Milford Mariner off peak rates apply:
1 Apr - 19 May 2018
& 16 -30 Sep 2018.
Milford Mariner off peak rates apply:
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!
Milford Mariner Overnight Cruise
"This is beyond description, absolutely stunning & breathtaking & real journeys add more value to the beauty by making the journey so comfortable. It is a must see & the highlight of our New Zealand tour,we loved every bit of it."
This overnight cruise through the heart of Fiordland provides astonishing views and the ultimate Milford Sound experience.
You’ll start by departing from the Milford Sound wharf in the late afternoon before cruising the full length of 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 dolphin 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 refreshing swim too.
As evening falls, you’ll enjoy a delicious carvery buffet in the dining saloon – a feast prepared freshly by our on-board chef. Then it’s 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 journey to Milford Sound is just as spectacular as the destination itself, whether you travel by road or by air.
Milford Sound is around 5-6 hours (one-way) from Queenstown and around 3 hours from Te Anau by road. We have specially designed luxury coaches that can get you there from both these towns or if you prefer we can get you there on one of our scenic flights. You could also drive yourself to Milford.
The best way to enjoy the Milford Road, one of the world’s finest alpine roads without having to worry about the often tricky driving conditions, is on one of our coaches. Our experienced coach drivers know all the right places to stop and take in the magnificent views of the Milford Road. Along the way, they will provide you with informative commentary about the region, its history and natural surroundings.
Our flights and coaches connect with our overnight cruises.
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.Fodors.com
Milford Mariner Overnight Cruises depart from the Milford Sound Visitor Terminal:
Coach and Milford Mariner Overnight Cruise Excursions depart from Real Journeys Visitor Centres as follows:
If you choose an accommodation pick up in Te Anau and Queenstown please note that these times do vary from those noted above - accommodation pick up times are shown during the booking process and also on your booking confirmation.
The Milford Mariner is a purpose built vessel designed to replicate a traditional trading scow and is perfectly suited to cruising the fiords
*Available mid Sep - 31 Oct & 1 Apr - mid May onlyBook
15 November 2015
We did the overnight cruise in Milford Sound. We took a bus there, and impulsively took a plane ride back. Carl, the bus driver, who grew up in the area, was a wealth of knowledge. Our nature guide on the boat (Blaine?) was also excellent, enthusiastic. Both men were smart, too, which always makes things better. The food was amazing - some of the best we ate in New Zealand. We saw penguins, seals, sea birds, and even a whale! The plane ride back was full of amazing sights.
All in all, one of the highlights of my life.
14 October 2015
Took the whole family of five on the overnight cruise. The drive up from Te Anau was spectacular in itself. After an initial scenic cruise we moored for the night in a bay where there were activities including kayaking and a nature guided ride in the tender boat. Fantastic staff, very helpful and informative, the cabins were far more spacious than I expected on a boat this size and very comfy. Food was great - Bob the chef is a culinary genius. Scenery and wildlife were spectacular.
One of the best experiences of our lives.
20 October 2015
Milford Mariner was fantastic!!!!!
We had a overnight on the Milford Mariner and it was a Experience of a lifetime. The Nature Guide; "Blair" and the other crew members were all very friendly and helpful.
I highly recommend Real Journeys...they are exceptional!!!
26 December 2014
We took the overnight cruise on Milford Sound and it was fantastic.
Of course, Milford Sound itself is beyond description; so breathtaking. The cruise allowed us to be crusing in the sound for the entire evening and the next morning. We even got to take their little tender out on the water for some small scale crusing. We had excellent weather which also helped.
The crew was altogether very helpful and friendly and knowledgeable. The meals were very nicely done and served (but you're not really there for the food!!). The cabin was very comfortable; to was small as you would expect on a ship.
16 December 2014
This is beyond description, absolutely stunning & breathtaking & real journeys add more value to the beauty by making the journey so comfortable. It is a must see & the highlight of our New Zealand tour, we loved every bit of it.
I was a little apprehensive about the journey to & fro from Queenstown as we didnot want to make it a tiring trip. To our surprise the journey was so scenic that we lost sight of time.
