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Waterfalls in Milford Sound

Date: 1 November 2018

If there is one place in New Zealand to truly experience the power and wonder of waterfalls, it has to be Milford Sound. A wild and remote corner of New Zealand often lauded as one of the wonders of the world, many make the journey out to Fiordland to experience this pristine and raw beauty. Perhaps the most memorable features of Milford Sound are its waterfalls. 

It only takes a visit on a rainy day, when the steep mountain faces are covered in hundreds of temporary waterfalls that seemingly drop down from the clouds. Perfectly instagrammable, waterfalls are part of the reason that Milford Sound is often touted as being more beautiful in the rain. Ethereal and otherworldly, the waterfalls of Milford Sound tend to enchant all those who visit. With only two permanent waterfalls in residence, thanks to the enormous amount of annual rainfall experienced in the area, you’re likely to see many more waterfalls on any trip to Milford Sound. 

With drastically changing weather conditions and rainfall, it means that no two visits are the same. Sometimes after big rainfalls, the mountain cliff faces are covered with so many waterfalls it’s hard to imagine they’ll disappear again. Other times the main waterfalls are so pumped with snowmelt and rainwater, the waterfalls swell to huge proportions or blow back upwards in strong winds, and after long sunny spells they’ll trickle down to almost nothing. It’s truly remarkable how frequently the Milford Sound waterfalls can change. 

All the trips out into Milford Sound itself will first pass by Lady Bowen Falls, one of the two permanent waterfalls here, and the tallest coming in at a whopping 162 meters. It was named for Lady Diamantina Bowen who was the wife of the fifth Governor of New Zealand. Usually the spray from the falls is visible, especially after a big storm, hidden just out of site from the wharf, and as your boat cruise begins and the thundering sounds get louder, you’ll pass directly by this inspiring feature. Tumbling down out of site from the glaciers above, this waterfall provides the water and power for the town itself. 

Only 11 meters shorter than Lady Bowen Falls, Stirling Falls is Milford’s second largest waterfall and is located further down the fiord itself. You might recognize from the Wolverine films, or on Instagram, where it’s become quite popular to share photos and videos from right next to the base of the falls, as the boats can get quite close thanks to the deep cove and sheer cliff it plummets down from.

 Thanks to the sheer amount of annual rainfall received in Milford Sound, you’re guaranteed to see two if not dozens of beautiful falls in this part of New Zealand. Just remember to bring a raincoat


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