No trip to Queenstown is really complete without a visit to Milford Sound. Formed by glaciers during the ice age, Milford Sound is a fjord on New Zealand‘s South Island and one of the country’s most-visited tourist spots.
I visited Milford Sound while I was in Queenstown in April and it’s not difficult to see why people love this place so much – it’s literally unlike anything I’ve ever seen.
Here’s 5 reasons to visit Milford Sound and see it for yourself on your trip to New Zealand:
1. The waterfalls
Milford Sound has 2 permanent waterfalls, Bowen Falls and Stirling Falls, and when it rains (which it often does in this part of New Zealand – bring a mac!) you’ll find dozens of temporary waterfalls cascading down the steep cliff faces into the water below.
Seeing both waterfalls up close is also not as hard as you’d think in such a vast area. There’s a wooden walkway from the main ferry terminal to the foot of Bowen Falls and all cruises that operate on the sound take visitors for a very close look at Stirling Falls. And when I say very close, I mean very close: Stirling Falls is like one big shower falling in the fjord - I got wet!
2. The wildlife
Unfortunately on the day of my cruise I didn’t see dolphins or penguins, although they’re regular visitors to Milford Sound, but I did get to see seals! Cue squealing (yeah that might have been me….) and much use of pointy elbows to get a clear photograph (okay yeah that was me as well…) as our boat cruised past Seal Point, one of the only places in the fjord that the seals can actually climb out of the water and onto the rocks.
3. The scenery
It’s not everyday you find yourself cruising along in a boat on the calmest of waters, where mountains rise vertically towards the clouds and large waterfalls cascade into the dark water below but that’s exactly what you’ll get at Milford Sound. It doesn’t even matter what the weather’s like either because it pretty much looks beautiful come rain or shine.
It was kind of overcast the day we went, but I still managed to get some photographs to remind me of my trip.
4. The drive there and back
Anyone who’s been on a coach trip to Milford Sound or, like me, has driven there themselves will tell you the same thing: the scenery between Queenstown and Milford Sound is amazing. And honestly, they’re not wrong.
Your journey starts with up-close views of Lake Wakatipu and one of Queenstown’s mountain ranges The Remarkables; the road winds alongside the mountains until breaking into rolling countryside where, if you leave early enough, the the tops of the mountains in the distance will still be covered with cloud.
Once you get past Te Anau you’ll find yourself on Milford Road and you’ll be driving through Fiordland National Park – it’s literally unspoiled, you might not see a car for miles and the scenery’s amazing.
As you get closer to Milford Sound you’ll even get to drive through an actual mountain – I’m not kidding, it’s a pretty awesome experience!
Also if you’ve got time on the way back (or on the way there) I’d definitely recommend stopping at Mirror Lake.
5. Because it’s not just about seeing Milford Sound on a cruise
When I went to Queenstown I could literally only afford to see Milford Sound on a cruise (and even that was bought on Groupon!) but, if you do have a bit of extra cash, there are other options: you can go kayaking on the sound and really get up close to those mountains, you can dive or you can take a helicopter ride over Milford Sound for a spectacular birds eye view of the mountains.
Some companies will even fly you back to Queenstown as part of a package trip – no long drive back for you!
Failing that, you can always get those hiking boots on and check out one of the many walking tracks around Milford Sound for some amazing (free) sea views.
Would you like to visit Milford Sound for yourself or, if you already have, what was your favourite thing about it?