The cruise was very comfortable, we had taken a twin sharing cabin. The ship was not overcrowded at all. The dinner & breakfast was a huge spread & the chef went out of his way & cooked a great meal for one & all.
The menacing mountains, the blue sea, water falls along the mountains, the sight of seals & dolphins made it an extremely enjoyable trip. Even now there are times when I close my eyes & try to relive those lovely couple of days of my life. I along with my wife will cherish this trip all our lives.
Visited October 2014
24 October 2014
Unique experience staying overnight on the amazing Milford Sound on the Milford Mariner. The crew were really helpful and keen to make the trip something special. Dinner and breakfast are buffets with nice food. It was a friendly atmosphere and we got to chat to passengers from all over the world.
It did not matter that weather was overcast with some showers as it created hundreds of spectacular waterfalls. We saw penguins, seals and were lucky to experience 2 dolphins who bow rode the boat for 10 minutes or so. Amazing creatures.
We drove to Milford ourselves after staying at Te Anau for the night. We did not find the drive too challenging but could see where landslides had taken place recently. Amazing rugged countryside.
28 September 2014
We took the coach from Te Anau to Milford Sound, and from Milford Sound to Queenstown because we stayed for another night. The 2 driver for both coach were very helpful and accommodating as well. Along the way, they gave us time to explore the landmarks and take photos by stopping and letting us off the bus.
On board the Milford Mariner, the crew were all very friendly and accommodating as well. They try their best to make you feel at home. Activities include kayaking, swimming (if you dare - it was winter time), and exploring on board the tender crafts. Board games are also available on board for those who prefer to stay on the vessel.
The food was very scrumptious; they served buffet dinner and breakfast. Accommodations wise, the room was very cozy. We stayed in a double room with our own bathroom. The bathroom was smaller than the average motel/hotel size but it was clean and it catered to our needs so we were fine with it.
Overall, it was one of the best trips that we have gone to; it was worth every cent.
Visited September 2014
6 October 2014
We did an overnight cruise on the Milford Mariner and loved it
The boat is fairly new and has about 25 cabins with en suite. The cabins are small( to be expected) but great for an overnight cruise. The ship has 4 decks the two bottom ones are the cabins then the restaurant/bar then above that the observation deck, plenty of room.
They have kayaks and 2 runabouts for getting close to nature, we went in a runabout and saw penguins and seals and got up close with the varied vegetation, all very informative and interesting. The evening meal was simple but substantial, buffet style, the bar had plenty of wine and beer to choose from. This is great way to see Milford Sound, the best way to do it. We loved it and the cruise co is great in every way.
13 November 2014
Did the overnight cruise and had a great time!
Service onboard is exceptional and really friendly and family like atmosphere. Crew really made sure you had a great time. Food was awesome! Our Cabin was nice.
We enjoyed having the opportunity to overnight Milford Sound and being able to enjoy the sound in all it's early morning glory!
A must do!! Great price for the cruise, don't even think about it!
27 April 2014
We were picked up from our safe park where we had parked for our overnight trip and taken back to the real journeys office which was a great service, we then boarded a comfortable coach and started our trip to Milford Sound. Our driver Steve was exceptionally knowledgeable about the area and his commentary during our drive was great to listen too, he didnt speak the whole time which was nice as it left us time to soak up the wonderful scenery. There were enough stops to break the trip up without being too many.
On arrival to Milford Sound we were greeted aboard the well appinted Mariner. The trip out to the sounds was fantastic, water sports were offered before dinner. dinner that evening was superb with an amazing array of food which catered for meat eaters as well as vegetarians. Dessert was amazing! Early breakfast as bad weathrt was predicted. Breakfast again was a huge offering of food. Tea, coffee & hot chocolate was available for the duration of the boat trip. Short trip into the Tasman with narrative about what we were seeing along with history of the area.
Overall a fantastic experience, friendly team who looked after our every need. My only suggestion would be that if you are traveling with young kids take food with you for the coach trip and also the return trip.
