Bucketlist Travels logo

Travel bucket list idea:

Milford Sound [Boating, kayaking, helicopter, hiking]

Last updated: 18 March, 2024

This gorgeous 22km long fjord – one of New Zealand’s most accessible – is hallmarked by beautiful upland scenery, crowned by the Mitre Peak. Despite the crowds, it remains an awe-inspiring landscape of snow-capped mountains, dense forests and spectacular waterfalls.

There are several bucket list ways you can get out into the wilderness and appreciate it in all its natural glory.

The most popular way is on a pleasure cruise along the Milford Sound waterway – justifiably ranked as one of New Zealand’s signature experiences. A range of cruises are available, from thrill rides on jetboats to gentle two-hour tours on historic steamboats. You can also take an overnight cruise along the entire fjord to the Tasman Sea.

You could take it all in from the water on a kayak, soar over Mitre Peak on a helicopter or spend 4-days hiking the world-renowned Milford Track around it, through pristine, fern-filled rainforest.

Logistics

Price from: £10
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 4+
When: All year around
Duration: -

Getting there & doing it

Milford Sound is 295kms (about a 4-hour drive from Queenstown). A number of organised tours depart from Queenstown – some involving a (much faster) flight to get there. If time allows, you can make your way down to Te Anau, the ‘gateway to the fjords’, 2.5 hours’ drive from Queenstown. For those who are self-driving, a public car park is located 10 minutes’ walk from the boat harbour. Air Fiordland operates regular flights from Queenstown to Milford Sound.

 

 

 

When to do it

Cruises operate all year round, seven days a week. Departure times vary by operator. The earliest cruises depart around 9am (summer) and 9.45am (winter). The last cruises depart around 3.30pm (summer) and 1.45pm (winter).

The access road gets clogged with cars and coach tours, so go early before the crowds. Australia and NZ school holidays are the peak tourism times; avoid if possible.

Who to go with: organised tours

19

Our selection of the best Viator tours of this attraction or activity

Small Group, Award Winning Full Day Milford Sound Experience

  • Queenstown

Small Group, Award Winning Full Day Milford Sound Experience

Viator

Milford Sound is arguably the most scenic destination in New Zealand and a must-see for any traveller. Whether seen in sunshine or rain, the incredible views are guaranteed to leave you awestruck. This is a small group tour for travellers seeking an all-inclusive, uniquely-kiwi, personalized trip to Milford Sound.  We keep things personal using our fleet of modern Mercedes vans. Enjoy your journey with only 16 people, in a vehicle with premium features such as leather seats, panoramic scenic windows, Wi-Fi and Spotify. Let your Altitude Tours guide entertain you with in-depth knowledge of the area, as we travel from Queenstown through Te Anau and into the Fiordland National Park on the famous Milford Road. Enjoy many scenic photo stops at both famous locations, as well as our guide's favourite off-the-beaten-track spots. Enjoy a 2-hour small uncrowded cruise while taking in the incredible beauty that Milford Sound has to offer! You can also add on a picnic lunch to enjoy onboard.

Price NZ$299

Min age 0

Rating 4.87 / 5 [1406 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

Viator Logo
Website >

Full-Day Milford Sound Extraordinaire Tour from Te Anau

  • Te Anau

Full-Day Milford Sound Extraordinaire Tour from Te Anau

Viator

This full-day Milford Sound extraordinaire tour from Te Anau will have you traveling along the spectacular Milford Road. With fun commentary and plenty of local knowledge provided you will have a chance to see keas, seals, dolphins and the Fiordland crested penguin. Enjoy an amazing morning tea that includes wonderful date scones, tea, coffee, hot chocolate and biscuits, chocolates Experience an amazing 20-minute walk to the Chasm. You will have the chance to do the most spectacular 30-minute walk to Milford Sound. It is the Marian Cascade which is a continuous cascading waterfall draining from a glacier fed lake. Your day will be topped off with a 2-hour cruise on the famous Milford Sound.

Price NZ$249

Min age 0

Rating 4.96 / 5 [870 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

Viator Logo
Website >

Milford Sound Tour by Plane from Queenstown, Including Cruise

  • Queenstown

Milford Sound Tour by Plane from Queenstown, Including Cruise

Viator

We will fly you from Queenstown over the Southern Alps with breathtakingly spectacular and endless panoramic views of lakes, forested river valleys, waterfalls, jagged razor-backed ridge lines and snow covered peaks.

Price NZ$645

Min age 0

Rating 4.92 / 5 [754 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

Viator Logo
Website >

Half-Day Milford Sound Flight and Cruise from Queenstown

  • Queenstown

Half-Day Milford Sound Flight and Cruise from Queenstown

Viator

Milford Sound is an area of extraordinary natural beauty. It offers a majestic fiord, dramatic and awe-inspiring scenery and prolific flora and fauna. This tour with Air Milford allows you to combine the stunning flight to Milford Sound with a beautiful cruise on the fiord. Relax as you enjoy the best of both worlds from above and from the sea.

Price NZ$641

Min age 0

Rating 4.94 / 5 [541 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

Viator Logo
Website >

Jet Boat Journey through Fiordland National Park - Pure Wilderness

  • Te Anau

Jet Boat Journey through Fiordland National Park - Pure Wilderness

Viator

This is a rare opportunity to immerse yourself in Fiordland National Park - far from the crowds found elsewhere. Fiordland Jet is is the only scenic commercial operator on these waterways, which means guests can enjoy an authentic kiwi experience in a small, personalized group tour. As a locally owned and operated business, we are taking tourism back to what it use to be - personal - and invite you to explore our beautiful home as one of the family. No rushing. No lines. Just wide open spaces and jaw dropping scenery. This is not the typical jet boat 'ride' - this is a journey - time to explore and learn about this amazing area and its rich history all while having heaps of FUN!

Price NZ$185

Min age 0

Rating 4.98 / 5 [441 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

Viator Logo
Website >

Destination guides

1

Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

New Zealand’s South Island

  • South Islands, New Zealand

New Zealand’s South Island

Destination guide

A primordial playground with truly spectacular scenery on the grandest scale, outdoor adventure activities galore, colourful and compelling Maori culture and terribly nice Kiwis.

Round-ups

1

Round-ups that include this experience