An Afternoon on Milford Sound

The day after our gorgeous cruise on Doubtful Sound, we were on the road early to drive to Milford Sound for another cruise.  Similar to Doubtful Sound, Milford Sound is a fiord located in Fiordland National Park on New Zealand’s South Island.  A sound is technically a large inlet from a sea or ocean, so the names of Doubtful Sound and Milford Sound are misnomers.

Milford Sound is more popular than Doubtful Sound, and I’ve typically heard people say that they prefer Milford Sound.  However, Doubtful Sound was my favorite part of my trip to New Zealand, and I wasn’t as blown away by Milford Sound as I thought I would be.  If I hadn’t been absolutely spoiled rotten by our trip to Doubtful Sound, I think I would have been much more impressed by Milford Sound.

The setting of Milford Sound is very dramatic, surrounded by snow-capped mountains.  And since we went to Milford Sound on a sunny day, its beauty was much more resplendent.

Beginning of the cruise

Beginning of the cruise

We did a half-day cruise of Milford Sound, and by the time we arrived at the departure point, there were kids screaming and running around while adults ran after them looking harried.  After feeling like we were in a remote part of the world, it was a bit of a shock to be in a crowd again.

It was worth it though, because Milford Sound is beautiful.  Sparkling waterfalls…

Waterfalls on Milford Sound

Waterfalls on Milford Sound

Milford Sound Waterfalls

Milford Sound Waterfalls

Deep blue water…

Beautiful blue of Milford Sound

Beautiful blue of Milford Sound

Snow-capped mountains…

Mountains surrounding Milford Sound

Mountains surrounding entrance to Milford Sound

The cruise went through Milford Sound, out near the Tasman Sea.  From there, we could see the entrance of the sound, which is so well hidden that the sound wasn’t discovered until the 19th century.

The one down side of the nice sunny weather was that wildlife was scarce.  In fact, other than a few birds, the only wildlife we saw was a lone sea lion napping on a rock.

Sea lion

Sea lion

The cruise included a couple of other fun features.  On the way back to the boat dock, the boat pulled up right underneath a waterfall, soaking the deck and everyone on it.  Although I can see how this would be enjoyable on a hot summer day, it was less entertaining on a winter day, so I hid inside the cabin to avoid getting wet.

Waterfall soaking

Waterfall soaking

Milford Sound is well known as New Zealand’s most popular tourist destination, and it is beautiful.  It’s well worth the trip, and even on a cold winter day, I enjoyed the cruise immensely.


We took a Milford Sound Scenic Cruise with Real Journeys, which lasted just under 2 hours. The cost was 70 USD per person, leaving from Milford.  There are also options to leave from Te Anau (144 USD per person) and Queenstown.  The journey from Te Anau involves stops along the Milford Road, which has great hikes and scenic overlooks.  We had a rental car, so we drove to Milford, doing some of the stops on the Milford Road ourselves.


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