Spend the night aboard the iconic Milford Mariner and wake up to dawn in one of the most beautiful places on earth. The cruise style is relaxed, allowing plenty of time to view the fiord’s spectacular waterfalls, rainforest, mountains and wildlife. It’s the ultimate Milford Sound experience!
Enjoy accommodation in private cabins with ensuite bathrooms or quad share bunk-style compartments
3-course buffet dinner and cooked breakfast prepared by our on-board chef
Choose to explore the shoreline by kayak or small boat
Specialist nature guide on board
Wildlife sighting opportunities – seals, penguins and dolphins
We did the overnight cruise in Milford Sounds. The journey there from Queenstown was lovely with a very experienced guide, Karl, who was highly informative and kept us entertained for the journey. The cruise itself was wonderful especially the morning part. Some of our party went kayaking whereas others went out on the tender, both were brilliant. The food was also very tasty and dietary requirements were easily catered for. Overall we would do it again in a second.
From the bus ride with driver Cameron to all the staff on the ship I felt so comfortable and learnt many things about New Zealand - the culture and the environment. It was a wonderful way to spend a night on our honeymoon. The three course dinner was amazing followed in the morning by a great buffet breakfast. Would recommend booking im advance in order not to miss out on this experience.
Amazing trip to Milford Sound. From the moment of booking, the Real Journeys team pay incredible attention to detail, resulting in an effortless trip. Che, our bus driver, was informative and funny. The trip to Milford was beautiful, and the team stops for bio breaks every couple of hours. Once on the boat, the cabins were larger than anticipated (though still small, boat cabins), with comfortable beds and cozy pillows. Bob, the chef, puts out a very good spread, including veal, beef, chicken and vegetarian options. The crew couldn’t have been nicer and more helpful. The scenery of Milford is indescribably beautiful - don’t miss an opportunity to see this incredible place!
I can’t begin to tell you how good this trip is. The Sound is beautiful and truly Awesome (as the Kiwi kids say!) the staff and guides are relaxed, helpful and work hard to make the trip as good as it can be. The cabins are small but clean and comfortable with hot showers and even hair dryers. The buffet dinner is excellent as is the cooked breakfast. But the Sound is the star of the show. Don’t waste time sleeping!
We took the Milford Mariner Overnight Cruise into Milford Sound and it was the most amazing trip with the most amazing sights that must be experienced in person. The boat was the perfect way to experience all Milford Sound has to offer. After cruising around we anchored and then took kayaks and tender boats further into the coves where we saw penguins and seals playing along the banks. Amazing! We spent the night on our boat and had the most amazing dinner and interesting people to meet too. Breakfast was also very good and we set sail and went all the way to the Tasman Sea and back before docking. This was our #1 attraction in all of NZ and we highly recommend not missing this.
This was the highlight of my trip to New Zealand. The crew is fabulous. The boat is quite nice and the cabins are cute/tidy - much better than I expected. The food by Pablo and his assistants is absolutely delicious! Our whole group raved about the food. There is plenty of room on the viewing decks for photo-taking and enjoying the views. You will love it!
We spent a night on the real journeys Mariner in Milford sound. What a great trip ,the ship, the crew , the sights we had it all . The trip is really well done did the short cruise out to the waterfall then jumped onto the tenders to get a very informed commentary of the local animals ,plants and Milford life . The food onboard was very good , well done to Bob the chef and the crew everything served was spot on . After the meal we joined in on the PowerPoint presentation by Forest the environmental guy. What a great show ,Forest was super knowledgeable about all things furry and the history of the sound . Thanks to the Captain and all Crew money well spent for us and great job !!
Milford Sound is a stunning location, best experienced in a leisurely and receptive manner, not rushed and hurried. So why try to fit it in after a long drive when you'll only have a hour or so to appreciate a natural marvel? The tidy and neat Milford Mariner is the perfect answer. After a guided exploration and a top buffet dinner, sleep overnight actually on the Sound before more magnificent photo opportunities the next morning. Wonderful, helpful staff, too.
This overnight cruise through the heart of Fiordland provides astonishing views and the ultimate Milford Sound adventure.
You’ll start by departing from the Milford Sound wharf in the late afternoon before cruising through Milford Sound accompanied by our specialist nature guide. They’ll explain the history and geology of the area and be on hand to answer your questions.
This cruise style is relaxed, allowing plenty of time to view the fiord’s spectacular waterfalls, rainforest, mountains and wildlife – you’re bound to encounter seals and, if you’re lucky, maybe dolphins and penguins too.
