A Photographer's Guide to Milford Sound

Date: 18 November 2019

7 reasons get to Milford Sound early!

1. Catch the Sunrise

Leave Te Anau early so that you can enjoy the drive along the beautiful Milford Road and even take in the sunrise on the way. We saw the sunrise around Monkey Creek, just as the mountains appeared from behind the mist. It was a magic moment we cherished with warm fresh coffee (coffee van conveniently at Monkey Creek). Leaving early also meant there were barely any other vehicles on the road and plenty of space at all the key photo spots.

2. Free Parking

There is limited free parking available in Milford Sound, arriving first means you can take advantage of this. The walk around to the boat terminal is stunning, with the morning light across the still water. I was able to capture some beautiful images of Mitre peak and its reflections on the way to the terminal.

3. Breakfast with a view

The morning cruise includes a full buffet breakfast on board the boat. The hot breakfast was just what we needed to keep us going.

4. Wildlife Galore

We saw the wildlife trifecta (this could have been pure luck), Fiordland Crested Penguins, plenty of Fur Seals and Dolphins swimming with their calf right beside the boat. The penguins came waddling out from the forest and jumped into the sea, possibly looking for breakfast of their own.


5. Morning Light

Although on this day we had a very moody environment, on a clearer day you can capture the beautiful rays coming through the mountain tops.

6. Still Reflections

Arriving early in Milford Sound you are more likely to be greeted with calm waters. Milford Sound creates its own wind when it heats up, so the afternoons tend to be more unsettled on warm Summer days. Calm waters can result in glass like conditions on the water, and amazing reflection photography if you were lucky.


7. Time to Explore

I couldn't believe it when we finished the boat cruise and it was 11am! This gave us lots of time to explore some of the short walks on the way back to Te Anau and take in more of the wildlife too. We saw Kaka, Kea, Tomtit, and the very rare Mohua just on the way home.


We travelled from Te Anau to sail on the first cruise of the day in Milford Sound, the 8.45am Scenic Cruise which is available during October - April.  

Photographer Douglas Thorne taking a photo in the forest

About the author: Douglas Thorne

Douglas Thorne is a professional photographer and travel guide. A proud Te Anau local, Douglas spends a lot of his time in Fiordland National Park capturing it's beautiful landscapes. 

Follow him on Instagram @newzealandphotographs  for incredible nature and wildlife content.  

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