Skip to contentSkip to navigation

Milford Sound

Fabled Fiordland Must-See

Difficulty: short foreshore walkway - that's it
Bring: bug spray, $$, patience, excitement
Milford Sound
NZGps: 44° 40' 13.5228" S 167° 55' 19.2072" E
Average: 4.8 (4 votes)

Milford Sound is home to the South Island's most iconic image -Mitre Peak towering over the Sound. Every NZ traveler is told that a cruise on either Milford or Doubtful Sound is a Fiordland Natl Park MUST. Fewer have been told that the drive to the Sound is probably a greater visual highlight than a cruise on either Sound. Milford is all tourist hustle-bustle, whereas Doubtful is quieter and more expensive.

What you shouldn't do is take the Doubtful cruise and skip the drive on the Milford Road! The 120km drive from Te Anau to Milford Sound is a marvel...a visual cornucopia of delight...a smorgasbord of oooh and ahhhs and neck-craning magnificence!! Undoubtedly it’s one of the FINEST DRIVES in the WORLD! After a so-so start along hard-to-see Lake Te Anau, the mountains begin to rise up as the Eglinton Valley narrows. You’ll think the first 85km to The Divide are pretty WOW...but then, once you drop to the Hollyford River...the next 32km are adjective defying. Sheersided mountains pierce the clouds, craggy snow peaks reign all around while multi-thousand-foot waterfalls decorate every visible rock face. Once through the Homer Tunnel the visuals never cease until you pull into the carpark with a front 'n' center view of mile-high Mitre Peak crowning Milford Sound!

Once at Milford, of course you’ll take a boat ride—it is worth it simply to escape Milford’s ever-present plague of sandflies. Surprisingly though, the best view of Milford is from the foreshore walkway, not the cruise boats. Most all the boats do the same route, all pulling close-in to 150m Stirling Falls for a misty drenching, all pulling close to the Fur Seal rock.

Other than the cruise boats (or a kayak trip), there’s little to do at the Sound. The quick Foreshore walk is a must for photographers, especially to slow the shutter for 160m Bowen Falls. The Lodge is worth a look simply for its historic photos.

Camping on the Milford Rd: There are numerous cheap-as DOC sites along the road through Eglinton Valley—each basic with no water or showers. The best of the bunch is Cascade Creek where there’s plenty of space, firerings, good mountain views and lots of wildflowers. The Lake Gunn lakeside campsite may sound good, but this site is too small and too many people try to pack in…often arriving late at night and causing undue commotion. Skip Lake Gunn, you’ll be better off at Cascade Creek!

Down the gravel Lower Hollyford Rd 8km is Gunn’s Hollyford campground. It’s a regular family campground, but friendlier…for just $10pp. Hot showers, kitchen, the works…and possibly a big fire burning in the camp area—very social! Gunn’s shop has some groceries as well as books, maps, and souvenirs. This is a fabulous campground!

The Milford Sound Lodge, at the Sound, has some camping but VERY limited and most often sold-out. About $20pp, but you better book ahead.

Excerpt from "NZ Frenzy Guidebook" by Scott CookNZ Frenzy Guidebook

Member Photos

Location Map


We were in doubt, should we

Klaas's picture

We were in doubt, should we go on a busy 2 hr cruise or not? We had a look at the bookme website, found a good price and decided to go for it. We took the first boat, early in the morning, and absolutely loved it. We loved the reflection in the water and there was hardly anybody else there. After 2 hrs we came back and it was super crowded, people were everywhere. There were so many cruise boats going, it was almost front to back. Go early if you can!


Submitted by Klaas on Wed, 2017-12-06 10:33

loved everything about our

walkabout's picture

loved everything about our trip to Milford.the scenery is incredible


Submitted by walkabout on Sun, 2016-01-03 14:14

a faire!cest tres beau. nous

julie0805's picture

a faire!cest tres beau. nous avons pris un bateau a 10h15 pour avoir la 1ere partie de la croisiere avec un peu de nuage,de brume et le soleil qui percait et en 2eme partie que du soleil. super!pensez a la reduction de 15% que l'on trouve dans plusieurs prospectus.

Translation from French:
"Must do! Its so beautiful. We took a boat for the first 10:15 of the cruise with a bit of cloud, mist and the sun pierced and 2nd part of that sun. Super! I think there's a 15% reduction found in several brochures."


Submitted by julie0805 on Tue, 2014-02-04 16:03