The Milford Mariner then anchors in a sheltered cove. From here you can join the guide and explore in the vessel’s tender craft (small boat) or kayaks. If you prefer, you can simply relax on deck and soak in the beauty of this amazing place. If you’re feeling brave there’s always the option of a refreshing swim too. All activities are weather dependent.
As evening falls, you’ll enjoy a delicious carvery buffet in the dining saloon – a feast prepared freshly by our on-site chef. Then it’s time to relax in the company of your fellow traveller, indulge in some star-gazing and story-sharing or simply retire to your private cabin.
The next day you’ll be able to dig into a hearty breakfast before heading back out to the Tasman Sea (weather permitting) and exploring more of the fiord.
Things you should know
The trip duration is for 1 night
Accommodation onboard the Milford Mariner (sleeps 64):
Private cabins with ensuites bathrooms (twin, double or single occupancy)
Limited quad share bunk-style compartments with ensuites. Please contact us to book.
Three course buffet dinner including appetisers, soups, salads, hot dishes and a selection of desserts and cheeses (vegetarian options available)
A full buffet breakfast with cooked and continental options is served
There is a licensed bar on board. Due to the remote location, we can only accept cash
Kayaking and tender craft (small boat) activities included
Duvets, sheets and towels provided
Suitable for all ages, with the exception of infants in quad share
Complimentary tea and coffee is available
The trip leaves from the Milford Sound Terminal at 4.30pm and returns by 9.15am the following day.
You are required to check-in at the RealNZ counter 30min prior to departure.
The journey to Milford Sound is just as spectacular as the destination itself. Milford Sound is around 5-6 hours (one-way) from Queenstown and around 3 hours from Te Anau by road.
Free parking is available for Overnight Cruise passengers in the RealNZ Bus Parking.
By far the most satisfying way to experience Milford (or Doubtful) Sound is to do an overnight cruise; it gives you more time in the fjord when it's at its best—first thing in the morning and early evening.
Only one carry-on bag is recommended for passenger convenience and for safety reasons. Don't forget the following:
Non-slip walking shoes/boots
Waterproof jacket *
Warm sweater/fleece jacket
Change of clothes *
Insect repellent *
Cash for bar and snacks
Personal medication including for asthma and allergies
* Essential items if you are doing any water activities.
About the Milford Mariner
The Milford Mariner is a purpose built vessel designed to replicate a traditional trading scow and is perfectly suited to cruising the fiords
Private cabins with ensuites (twin or double bed configuration)
Limited quad-share bunk-style compartments with ensuites (Call to book)
Spacious viewing decks and observation lounge
Dining saloon and licensed bar
Carries 30 kayaks and 2 tender craft onboard
In case you haven't found the information you were looking for, we've put together some of the most common questions our customers ask about our trips. If you need more specific answers, please contact us directly.
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How long does it take to travel to Milford Sound?
If you are travelling from Queenstown it will take around 5 hours to reach Milford. Te Anau to Milford is around 2 hours 30 minutes. This timing allows for toilet and photo stops along the way. If driving, make sure you fill your vehicle with petrol in Te Anau before travelling to Milford as there are no petrol stations at Milford Sound or en route. For more details, refer to our Driving Times webpage.
At Milford where do you park and go to check in for Overnight Cruises?
Overnight Cruise guests who are driving directly to Milford Sound may park free of charge in the coach parks outside the Visitor Terminal, after 3.30pm. Parking attendants are present at Milford Sound and will direct you - please inform them you are travelling on an Overnight Cruise with RealNZ. Check in is at the Milford Sound Visitor Terminal, 30 minutes prior to cruise departure.
What is the Milford Sound Levy?
The Milford Sound Levy is paid to the Milford Sound Tourism authority and helps to maintain, preserve and develop the Fiord. For more information, see the Milford Sound Tourism website.
Are linen and towels provided on the Milford and Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruises?
Yes, bedding and towels are provided to all guests.
Overnight Cruises and Quadshare - We are a group of three people and would like to book a shared quad-share room. Will this mean we would be sharing with another person?
Yes, you could potentially be sharing with another guest. Alternatively you could choose to pay for the entire quad cabin, or two double cabins, to ensure privacy. If you wish to pay for an entire quad cabin, please contact us directly.
Note: quad-share cabins are mixed gender.
What weather can I expect in Fiordland?
