Milford Sound

See stunning waterfalls, forest-clad cliffs, and impressive peaks as New Zealand shows off its natural beauty.

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Milford Sound: Our most recommended tours and activities

Milford Sound Cruise

1. Milford Sound Cruise

Self-drive through the Fiordland National park to cruise the stunningly iconic Milford Sound. This fiord is the most accessible of Fiordland National Park’s 14 fiords and can be reached by road. Allow 5-6 hours (one-way) driving time from Queenstown and around 3-hours (one-way) from Te Anau.  Check-in at Milford Sound Visitor Terminal then climb aboard a purpose-built vessel for a leisurely, informative, and interactive experience. Admire the towering Mitre Peak rising straight out of the sea. Cruise the fiord, riding near waterfalls and listening to the informative commentary about the region.  Your experienced skippers customize the cruise route on the day depending on the weather and wildlife sightings to ensure you see the best of Milford Sound. Keep a lookout for wildlife, including seals, dolphins and penguins. The vessels have spacious decks, comfortable seating, and large viewing windows.  Sit back and take in the magnificent views of Milford Sound. The landscape is especially dramatic when it rains in Fiordland. Enjoy the spectacular landscape from a dry comfortable vantage point on board the vessel. You are more than welcome to bring your own picnic on board, or you can purchase food and non-alcoholic drinks on board the vessel using cash.

Milford Sound Nature Cruise with Optional Lunch

2. Milford Sound Nature Cruise with Optional Lunch

Climb aboard a purpose-built catamaran in Milford Sound Cruise Terminal and set sail across the water to discover the unique wildlife of one of South Island's most picturesque attractions. Enjoy complimentary tea and coffee onboard and pre-purchase a picnic lunch when booking. Journey down the south side of the fjord and out into the Tasman Sea, before returning up the north side of the fjord. Listen to fascinating commentary about the region from your skipper in the open wheelhouse and say hello to the native seals basking on the rocks as you pass them by.  Get within touching distance of impressive rock walls carved by glaciers thousands of years ago. Feel the full force of the powerful 15,000-year-old Stirling Falls. The friendly staff will roam the vessel available to answer your questions on the history, geology, and wildlife of the fiord along the way.

From Queenstown: Milford Sound Full-Day Trip by Plane & Boat

3. From Queenstown: Milford Sound Full-Day Trip by Plane & Boat

Combine a flight and a cruise on Milford Sound on this excursion from Queensland. Take in the area's outstanding natural beauty as you savor the sights from both air and water. Enjoy a pickup and transfer to the air hanger in Queenstown. Listen to informative commentary in English and marvel at the stunning views of lakes, mountains, and waterfalls on the 40-minute flight. Upon landing, transfer to the Milford Sound Boat Terminal. Board in Milford Sound and experience 2 hours onboard an intimate vessel with English commentary by your skipper, and complimentary tea and coffee. Cruise to the mouth of the Tasman Sea, while enjoying views of waterfalls and marine life like fur seals, dolphins, and penguins. Next, board your scenic flight back to Queenstown. Take a different flight path from your outbound flight as you admire the spectacular views of Fiordland National Park. After the 40-minute journey back to Queenstown, enjoy complimentary transfer back to your accommodation.

Milford Sound: 2-Hour Small Boat Scenic Cruise

4. Milford Sound: 2-Hour Small Boat Scenic Cruise

Embrace the grandeur of Milford Sound's towering peaks and tumbling waterfalls on a scenic and boutique 2-hour cruise. Self-drive to Milford Sound Visitor Terminal enjoying the views en route. Sit back and relax as your cruise departs from Milford Sound Wharf and makes its way out past the iconic Mitre Peak. Cruise the length of the 16-kilometer fiord and out past St Annes Point Lighthouse. Go further and get closer to the magic that is Milford Sound as you travel through the fiord and out into the Tasman Sea. Hold your breath as your Skipper navigates closer to the shoreline, getting you right up close to the incredible surroundings. Be sure to bring your camera, as you'll be close to sights like the mighty Stirling Falls and Copper Point. Keep an eye out for seals basking in the sun, pods of dolphins or rare Fiordland Crested Penguins that can be found seasonally within the region.

