Milford Sound, New Zealand: Where to Stop on Your Road Trip

Ever wondered what it’s like to visit the natural wonder of Milford Sound? If you are road tripping around the south island of New Zealand, you simply must see this gem for yourself!

Milford Sound, New Zealand

Milford Sound was easily one of the most incredible places we stopped on our road trip through the South Island of New Zealand. It’s hard to describe the place in words- even photos do not do this mystical wonderland justice. Here’s a little overview of what you can expect if you decide to visit this magnificent natural wonder…

Getting to Milford Sound from Queenstown

The most common way to get to Milford Sound is by driving from Queenstown, which takes around 4 hours and 15 minutes. The drive is long and winding, but once you reach Fiordland national park, you’ll see why it is a worthy endeavour. The whole region is unbelievably scenic. Full of vast, baron fields, striking snow-capped mountains, shimmering lakes and lush native rainforest, there is a new photo opportunity at every corner. And this is BEFORE you reach the best part…

If you don’t have a car, you can do a day tour to Milford Sound from Queenstown. Alternatively, if you want to splash out, you can take a scenic flight to Milford Sound. I can imagine the views of the Fiordland National Park from the air would be unparellel!

Milford Sound, New Zealand
Milford Sound, New Zealand

Mirror Lakes Walk

The Mirror Lakes Walk is an essential stop to make on the way to Milford Sound. Just off Milford Road, this short 10-minute walk takes you to this magical lake. Given the weather is calm, the body of water will flawlessly reflect its mountainous surroundings. Unfortunately, sporadic droplets of rain interrupted the reflection when I visited, but it was stunning all the same.

Milford Sound, New Zealand
Milford Sound, New Zealand
Milford Sound, New Zealand
Milford Sound, New Zealand

What to Expect from the Weather in Milford Sound

Milford Sound is notorious for its gloomy weather. With an average rainfall of 6,813mm per year, it is the wettest spot in New Zealand, and one of the wettest places in the world. With this knowledge, it didn’t come as much of a surprise that closer we neared to Milford Sound, the more we became engulfed in mist. Believe it or not, this moody weather adds to the intrigue and beauty of the place. Do not think a rainy forecast in Milford Sound will ruin your visit. Just make sure you pack a raincoat.

Milford Sound, New Zealand
Milford Sound, New Zealand

The best Milford Sound cruise to choose

Once you reach Milford Sound, the absolute best way to see the fjords in all their glory is by cruise. There are a few different cruise operators at Milford Sound to choose from. I went on the Milford Sound Encounter Nature cruise and would highly recommend it. At 2 hours and 15 minutes, it’s the longest cruise on offer. It’s also one of the smaller boats which means the decks aren’t overcrowded.

Milford Sound, New Zealand
Milford Sound, New Zealand

What to expect from the cruise

Once you begin to cruise through the magnificent fjords, you feel as though you’ve been transported to the set of Jurassic park. Milford Sound is both eerily atmospheric and astonishingly beautiful. Jagged cliffs embellished by cascading waterfalls encapsulate a dark, endless pool of water. Luminous greenery contrast the dramatic rock mounds it has spread over.

Milford Sound, New Zealand
Milford Sound, New Zealand
Milford Sound, New Zealand
Milford Sound, New Zealand
Milford Sound, New Zealand
Milford Sound, New Zealand
Milford Sound, New Zealand
Milford Sound, New Zealand

On our cruise, we went right up to one of the gushing waterfalls and had the opportunity to stand right under it. It was a liberating feeling, the rush of fresh icy water soaking right through our rain jackets. Of course, this meant spending the next hour or so warming beside the little heater inside the boat. 

Milford Sound, New Zealand

Milford Sound, New Zealand
Milford Sound, New Zealand
Milford Sound, New Zealand
Milford Sound, New Zealand

The cruise goes all the way to the opening of the fjord, where you are greeted with the site of the wild Tasman Straight. At this stage, make sure you’re holding on to your seat and any loose cups of coffee- the waves at this point tend to violently rock the boat! On your way back you’re lucky like we were, you’ll be able to spot fur seals playfully rolling around on rocky formations. 

Milford Sound, New Zealand

Milford Sound, New Zealand
Milford Sound, New Zealand
Milford Sound, New Zealand
Milford Sound, New Zealand
Milford Sound, New Zealand
Milford Sound, New Zealand
Milford Sound, New Zealand

Make sure on your cruise through Milford Sound you take a moment to stand on the edge of the boat and take it all in. Wind blowing through my hair and rain trickling down my face, I will never forget that moment of breathing in the unbelievable beauty of this natural phenomenon.

Milford Sound New Zealand is truly a place that needs to be seen to be believed.

READ NEXT: Why You Should Put Central Otago on your New Zealand Bucket List

Milford Sound, New Zealand

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How to visit Milford Sound in New Zealand
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HEY THERE, I'M NICOLA!

I am on a mission to discover the BEST destinations & dishes from around the world. In fact, I’ve visited 54 countries and cooked 196 cuisines in this very pursuit. Whether it’s hopping on a plane or into the kitchen, come join the adventure!

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