Cruising Milford Sound in Fiordland – Our travel guide and picture report

When we look at our Instagram account, we can always look back at so many great shots from our time in New Zealand. Mesmerising…. Like when we went for a swimming adventure with wild Husky dolphins in Kaikoura, or when we hiked up Mt. Rob Roy with majestic views on lake Wanaka and surroundings. Or yeah,

the Milford Sound…

When you reach the outer Western area of New Zealand’s Southern Island, you have reached Fiordland. There’s not a lot of people, sheep, wifi connection, but it’s oh so beautiful. You’ll pass mountain ranges, countless lakes and forest areas. The journey towards the famous Milford Sound is already an adventure, but we still want to take you a little closer to this Sound, with a nice picture report of our Milford Sound Cruise.

Ain’t it a beauty? Mitre peak !

Practical Info on Milford Sound

Getting there

Milford sounds is really at the end of the road 94, beyond that, it’s the Sound and its inner beauty. The easiest option is by rental car / camper car. Be aware, it’s a long journey, and you will need to take gas in Te Anau (last option). Parking at the harbour is free.
There is also the possibility to do a day trip from Te Anau or Queenstown by bus.

journey starts along SH94…

Staying over

For accommodation, the best and cheapest option is camping. The closest campsite is DOC Cascade Creek, close to Lake Gunn. It’s a huge one, they build some toilets and there’s a shelter for cooking.

Beautiful, peaceful campsite

Take a dip in the neighbouring river or hike the short Lake Gunn trail (highly recommended!). From this campsite, it’s still around 45min-1h drive towards Milford Sound. Price is 13 NZD per person.

Taking a refreshing dip in Lake Gunn

Visiting Milford Sound

There are several options for visiting: you can choose to do a (multi day) kayak trip, use small plane or, as most people do, join a cruise.
Cruises can be long, short, with loads of information or just passing by the landscapes. Prices can vary too (a lot).
To not go completely splurging on this visit, we opted for the morning cruise of Jucy (they are the ones of the shiny green/purple camper cars). The cool thing about this cruise: you will be the first one out, there’s breakfast included and it’s still 1h45 minutes.
Good thing about a morning cruise: we still had plenty of time to enjoy the area for the rest of the day, with some lovely hikes ! (we did part of the Routeburn track)
Price: 45 NZD per person. Be sure to get a one of the free AA travel magazines (e.g. at Auckland airport, any i-site), they have a voucher for a 50% discount for a second ticket. We paid 67,50 NZD eventually.

What to expect? 

In this neck of the woods, the weather can have its go. Milford Sound gets about 6,813 mm of rain per year, easily 183 rain days per yer.
Chances for rain in Fiordland are high, so you have to be a little lucky. We were told, at our time of visit (Mid Febr.), the previous 30 days had 29 rainy days… And that’s in summer ! But, we had our portion of luck, and had great weather throughout the entire day.

not a single cloud…

Once you board the catamaran, the skipper tells you some fun facts about the Milford sound, Mitre’s peak and marine wildlife. Like the fact that Captian Cook sailed by this place twice without noticing (heavy fog) and so John Grono, being the first discovering this majestic place, named it after his birthplace in Wales.
The map below highlights the main viewpoints and stop points on the way. You’ll see later, we really came up close (free shower) to some of the beautiful falls.
While some locals like to refer it as “the 8th world wonder”, we won’t take these words in our mouths. But we admit: it’s an extremely beautiful place to visit, and a MUST on any New Zealand travel plan. Let’s take you through the Milford Sound with these amazing shots.

meandering through the beautiful sound…

… while checking 360 views all the time

The catamaran keeps going along the Fjords with a steady pace. After passing by the Fairy Falls and Bridal Veil falls, it’s almost time to hit the open Tasman Sea. After heavy rains (which occurred before), the Bridal Veil Falls is really an impressive sight, resembling a true veil. You can go in the front, back, up or down the deck, or just stay nice and cozy inside the catamaran. But with this kind of weather, everyone will find his sailing feet!

Countless beautiful falls…

… to almost reaching out to some of them

At this point, there’s only the Tasman Sea, which stretches far out. The wind can be tough and it may get more chilly, but take this one for the team and enjoy the solitude!

Last parts of NZ soil, then the open sea…

Once turning back into the Sound, there’s more time to gaze at the views…


There’s the possibility to spot Bottlenose Dolphins, shags, sooty shearwaters, gulls and if you’re really lucky, the Fiordland Crested Pinguin or Little Blue Penguin. We saw some New Zealand fur seals enjoying some play time, getting on and off the rocks at Seal Rock.

seal play time, look carefully on the rocks and in the water

 Finally, we really hit one of the Falls and go for a free Milford Sound shower! Funny moment, especially with this great weather.

the catamaran kisses the cliff, making a free shower…

Eventually, we make it back to the harbour, after a nice small breakfast, lots of great views and pictures, and almost 2 hours in one of the most beautiful areas of New Zealand…

Post Falls, with beautiful surroundings…

TOP TIP. A very nice extra on your return to Te Anau is to stop for the Routeburn Track.

If you plan to do one of the early cruises, you can still do some amazing hikes on the way back. One of them is the Routeburn Track. It’s a multi-day trek, but you can easily choose just to do the first part up until the viewpoint. Like we did !

You can even see some Kakas on the parking lot. They are totally not scared of people, even though they look cute and harmless, they are in for some treats (or just steal them haha).


When you don’t have the time to hike the 3-day Routeburn Track, you can start from The Divide (parking place of road 94) and then hike up towards Key Summit.  Key Summit provides panoramic views over the Humboldt and Darran Mountains. You can do a small circle tour before gradually hiking downhill through silver beech forest back to the parking lot. It’s around 2h-2h30 return.

beautiful view at Key Summit

Are you already getting those New Zealand travel vibes? You can read more about our trip around New Zealand, our 25-day itinerary , tasting the delicious FergBerger and our swimming with wild dolphins in Kaikoura post.

Did you make it to the Milford Sound? Do you have any questions about our journey? Share your stories and comments with us !