Cruise Milford Sound Explore this magical landscape Milford Sound

Must-visit South Island destinations this winter

Date: 16 May 2024

Still believe rain sucks, and winter is the ‘off’ season? Think again. Winter has its fair share of destinations that truly come alive with the season, and when it comes to the pinnacle getaway, Ata Whenua Fiordland takes the cake. Full-throttle waterfalls, drenched green rainforests, and snow-covered mountains bring your perspective to life. Even a day or night spent in the national park gives you the feeling that you’ve found the best in nature, so read below to discover the ultimate locations winter has to offer this year.  

Photographer: Lucien Redon

Piopiotahi Milford Sound 

This fiord, located in northern Fiordland National Park, is frequently referred to as the eighth wonder of the world and for good reason. With the eye-widening Mitre Peak climbing 1683ft from the water, and thundering waterfalls plummeting from neighbouring cliff edges, it’s hard to believe what you’re seeing is real. 

Winter takes Milford Sound on a ‘normal’ day and transforms it into a mesmerising wonderland. As one of the wettest places in New Zealand with June on average soaking in 450mm of rainfall, Milford Sound understands when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade, so when winter gives you buckets of rain, you create waterfalls. Hundreds pour from every crevasse, and cliff edges constantly spill with cascades, making it one of the best destinations in nature for waterworks. 

Photographer: Lucien Redon

How to experience it  

Have your day trip in this eighth wonder by booking a coach and cruise. Let an expert driver take the wheel while you take in an epic wintery Milford Road. Pass by numerous gushing waterfalls, through snow-blanketed mountains, and listen to your driver’s stories of the area as you stop for those quintessential photos. Once you get to the cruise terminal, climb aboard your vessel, and explore the fiord in its entirety. Warm mug in hand, you can embrace the elements outside on the deck beside a waterfall or find a cosy corner inside to watch as the misty skies and snowy peaks roll by. 

Photographer: Troy Tanner

Pātea Doubtful Sound 

Milford Sound isn’t the only destination that truly comes alive in winter. Doubtful Sound, the quieter and lesser-known fiord, is double its size and is filled with inlets and arms to lose yourself in. With a resident pod of bottlenose dolphins and habitats for Fiordland crested penguins and NZ fur seals, Doubtful Sound is the ultimate immersion into real, raw nature.  

So what better place to be in during winter, when the snow drifts in and clouds roll through? The fiord shines in a moody atmosphere, and all who venture feel it too. Something is alluring and reflective about the wintry mood, whether you’re enjoying a silent moment to yourself, or eagerly soaking up the wilderness. Doubtful Sound is a place that is generous when it gives you time to rest, have moments in nature, reset, and take some deep fresh breaths of that cool winter air. 

Photographer: Sarah Blair

How to experience it 

Book onto an overnight cruise in Doubtful Sound, which means you can wake up in the fiord itself, onboard a purpose-built vessel. With a two-night stay, overnight cruises are equipped with everything you might need; an onboard chef cooking meals, a nature guide ensuring you don’t miss a dolphin, seal or penguin, and comfortable cabins to rest at night.  

Photographer: Troy Tanner

So, as winter rolls in and rainclouds gather, welcome it all with open arms, embrace the season's magic, and head to Milford and Doubtful Sound for an unforgettable getaway. Whether you're seeking a destination that lights up your senses with nature’s epic show, or a place to relax and reflect under tranquil moody skies, Fiordland has something for you. It's time to rewrite the narrative on winter travel and experience the best of nature. Book onto your getaway today. 

Photographer: Johnny Hendrikus


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