8 reasons why Milford Sound is a ‘Must Do’ in New Zealand
Date: 12 August 2019
No matter how many times I visit Milford Sound, I am constantly staggered by its absolute beauty. Whenever I catch that first glimpse of the distant Fiordland mountains on my way to visit Milford Sound, my heart just sings. Milford is the epitome of clean and green - the jewel of Fiordland, here lush rainforests are abundant, with towering glacier-carved peaks, waterfalls everywhere, lakes galore and moody skies, what’s not to love?
It is also home to several of New Zealand’s ‘Great Walks’ The Milford Track and the Routeburn. Many, many other shorter hikes adorn the area as well, showcasing icy rivers, wildlife and unique alpine foliage. An absolute must-do on any trip to New Zealand, here are my favorite reasons why Milford should be on your list.
1. The landscapes are incredibly impressive
From thundering waterfalls to sky high mountains to lush rainforests, Milford has it all. So wild and remote it truly feels like you’ve stepped back in time. Milford Sound itself is the most impressive of all the fiords, with steep mountains lorded over by the iconic Mitre Peak, it’s beauty is impressive.
2. The wildlife is unlike anywhere else on earth
Go on if you can think of anywhere else where cheeky mountain parrots will ride the top of your car like a surfboard, I’d love to hear it. Home to some of New Zealand’s most iconic birdlife, especially the world’s only alpine parrot the kea, Milford Sound’s animal kingdom is particularly impressive. Keep an eye out for seals, penguins and dolphins on a boat tour too.
3. The waterfalls
Milford Sound is home to some of the most impressive waterfalls on earth. On a boat trip you can even get up close and personal with them. Visit on a rainy day to see the steep mountain faces covered in literally hundreds of temporary waterfalls, it's a truly magnificent sight.
4. Take in some of the beautiful hikes
There are so many walks and hikes in and around Milford Sound that are for every level of fitness. You have day walks nearby such as Key Summit, Lake Marian, Lake Gunn and the Gertrude Saddle or the world famous multi-day hikes: the Routeburn Track, Kepler Track and the most popular, Milford Track. In addition to these Great Walks, you can also go a bit further afield to hike the Hollyford or Tuatepere Hump Ridge tracks.
5. It’s even more beautiful in the rain
Milford Sound is a unique and truly magical, even when it rains. Actually, especially when it rains. In fact, Milford is one of the wettest places in earth with an average of 182 rainfall days per year. Once the rain comes, the mountains are covered in hundreds of temporary waterfalls spilling down from the mists. It’s extraordinary.
6. Spend the night on an overnight cruise
Stick around after the many day trippers to Milford have gone home and get to experience the wonder of this place as the sun sets behind the Mitre Peak. From the incredible starts to getting to see parts of the fiord without anyone else around, it’s a pretty amazing experience to do one of the famous overnight cruises.
7. Visit the Underwater Observatory
Milford Sound has a unique water composition where the top 10 metres of surface water is fresh (such is the volume of rainfall) and stained with tannins from the vegetation, creating a reflective surface that stops light penetrating the deep sea water underneath. This means that marine life generally seen at great depths can be found only 30 metres below the surface and you can experience this yourself on a tour of the underwater observatory.
8. You can fly to Milford in less than an hour
While driving into Milford is pretty special, flying in on a fixed wing plane or helicopter from Queenstown is even more incredible. As you soar across the Southern Alps and enter Fiordland, you’ll be wowed by the incredible beauty.
Liz Carlson is the creator behind Young Adventuress, one of the biggest travel blogs in the world. An American based in the mountains of Wanaka and always on adventures around New Zealand, she is passionate about Instagram, strong coffee, and saving the kākāpō.