From Te Anau: Milford Sound Coach and Cruise Day Trip

5. From Te Anau: Milford Sound Coach and Cruise Day Trip

Discover Milford Sound on an 8-hour adventure with round-trip transport from Te Anau and a 2-hour cruise through the fiord. If you are looking to explore both Milford and Doubtful Sounds, it is worth staying one or two nights in Te Anau. There is plenty to do plus you will save yourself the long journeys to and from Queenstown. At Milford Sound, climb aboard the leisurely nature cruise for an informative, interactive, and relaxed experience. A specialist guide will provide live informative commentary and you can admire the fiord’s wildlife, waterfalls, and mountains. Enjoy lunch on board the cruise — you may bring your own lunch or purchase snacks and drinks (cash only) on the vessel. Be prepared to enjoy some rainfall during your visit; the landscape is especially dramatic when it rains in Fiordland. Enjoy the spectacular views from a dry, comfortable vantage point on board the vessel. Following the cruise, immediately board the luxury coach for the return journey to Te Anau, arriving between 4:30 PM and 5:45 PM, depending on the season.

Queenstown: Milford Sound Flight and Cruise

6. Queenstown: Milford Sound Flight and Cruise

Take flight a small luxury plane leaving Queenstown. Admire the awe-inspiring scenery from your very own window seat as you soar over Fiordland National Park, listening to the pilot's commentary. Landing at Milford Sound airport you will be escorted to the Cruise Terminal either by shuttle or 15 minute nature walk to meet your boat. Enjoy 2 hours of spectacular scenery and wildlife on the Gem of the Sound, learn all about the history of the area from the skipper as he skillfully pulls the boat underneath waterfalls and right up to the base of famous Mitre Peak. Your pilots will meet you off the cruise at the Terminal and take you back to the awaiting plane for your return to Queenstown. Your complimentary shuttle will drop you back to your hotel with plenty of time to enjoy the legendary dining scene.

Milford Sound: Boutique Small-Boat Cruise

7. Milford Sound: Boutique Small-Boat Cruise

Your cruise will begin at one of the most scenic points of the journey. You can take in the magnificent view of Mitre Peak (New Zealand's most photographed mountain) and the Sinbad Gully. This place is home to the Kakapo (world's heaviest flightless parrot), which was once thought to be extinct but was rediscovered in 1948. From there you will cruise past seal colonies and feel the spray of the waterfall as you travel directly under the Fairy Falls. Once the cruise reaches the Tasman Sea, you will get to see the hidden entrance to the Milford Sound (which Captain Cook missed twice on his explorations). On your return journey, you will find yourself underneath an even bigger waterfall, the Sterling Falls. If you feel like a world-famous "glacial facial", don't miss the opportunity here to do so. Throughout your tour, nature guides will entertain you with local anecdotes, as well as offer extra information on the passing flora and fauna. They are also there to help you with taking photos and assist with any requirements you may have. Around November you will have the chance to spot the rare Fiordland Crested Penguin.

Cruise & Kayak Milford Sound

8. Cruise & Kayak Milford Sound

Your tour starts off with a cruise along the entire length of the sound and out to the Tasman Sea on a Nature cruise. Each cruise has a different focus and explores a different part of the sound, so pick the one that's best for you! Towards the end of your cruise you will be dropped off at the Milford Sound Underwater Observatory to journey through the history, geology and wildlife of Milford Sound and visit New Zealand's only floating underwater observatory to view rare black coral. Then, your specialist kayak and nature guide will take you over to the kayaking pontoon to enjoy up to 90 minutes of relaxing kayaking in serene Harrison Cove. Gaze through the glacier-fed waters as you kayak in one of the most majestic places in the world. This is an intimate experience with a maximum of 8 kayaks per tour including a specialist kayak and nature guide to point out the fjord features and wildlife. No previous experience is necessary and we even have an automated lift for easy entry and exit from the kayaks.

Milford Sound: Premium Small Group Tour from Queenstown

9. Milford Sound: Premium Small Group Tour from Queenstown

Get away from the overcrowded buses, long lines, and obstructed views, and enjoy pure premium travel as you embark on a fabulous small group tour to discover New Zealand's renowned Milford Sound. Combining premium travel in a Mercedes with an amazing scenic nature cruise, a picnic lunch (optional), and loads of off-the-beaten-track visits to stunning locations, this really is the best way to discover Milford Sound. Travel to Milford in style in a luxury Mercedes minivan fully equipped with Wi-Fi, bottled water, and large viewing windows for taking in the amazing sights. Enjoy plenty of stops along the way. Upon arrival to Milford, take a scenic 2-hour cruise along the fjord, where you can lap up the spectacular sights and go under waterfalls. Allow your local guide to provide you with informative commentary while you absorb the lush surrounding scenery and spectacular views. Along the way, you'll see everything from cascading waterfalls, mirrored lakes, and awe-inspiring mountains to fascinating fur seals and dolphins. There is even a stop at a native beech forest where you can take a leisurely stroll. This premium experience is topped off with a delicious picnic lunch which can be enjoyed on the cruise while soaking up the views, before traveling back to Queenstown.

