Milford Sound is one of the many beautiful sounds in New Zealand and is one of the more popular ones. It’s just under 2 hours from Te Anu, which is one of the closest cities to it. Milford Sound is stunning in any weather, it’s a large and beautiful Fjord made by glaciers back in the Ice Age. It features lush green trees, tons of waterfalls, tall mountains and striking cliffs. This was a highlight of our trip to New Zealand.
Getting to Milford Sound from Te Anu
If you are staying in Te Anu there are several stops along the way that break up the drive, which is very pretty. Along the road there is a large tunnel you have to pass through, you often have to wait your turn which can cause a bit of a delay so give yourself plenty of time to get to Milford Sound.
The infamous Kea birds like to hang out at the opening of the tunnel. In an attempt to keep the little tyrants at bay, some locals built a kea playground. It’s got a whole bunch of things to entertain them, and while they seem to like it, tourist vehicles still seem to be their favorite. So mind your windshield wipers!
Mirror Lake is a great place to stop along the way up to Milford Sound. It is called Mirror Lake because the still water makes a perfect reflection when the winds are low. It’s the stillest in the morning, we caught it as the winds started to come in so it wasn’t as mirror-y as it can be.
I will repeat. Get an early head start. We barely made it up to the sound we had to RUN to the dock! It was an intense few moments we thought for sure we were going to miss the boat. Luckily the guides saw us running and let us board. Phew!
I recommend getting the tickets pretty far in advance and trying for the first cruise of the day, it will be less crowded. We chose Mitre Peak Cruises. There are other, more popular ones but this came with a recommendation from our friend who lives there and had been on several said it was the more intimate one and less crowded. She was right, There was hardly anyone on our tour so there was plenty of space to roam about the boat and see everything.
The cruise lasts about 2 hours and goes all the way down the sound to the open ocean. It’s pretty cold if you choose to stay out on the deck (which I did) so bring appropriate clothing.
They take the boat under the waterfall on the cruise. Unless you are in the mood for a second shower, a cold one, I would go inside at this point!
In addition to the beautiful landscapes, there are also birds and wildlife that live the sound, many can be seen from the boat. Colorful birds and lazy sea puppies (my term for seals/sea lions) were throughout the sound.
Waterfalls line the sound as well. It was abnormally clear and sunny the day we went so it led to some neat rainbows! I mentioned before that it’s great in any weather. Our friend that has been many times says there is always something new to see on the tour. If the weather happens to be clear you can see the top of Mt Cook, which I hear is uncommon from the sound. It’s typically draped in clouds and mist.
Get some “toasties” at the little shop near the docks after the Cruise. That’s Kiwi for a toasted sandwich or a grilled cheese. Wasn’t a ton of dining options here, as in there was one.
Afterward, your snack, head back to Te Anu. There is nowhere in the sound to stay.
On the way down from Milford Sound stop and check out The Chasm, it’s a short walk. It’s really something to see. The powerful river and waterfall. You stand on a bridge as it all flows below you. It’s really neat!
As I mentioned there are many tour companies for Milford Sound. We went with Mitre Peak and were very happy with them. If you do not have your own car there are tours that leave from both Te Anu and from Queenstown.
Adult: from $95.00
Child: from $30.00
You can Book here
Timetable – Daily departures
|October – April:
|May – September:
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