Our experience and destination pages should provide you with all the information you need to make a decision or plan your trip.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
Please allow up to 45 mins - 1 hour to park your vehicle and transfer to the Milford Sound Visitor Terminal, where you must check in for your cruise 20 minutes prior to departure. Car parking at Milford Sound is organised by Milford Sound Tourism (MST). The main parking area is approx. a 10 minute walk to the terminal. Parking in Deepwater Basin is approx. a 25 minute walk from the terminal.
Parking fees will apply in the main car parking area operated by Milford Sound Tourism. The cost will be $10 per hour.
RealNZ offer a range of trips across the South Island that have different levels of accessibility.
Please state any mobility requirements at the time of booking, or give our reservations team a call to confirm if an experience is suitable for your needs.
For further information, please visit https://www.makingtrax.co.nz/
There is limited luggage storage available at the Milford Sound Visitor Terminal.
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.
From Queenstown to Manapouri by car or coach takes around 2 hrs 45 mins and from Te Anau around 30 minutes. For more information refer to our Driving Times webpage.
The Manapouri Underground Power Station visit is CLOSED indefinitely due to maintenance by operators Meridian Energy. We are not permitted to access the Power Station for tours during this time. The Doubtful Sound Wilderness Cruise tour will still operate without the visit underground to the Powerstation.