Milford Sound, often described as the eighth wonder of the world, it is set in the Fiordland National Park on the west coast of the South Island and provides the most dramatic scenery in New Zealand.
I am always asked by guests – How to visit Milford Sound? What’s the best way to visit this remote paradise? To be honest it depends on you, how much time do you have and how much money you want to spend.
With a limited budget, your best option is to drive to Milford Sound to take in the 1.5 – 2.5 hour scenic or nature cruise. Though keep in mind that it is a five hour journey from Queenstown and a two hour drive from Te Anau and that’s only one way. So, you are looking at a 12 hour day trip from Queenstown though your drive includes some spectacular scenery on route including the Eglington Valley, Mirror Lakes, Homer Tunnel and the Chasm.
If you’re uncomfortable driving on New Zealand roads especially for long distances, then I would suggest taking a coach trip which would include return coach transfers, stops along the way and Milford Sound cruise. Coach trips depart daily and again are approximately 12 hours duration. Now, there is a further upgrade option available to coach trips and depending on favourable weather conditions, you have the option to include a 30 minute scenic flight back from Milford Sound to Queenstown. This flight option not only avoids the five hour coach journey back along the same road but you’ll take in the spectacular scenery from above, viewing rugged peaks, glaciers, alpine lakes, lush rainforests and waterfalls. The scenic flight can be enjoyed by both fixed wing plane or by helicopter.
The drive / fly option above is also available utilising a private vehicle with English speaking Driver (or by request a foreign speaking driver). This is a great option for groups or families travelling together as it is price comparable to the coach option for 6 or more passengers.
But remember there is always the chance that weather is not favourable and your return Milford to Queenstown flight is cancelled so be prepared for the long day.
Short on time? then experience Milford by air. Choose from an one hour plane flight or 90 minute helicopter flight from Queenstown, take in the amazing scenery through to Milford and the length of the fiord before returning to Queenstown. The plane does not land in Milford, however the helicopter flight lands briefly in Milford and includes an alpine landing on its return to Queenstown.
The extended four hour trips include return plane or helicopter transfers from Queenstown with a Milford Sound Cruise.
Day trips are very popular given there is limited accommodation in Milford Sound, however during our summer month’s overnight cruise options are available. This is the ultimate way to experience Milford Sound – when all the day visitors have left for the day. The Overnight boat cruises the length of the fiord before offering optional water activities that include kayaking or an up close fiord cruise by tender craft. A three course buffet dinner and breakfast are included and cabins are either twin/double/single with private or shared bathrooms. Lastly the overnight cruise departs Milford around 4.00pm and returns the following morning at 9.15am, these times allow you to enjoy a leisurely drive in and out of Milford or perhaps coach to Milford and connect with a flight back to Queenstown.
Lots of options, but ultimately the choice is yours.
Experience Milford Sound with one of these packages:
Explore New Zealand – 21 Days, Auckland to Christchurch Self Drive including Milford Sound Overnight Cruise
New Zealand Luxury Highlights – 14 Days, Auckland to Christchurch by rental vehicle and taking in Milford Sound by Helicopter
Inspired Classic Tour – 14 Days, Auckland to Queenstown by independent coach including Milford Sound Day Trip from Queenstown
The Southern Explorer – 15 Days, Nelson to Dunedin Walking Tour including Milford Sound Fly, Walk, Cruise, Fly Trip.