When it comes to landscapes, New Zealand has a lot to brag about. And brag we do – it is our job after all.
We’ve championed a great number of spots around the country, be it in our blog or on social media. Or when we’re actually showing you around NZ on a tour.
But now it’s time to show the Milford Sound some love, and this is a place that potentially tops all others in New Zealand. The famous Mitre Peak is likely something you’ve seen before in an NZ brochure, but seeing it in person is incomparable. All you need to enjoy this region is your eyes – and maybe your feet.
But more on that later. Here is our take on the breathtaking Milford Sound.
1. The Landscape
While places like Queenstown and Rotorua are all about the adrenaline-pumping activities, the rush you get in Milford Sound is different. It’s not about speed, or thrill, but about appreciating the magical terrain all around.
So magical in fact, that famed British writer Rudyard Kipling deemed Milford Sound an 8th Wonder of the World. How could you afford to miss such a special spot?
New Zealand is covered in mountains – the South Island in particular, with the Southern Alps running down the centre of the island. Milford Sound has mountains too, but the way they jut straight from the earth all around, and tower 1000 metres above the water is a truly staggering sight.
Numerous waterfalls decorate the walls of the cliffs, and shower down into the fjord. Dense rain-forest blankets the area, and creeps its way up the hill-sides.
It’s no surprise that this mystical region served as the perfect setting for the alien land in the upcoming Alien flick.
Either take it all in from the deck of a charter cruise, or from the skies on a helicopter! Alternatively you can get your paddle on, and hire a kayak for a few hours.
2. The Weather
Many places are only good in the sunshine – indeed, most of them are.
Not Milford Sound though. It’s hard to pick a weather system that suits the area best, as it looks incredible rain or shine. Or fog. Or snow.
On finer days, the sun rays break through the peaks of the mountains, and glisten on the water. If the day is still, the reflection on the surface is immaculate.
On gloomier days, the mist sets in and envelops the mountains tops. Fog shrouds the fjord and transforms it into a mysterious land.
In winter, snow caps the mountain peaks and adds a wonderful white touch to an already perfect picture. Don’t wait for the right day – every day is the right one.
3. Legend Has It…
If you’re convinced this is a place of the gods – you’re not wrong. It’s said in Maori legend that long ago, a demigod (or atua) by the name of Tu-te-raki-whanoa was given the responsibility of carving out the fjords on the west coast of the South Island (or Fiordland). He would chant a powerful karakia (prayer), and use his toki (adze) to hack the rock wall away and produce the winding inlets reaching into the mainland.
He worked his way up, with each fjord becoming better than the last. His last masterpiece, was the Milford Sound. It’s only right that we enjoy it after all that hard work!
4. Milford Track
If you want to say that you experienced everything Milford Sound has to offer, then it’s essential you also walk the Milford Track.
This hike is a member of NZ’s 9 Great Walks, named as such because of their unparalleled beauty. Also because while they’re literally a walk in the park, they’re no easy feat. This track is 53.5 km, and will take 4 day.
You’ll need an “intermediate” level of fitness, so there’s going to be a bit of effort to put in. But trust us, it’s well worth the work.
The Milford Track takes you through dense forest, to mountain valleys formed by glaciers, to cascading waterfalls and to crystal clear rivers. It’s kind of like all the best bits of NZ were concentrated in this one special spot.
At Sandfly Point, a boat ride finishes the walk and treats you to fabulous views of the fjord.
5. Admin Stuff
Milford Sound is a bit of a drive from Queenstown, around 4 hours. Make you sure you allocate a decent amount of time for getting there and back.
Companies like Jucy can take you on a scenic day trip to Milford – departing in the morning and returning you before day’s end.
While long, the drive there is absolutely breathtaking in itself, so fight the urge to sleep on the bus. If you really must sleep, do it before you reach Te Anau. It would be a mistake to miss the stretch between Te Anau and Milford!
Where to Stay
In short: right here.
6. Where We Come In
If you happen to be coming on one of our Epic NZ tours, you have the chance to book in a day trip to Milford Sound. On day 15, when we’re in Queenstown, there are 2 options available: coach/cruise, or fly/cruise.
Check in here to read more about that!