Milford Sound: Coach and Cruise Day Trip From Queenstown

10. Milford Sound: Coach and Cruise Day Trip From Queenstown

Travel to Milford Sound for an extended nature cruise on a day trip from Queenstown. Experience one of the most beautiful drives in the world in the comfort of a state-of-the-art coach. After meeting at a central location in Queenstown, you'll board the luxury coach and journey along the shores of Lake Wakatipu into rolling countryside through to Te Anau. Take a short break, then continue along the spectacular alpine route of the Milford Road. Enjoy photo stops and short walks along the way. Relax on an extended nature cruise of Milford Sound to the Tasman Sea and admire the fiord’s wildlife, waterfalls and mountains along the way. A specialist nature guide will provide live informative commentary. You can also bring your own lunch or purchase snacks and drinks (cash only) on-board. Following the cruise, board the coach for your return journey to Queenstown that allows for bathroom breaks. Be dropped off back in Queenstown at around 7:45 PM.

Frequently asked questions about Milford Sound

What are other attractions than Milford Sound that are worth visiting in Fiordland?

The other must-see attractions in Fiordland are:

How can I visit Milford Sound?

Possible ways to visit the Milford Sound:

You do not need an additional ticket to enter Milford Sound; it’s included in your standard entrance ticket for the main attraction.

Planning Your Visit

  • Best time to visit?

    Peak Season is around the new year when New Zealand's South Island is at its warmest. It never gets hot per se, but if your priority is avoiding the crowds and high prices then go in fall between March and May. Beware though, Milford Sound is one of the wettest inhabited places in the world, and the rain can be freezing in spring and fall, even on warm days!

  • What to wear?

    Be sure to bring a good rain coat and sturdy, waterproof walking boots, even if you're not going on a hike. Remember that rain is part of the experience! Wrap up warm if you're going on a cruise. If you're not, it's worth packing a few extra layers anyway just in case the temperatures drop suddenly.

  • What to bring?

    We recommend that you pack light, but bring a water bottle, protection against the sun, and most importantly, insect repellant. You should probably take your camera too!

Good to know

  • When should I visit?
    Always open.
  • Is it expensive?
    Ticket prices vary based on the type of activities possible, like kayaking, boating and flying.
  • Will I need a guide?
    A guided tour of the area is a great idea and there are many options and activities available!
  • How to get there
    Milford Sound is 295km from Queenstown and 121km from Te Anau. It is a 5-hour journey from Queenstown and can be challenging to get to at times, so taking a tour is recommended.
  • Additional information

    • Be prepared for rapid changes in weather, insects and sun exposure!

    • Pack light, but make sure you have water and a couple layers of clothing.

Other Sightseeing Options in Milford Sound

Want to discover all there is to do in Milford Sound? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Milford Sound

Overall rating

4.8 / 5

based on 2,907 reviews

Our coach driver, Brian, was superb. Commentary educational and entertaining, he stopped at all the scenic photographic spots, and was kind and caring to us older passengers. He had us in stiches with his puns and made the passengers feel that they are part of a shared experience. As a bus driver, I saw him cope with the challenges of idiots pulling out in front of him and stationary vehicles on corners- whithout missing a beat in his narration- an absolute legend. He is the best employee you will ever have.

Take plenty of warm weather gear as standing outside can be freezing! The free car park is about 25 minutes walk around the waterfront but it is a lovely walk and added to the joy! The commentary on the boat was interesting but more importantly the captain and the check in woman were both friendly and welcoming.

The bus driver was a great commentator, inclusive, thoughtful and friendly. The boat trip took us between the massive glaciated walls with their hanging valleys and waterfalls. The commentary again, was interesting. Beautiful weather on this day.

Absolutely worth it! Brian was such an amazing tour guide and he gave us ample time to appreciate the beauty of Fiordland. Everything ran smoothly and we thankfully made it to our booked dinner after the trip.

Knowledgeable crew and vessel size great for number of passengers