Reviewed April 2014
7 May 2014
We had an outstanding Milford Sound overnight excursion with coach transportation from Queenstown. Before we even left for the two-day trip, our trip coordinator, Leanne, and the staff in the Real Journeys office were very helpful answering questions and making us feel like valued customers!
Our driver and tour guide, Adrian, was exceptional! His knowledgeable commentary along the drive was just enough to share entertaining, insightful facts without being overbearing. Our whole party thought he was an excellent host! The check-in process for the boat was smooth, and our cabin was fine. I've read some reviews that did not compliment the cabins, but for a boat, the size should be expected!
The crew on the boat were helpful and we enjoyed kayaking, seal watching and the evening entertainment. The scenery is breathtaking, and because we had the advantage of staying for two days, we saw the rushing waterfalls spurred on by the rain, which also dusted the highest peaks with snow for our morning! We had clear skies by the time we docked, so the weather - good or bad - just adds to the beauty. The food was very, very good! My only suggestion is that it should last so much longer than it did! Thanks to all who made this a highlight of our visit!
Visited April 2014
19 March 2014
Milford Sound is spectacular and cruising on the Mariner was a delight. We were fortunate to have glorious weather and millpond conditions. Our cabin was larger than we expected and had a good ensuite shower. Dinner, at 7pm, was delicious and plentiful, as was breakfast, served at 7am. We stayed on deck after dinner until 10 or so, watching seals playing around the boat. In fact, 3 of them slept on the swimming deck overnight! Sand flies could be annoying, but copious amounts of insect spray/roll-on mostly keep them at bay (we were given some by our tender driver and kayak instructors). So long as you keep moving, the flies stay away. A small price to pay for such amazing scenery.
When we booked (some months beforehand) we felt the cruise was expensive, but actually it was worth every penny.
Visited February 2014
9 March 2014
I travelled with another couple & we were unanimous in our praises for the overnight cruise on the Mariner. The overnight stay was well set up, with options to kayak, hop on board a zodiac, or just have a quiet well deserved drink as part of the late afternoon activities. The meals were extensive & good quality with opportunities to catch up with fellow travellers. The morning trip out of the Sound was spectacular, as we saw Seals, whilst Dolphins played at the front of the boat. The scenery was awesome.
The mix of the guests ranged from couples, young & old , to families & everyone appeared to have a great time.Highly recommended.
Visited January 2014
17 January 2014
This overnight cruise was everything you want it to be when you book it. The ship was in great condition and fully outfitted, the staff was friendly, knowledgeable and funny, the food was tasty, and the sights were, well...jaw-droppingly beautiful. We got lucky that it had rained a lot the night before so we were able to see a lot of the waterfalls that are only present during and after rainfall - but the weather cleared while we were on the boat and so we also go to see bright sunny skies as well.
I definitely would recommend this to anyone wanting the Milford Sound experience. And an added bonus was being able to live "off the grid" for a day or so, adding to the tranquil experience.
Visited January 2014.
11 May 2013
A perfect evening, clear and warm. Staff went out of their way to make you feel welcome. Beds were small but comfortable. Food was too good, went to bed feeling very overstuffed.
Morning was a little cold and had some rain but it showed another aspect to the view. All up was very nice.
Visited May 2013
7 May 2013
We got to Milford Sound (Most beautiful drive ever) and boarded the Milford Mariner for an overnight cruise at around 3. We were greeted by friendly staff, and fresh-baked blueberry muffins which were delicious. Our private cabin was very clean and had everything we needed. We dropped our bags and, after a quick, incredibly scenic cruise around the sound, took some sea kayaks out for a spin. They also offered dinghy rides with the on-board wildlife expert.
Then it was in for dinner, I wasn't expecting much in the way of quality food, but it ended up being one of the best meals we had in our time in New Zealand, which is saying something. Huge buffet, fully stocked bar, incredible dessert... We ended up seeing an Albatross, Seals and dolphins playing under a huge waterfall. We were lucky enough to have very little rain, and lucky enough on the second day to have a clear, sunny day (Milford Sound gets 7000mm of rain a year). The sleep was perfectly calm, the boat wasn't rocking at all as we were anchored in a secluded cove. There were 60 people on board, but it never felt crowded.
