will practically have this moody, wild landscape to yourself.

Driving along Milford Road is simply breathtaking
Driving along Milford Road during spring is breathtaking
© Hans Wijker
Four people on a hike in a lush green forest
Soak up the sun peeking through the lush rainforest during a hike
© TravelEssence

Where to stay?

Make your trip extra special by experiencing a unique stay from our large collection of hand-selected accommodations located in New Zealand and its surrounds. Your travel specialist will match you with accommodation that suits your wants and needs. A journey where your accommodation is an experience in itself.

A lodge on the lake with a huge garden
Stay in a comfortable lodge set on the edge of a lake
Te Anau accommodation with lake views | New Zealand holiday
Enjoy stunning views while you relax on the deck

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