Milford Sound, situated on the west coast of the South Island, is a world-renowned natural wonder with towering peaks, cascading waterfalls and amazing wildlife.
Discover this spectacular region of New Zealand with a Milford Sound tour. Choose from an overnight cruise, day cruise, coach and cruise or scenic flight. In Milford Sound, you'll see breathtaking cliffs and peaks – including the much-photographed and iconic Mitre Peak that rises more than a kilometre straight out of the sea. Waterfalls cascade into the fiord, and luxuriant rain forest clings to sheer rock faces in this unforgettable place.
You can travel to Milford Sound in our custom-built glass-roofed coaches for spectacular views of the mountains, glaciers and rainforest, or for a different Milford Sound tour and perspective, take to the skies with a scenic flight from Queenstown.
For a more leisurely tour, experience a premium cruise with bubbles and canapés included. For an immersive Milford Sound tour, join one of our overnight cruises aboard our traditionally designed scows.
However you choose to experience Milford Sound, let us take you on an adventure you'll never forget. Grab your camera and join us in one of the most beautiful places on earth.
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Milford Sound, also known as Piopiotahi, is situated in the southwest corner of New Zealand's South Island. As the northernmost fiord in Fiordland National Park, Milford sits just north of Te Anau and opens out to the Tasman Sea.
Milford Sound is special for several reasons. Firstly, its incredible beauty sets it apart as a mountainous haven, often regarded as an unofficial wonder of the world. With numerous waterfalls, teeming marine life, and a lush rainforest, Milford Sound captivates all its visitors. Beyond its scenery, the journey there, winding through the picturesque Fiordland National Park, becomes a lifelong memory for travellers. Milford Sound carries cultural significance in Māori heritage, serving as a treasured location for precious greenstone varietals, valued for their delicate qualities.
You get to Milford Sound by travelling along the scenic Milford Road (Highway 94) through the incredible Fiordland National Park. Read our detailed blog on how to get to Milford Sound.
Accommodation options in the heart of Milford Sound are quite limited. The only accommodation available is Milford Sound Lodge, the only public lodge catering to independent travellers. This lodge not only provides chalets but also serves as a campervan park.
It's important to note that Milford Sound, being a National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site, strictly prohibits freedom camping, and Department of Conservation campgrounds are limited. Further outside of the center of Milford Sound, the nearest campground is the ‘Cascade Creek Campsite’ along the Milford Road. This standard campsite is suitable for larger vehicles, and reservations are necessary due to its popularity. Beyond that, the closest hotels are in Te Anau, about 2 – 2.5 hrs from Milford Sound.
Te Anau, located just 118km away, is the nearest town to Milford Sound. Accessible via a scenic 2-hour drive along State Highway 94, also known as The Milford Road, Te Anau serves as an ideal pitstop for essential supplies such as fuel, food, and water before your final leg to Milford Sound. Take advantage of the town's diverse accommodations, restaurants, and cafes, making it a perfect break in your journey.
The best month to visit Milford Sound is all year round! Milford Sound's beauty knows no seasonal bounds. Contrary to specific months, any time from January to December offers a spectacular experience. On sunny days, witness the stunning contrast of blue skies against majestic mountain peaks. Even rain transforms the landscape, creating a breathtaking display of hundreds of waterfalls cascading around the fiord. Whether it's the warmth of the sun or the drama of rainfall, Milford Sound captivates visitors with its timeless scenery throughout the entire year.
Visiting Milford Sound in the rain is not just worth it, it's a unique and magical experience! Unlike typical preferences for sunny weather, Milford Sound truly comes alive in the rain. The rain adds a moody atmosphere, transforms the landscape, and fuels an impressive display of hundreds of waterfalls cascading down the rugged mountains. Being one of the wettest places on earth, the chances of encountering rain are quite high, making it an ideal destination for those seeking a real picturesque location.
If you have a particular date in mind for your Milford Sound adventure, it's crucial to plan. We strongly advise booking your tours, accommodations, and cruises in advance to secure your preferred dates and avoid any potential disappointment. For those with flexible travel dates, there may be some flexibility in booking closer to your desired time. Keep in mind that Milford Sound’s peak season is summer, so the sooner you book, the better.
Milford Sound is actually classified as a fiord, different to a sound. Unlike sounds, which are a result of river valleys becoming submerged by the sea, fiords like Milford Sound are shaped by the gradual erosion of ancient glaciers. Despite this, Milford Sound earned its name from European explorers who found it to be a secure and sheltered harbour, using the term 'safe and sound' in a metaphorical sense.
Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound are both fiords in Fiordland National Park. Milford Sound is immense, with dramatic towering mountains, and plenty of waterfalls tumbling from cliffs. Doubtful Sound on the other hand is three times longer than Milford Sound, with more arms, lush greenery, and native wildlife. Milford Sound is reachable by car the entire way, while Doubtful Sound requires a boat and coach transfer due to its secluded location.
At RealNZ, we have numerous Milford Sound cruises for you to choose from.
If you’ve selected a day cruise, you can choose how you cruise from our fleet of vessels, which all offer slightly different cruising experiences, departure times, and food menus. Explore our fleet.
Nestled in the Fiordland National Park, Milford Sound is a haven for diverse native wildlife. From the lush rainforest canopy to the deep waters of the sound, various habitats provide an ideal environment for a range of species. Keep an eye out for the kea, dolphins, seals, penguins, and numerous seabirds.
Exploring Milford Sound offers a unique opportunity to witness these creatures in their natural habitats. Whether you're walking through the temperate rainforest, driving the mountain road, or embarking on a scenic cruise, the chances of encountering wildlife are high. However, it’s important to note that wildlife is unpredictable by nature, and sightings are not guaranteed.
Both paid and free parking are available in Milford Sound. The main car park in Milford Sound is the closest to the Visitor Terminal and is clearly signposted as you enter the small village centre. It is only a 5 - 10-minute walk along a beautiful path with views of the fiord and costs an hourly rate of $10. The free parking is slightly further away from the Milford Sound Visitor Terminal, about a 25-minute stroll along a scenic forested pathway and is located at Deepwater Basin Road. You should allow 45 minutes to 1 hour to park your vehicle and transfer to the Milford Sound Visitor Terminal, where you should check-in for your cruise 20 minutes prior to departure.