The crew were friendly, informative and pretty entertaining! I don't think there is a better or more intimate way to see Milford Sound.
Visited April 2013
16 April 2013
What a fantastic couple of days! We were picked up from our hotel in Queenstown by a cheerful driver who certainly kept us entertained and educated us all the way to Milford Sounds. The bus trip was very enjoyable especially with the comfy seats and the 'windowed roof".
Upon boarding the Milford Mariner we loved the whole experience! The scenery was amazing, the cabins were great and cosy and food was fantastic. Well worth it and we would definitely recommend this attraction for all ages.
Visited April 2013
9 April 2013
We did the overnight cruise on the Milford Mariner & would definitely recommend this for people of all ages.
The cabins were comfortable and the food was fabulous and endless. The staff were terrific and very helpful with everything. The chance to kayak was wonderful & again great for all ages.
It was wonderful to watch the dawn in the sound & much better than just an afternoon cruise.
Visited April 2013
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 road (coach or car) or by 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 travel to Doubtful Sound visitors first take a launch trip across Lake Manapouri and coach over Wilmot Pass.
Visitors with enough time choose to experience both fiords as they have different characters.
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.
Note: quad-share: we endeavour to assign compartments as "all female" or "all male" but we cannot guarantee this.
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 board the coach or vessel this landscape is spectacular.
If you have booked a coach and cruise to Milford Sound or Doubtful Sound our coaches pick up from most accommodation in Queenstown and Te Anau. When booking either from our website or directly with our staff, please let us know if you want to be picked up from your accommodation or from our Visitor Centre.
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.
From Queenstown to Te Anau by car or coach takes around 2 hrs 45 mins and from Manapouri around 30 minutes. For more information refer to our Driving Times webpage.
Whilst parking in and around Te Anau is safe, we cannot guarantee this. 'Safer Parking' offers paid secure day-night parking for customers who wish to ensure their valuables are safe. Please visit the Safer Parking website to find out more details for rates, information, etc. Real Journeys coaches do collect customers from Safer Parking - simply select this option when booking your excursion from Te Anau.
Each cruise has the same focus on sharing the wonders of Milford Sound through in-depth commentaries and activities (wildlife viewing and cruising in the tender craft). However, they do differ:
- the Milford Mariner: offers private cabins with ensuite bathrooms and activities include kayaking or cruising in the tendercraft.
- the Milford Wanderer offers twin-share compartments with shared bathroom facilities and activities include a guided walk on part of the Milford Track or exploring the shoreline by tendercraft.
If you are travelling from Queenstown it will take around 5hrs to reach Milford. Te Anau to Milford is around 2hrs 20mins. This timing allows for stops along the way for photos or short walks to places of interest. If driving make sure you fill your vehicle with petrol in Te Anau before travelling to Milford (there are no petrol stations at Milford Sound or en route). For more information refer to our Driving Times webpage.
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 Real Journeys coach to Milford Sound and relax and enjoy the stunning scenery.
There is FREE car parking at Milford Sound. Please allow up to 45 minutes to park your vehicle and transfer to the Milford Sound Visitor Terminal, where you check in for your cruise. Check in is required 20 minutes prior to departure.
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.
We operate round trip combined 'coach & Milford Sound cruise' excursions departing Te Anau & Queenstown. However if you want to depart Queenstown and return to Te Anau (or depart Te Anau and return to Queenstown), then please contact us directly firstname.lastname@example.org as these trips are NOT bookable on the Real Journeys website.
We operate round trip combined 'coach & Doubtful Sound cruise' excursions departing Te Anau & Queenstown. However if you want to depart Queenstown and return to Te Anau (or depart Te Anau and return to Queenstown), then please contact us directly email@example.com as these trips are NOT bookable on the Real Journeys website.
All prices and transactions on the Real Journeys website are in New Zealand dollars (NZD). This is specified on the Terms & Conditions page.
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 board 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
• Real Journeys 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).