The sky scraping peaks, hanging valleys and rainforest-clad slopes of Fiordland’s Milford Sound make it one of New Zealand’s ‘must see’ destinations for visitors. But what’s the best way to truly experience this natural wonderland? With over 30 years’ experience in showing visitors the best New Zealand has to offer on our small group tours, we know a fair few things about Milford Sound, including the best ways to experience this special place. The combination of coach, cruise and flight is most definitely the best way to go – and below, we’ll explain why.
Described by Rudyard Kipling as the ‘eighth wonder of the world’, Milford Sound is a majestic wilderness that was carved by glaciers during the ice age. Its dramatic landscape is a reminder of the forces of nature involved in shaping such a ruggedly beautiful place. Not surprisingly, Milford Sound is top of the list for many visitors to New Zealand. Breathtaking during both winter and summer, when it rains here – as it often does – dozens of waterfalls are created, cascading down granite rock faces with magnificent effect.
When you make the effort to visit Milford Sound, it’s good to ensure that you’re experiencing this work of nature in the best way possible. The combination of scenic coach along the spectacular Milford Road with a boat cruise in the Sound itself, followed by a scenic flight above the dramatic Fiordland landscape, ensures that you’ll enjoy an unforgettable Milford Sound experience.
The beauty of Milford Road by coach
The Milford Road is home to some truly special landscapes. Lakes, rivers, golden tussock, snowy peaks and emerald-green valley’s call for numerous photo stops, and the stunning Mirror Lakes perfectly reflect the Earl Mountains. Appreciate the glacier-carved majesty of the Eglinton Valley; once entirely filled with ice. Further down the road at the beginning of the descent into Milford Sound you’ll come to the 1.2 kilometre Homer Tunnel – made from solid granite, this tunnel took nearly 20 years to finish. The only way to truly enjoy the magic of this road is by coach. You’ll be able to kick back and relax as you enjoy the panorama unfolding outside your window. Numerous stops where you can take photos and stretch your legs ensure that you’ll be able to make the most of every sight.
Experience Milford Sound up-close with a boat cruise
There’s nothing better than feeling the spray of the 160m-high Bowen Waterfall as it tumbles down a cliff, or watching cheeky dolphins leap and dive in the bow wake. Special experiences like this are only made possible with a Boat Cruise through the waters of the Sound itself. Admire the iconic Mitre Peak soaring out of the landscape and see if you can spot the rare Fiordland Crested Penguin. This deepwater wonderland is home to an array of marine life – getting out on the inky blue waters of Milford Sound is one of the best ways to enjoy the panorama up-close.
Soar over jagged peaks and mirror lakes
Following the excitement of a boat cruise, a scenic flight adds a whole other dimension to your Milford Sound experience. Soaring over the sounds, valleys and mountains of Fiordland adds a bird’s eye perspective and a deeper understanding of this ancient landscape. Instead of returning to Milford Sound, it’s a good idea to return to Queenstown via scenic flight. This way, you’ll not only save a long return drive but you’ll also be able to witness the beauty of the Southern Alps and turquoise-blue Lake Wakatipu from above.
Many of our MoaTrek small group tours include a visit to Milford Sound, and guests soak up the Milford Road by coach before taking a boat cruise on the sound itself with an onboard nature guide. To top off this awesome day, they return to Queenstown via an unforgettable scenic flight. Our itineraries vary in length and showcase the very best experiences New Zealand has to offer. Find out more here, or get in touch directly.
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