Fiordland’s weather is what gives the region its unique character. Rainfall is what makes Fiordland a land of lakes, rivers, streams, waterfalls and fiords. Visitors should always be prepared to enjoy some rainfall during their stay. It is recommended to bring sensible clothing for cool and wet weather to fully appreciate your stay.
The temperatures you can expect in the different seasons are as follows:
Spring (September-November) 10-19 Celsius / 50- 66 Fahrenheit
Is it worth going to Milford/Doubtful Sounds on a wet day?
Many say you have not seen Fiordland unless you have seen it in the rain. When it rains in Fiordland the landscape is dramatic - rock faces stream with waterfalls, mist hangs around the tops of the mountains and rivers and streams rage. From a dry comfortable vantage point on the bus or boat, this landscape is spectacular for sightseeing.
How likely are we to see wildlife in Fiordland?
While we cannot guarantee you will see wildlife, sightings of fur seals are reasonably common in both Doubtful and Milford Sounds. A pod of bottlenose dolphins resides in Doubtful Sound so you have a good chance of seeing these fascinating mammals, and in Milford Sound dolphins are occasional visitors. In both sounds the rare Fiordland crested penguin can at times be observed.
How much luggage can I take on my overnight cruise?
We recommend each passenger brings no more than a carry-on sized bag due to space restrictions in the cabins. For a list of what to bring please see the 'more info' section or your booking confirmation.
Is there luggage storage at Milford Sound?
There is limited luggage storage available at the Milford Sound Visitor Terminal.
What is the difference between a double room and a twin room?
A double room is a private room for two people, with one bed to share. A twin room is a private room for two people, with two single beds.
What happens if the weather changes and we can’t fly out from Milford?
Your travel agent or the outlet where you purchased your Milford Sound trip will refund the flight component of your ticket. You will return to Queenstown by coach.
What is the difference between Milford and Doubtful Sounds?
Our places. Our experiences. Milford and Doubtful Sounds, NZ.
Milford Sound at the mountainous north end of Fiordland National Park is the classic fiord - a deep water inlet between steep sided high mountains. Milford Sound is a middle-sized fiord at around 13 kms in length and it is famous for its dramatic scenery, especially Mitre Peak. This fiord is the most accessible of Fiordland National Park’s 14 fiords and it can be reached by bus, car or flight connections from Queenstown.
Doubtful Sound is located in the heart of Fiordland National Park where the mountains are still very impressive but not as high as Milford Sound. Doubtful Sound is three times longer and has a sea surface area roughly ten times larger than Milford Sound. Its three arms are Hall, Crooked and First Arm. It is famous for its wilderness scenery and wildlife sightings. To get to Doubtful Sound visitors first take a launch trip across Lake Manapouri and drive over Wilmot Pass.
Visitors with enough time choose to visit both fiords as they have different characters.
What are the driving conditions to Milford like in the winter?
Driving conditions during winter (May to September) can be difficult. Extreme care is needed as freezing temperatures mean the road can ice over in shaded places. During the winter it is mandatory to carry snow chains in your vehicle as the road can sometimes be covered in snow. These are available for hire from petrol stations in Te Anau and Queenstown.
If you are not confident about driving in winter conditions then take a RealNZ coach to Milford Sound so you can relax and take in the stunning scenery.
What is the difference between a sound and a fiord?
Throughout Fiordland the fiords are officially mapped as sounds. Strictly speaking, they should be called fiords.
A fiord is a glaciated valley - typically narrow and steep-sided - that has been flooded by the sea after the glacier’s retreat. A sound, on the other hand, is a river valley flooded by the sea following a rise in sea levels or depression of the land, or a combination of both.
Online transactions/prices are conducted in what currency?
All prices and transactions on the RealNZ website are in New Zealand dollars (NZD). This is specified on the Terms & Conditions page.
What happens if there is an emergency?
Our staff are trained to deal with incidents and in case of an emergency you should listen to their instructions. We have a portable defibrillator on each of our overnight cruise vessels (Milford Mariner, Milford Wanderer and Fiordland Navigator). In addition to this we also have portable defibrillators at the following locations: • Milford Sound Visitor Terminal • RealNZ Visitor Centre, Manapouri • Cavern House (Te Anau Glowworm Caves) • Colonel’s Homestead Restaurant, Walter Peak • TSS Earnslaw Vintage Steamship • Stewart Island Ferry (Bluff - Oban - Bluff)