The Top 5 Ways to Experience Milford Sound / Piopiotahi


With striking mountains carved by the erosion of glaciers thousands of years ago, Milford Sound / Piopiotahi is a place you have to see to believe. The outstanding natural landscape that lies here is unlike any other. Milford Sound is one of the 14 fiords in Fiordland National Park, in the deep southwest of New Zealand’s South Island. It’s the most accessible of the fiords, making it the perfect place to visit for a taste of this mighty region.

Experience the scenery from above in a plane, or opt for a lunchtime cruise along the deep, dark waters. A combination of guided coach tours and scenic boat cruises is a fantastic way to experience Milford Sound, or stick to the tracks and walk the Milford Track. RealNZ experiences are the best ways to see Milford Sound, with options to suit everyone. Whichever way you choose to experience this breathtaking fiord, you’ll be left with lifelong memories to revisit from time to time, smiling at the sheer thought of this wonderful setting.

1. By Boat

A Milford Sound Cruise is one of the best ways to see the sights of this incredible place in Fiordland National Park. This natural wonder is particularly dramatic from the bow of a boat. Cruises begin at Freshwater Basin where you board your vessel and set out to explore the fiord. Cruise aboard one of RealNZ’s boats with viewing decks, cafes, bars and indoor lounges. The lack of Wi-Fi in Milford Sound is the perfect encouragement to settle in, maybe grab a craft beer and be fully present. Onboard nature guides help you spot wildlife along the way including dolphins, New Zealand fur seals, penguins and birdlife. Soak up all the scenery and interesting facts and brave the thundering waterfalls as the skipper edges the boat right under its heavy stream. It’s a day filled with awe and wonder. If you’re looking for one of the best ways to see Milford Sound, a day cruise won’t disappoint.

2. Overnight Cruise in Milford Sound

For those with some time to spare, consider staying overnight when others go home. RealNZ offers an overnight cruise experience aboard the Milford Mariner, with purpose-built sleeping quarters, a cosy saloon with viewing windows and a great bar, plus kayaks and a small boat (tender) in tow. Cruise through the fiord, not missing any points of interest along the way including reaching the Tasman Sea, and dock in a calm bay for the evening.

If the weather permits, the crew will get the kayaks in the water for a guided kayak around the edges of the cliff faces. Exploring Milford Sound by kayak is a one-in-a-lifetime experience, and puts the sheer scale of the mountains surrounding you into perspective. For those who choose not to kayak, a guided small boat tour takes you to the same spots and offers a great view of the Milford Mariner, docked in the most beautiful setting possible. Enjoy a feast for dinner prepared by the onboard chef, and catch the sunset before retiring to your private ensuite cabin (or bunk-style rooms). The peace and quiet and extra time spent in Milford Sound make this one of the best ways to experience Milford Sound.

3. Scenic Flight

One of the best ways to see Milford Sound is by air, soaring above valleys, alpine lakes and jagged mountain tops. The sights to be seen from above are utterly breathtaking. See undisturbed places that no one has ventured to on the journey from Queenstown to Milford Sound. Fly into the fiord on a fixed-wing plane with a specially trained pilot, landing at the Milford airport before taking the courtesy shuttle to the harbour. Here, board a cruise to see Milford Sound from a different angle. You can fly both in and out of Milford Sound, or get the best of both worlds by booking the RealNZ coach to experience the magnificent Milford road (a journey in itself), and then fly back to Queenstown. This is the ultimate way to experience Milford Sound.

4. By Foot

Breathe in the fresh air along the Milford Track, easily one of the best walks in the world. Most people take four nights to walk this Great Walk, staying in huts dotted throughout the track each night. Beginning at the head of Lake Te Anau, wind through valleys, dense forest, and a mountain pass. See the tallest waterfall in New Zealand, Sutherland Falls, and listen out for native bird life. Walking the Milford Track is one of the best ways to see Milford Sound and the surrounding area, with incredible scenery at every turn, only to end at Sandfly Point in the fiord. RealNZ offers track transport to the start of the track at Lake Te Anau, and into Milford Sound from Sandfly Point at the end of the track. Book ahead and travel in comfort aboard these boat transfers.

5. Coach, Cruise, Coach

If you’re looking for a one-stop shop for experiencing Milford Sound, a Milford Sound Day Trip will tick all the boxes. This experience includes a coach transfer from Queenstown or Te Anau on a glass-roof coach with informative commentary and stops at all the best locations along the Milford Road. Upon arriving at Milford Sound, board a RealNZ cruise and explore the spectacular fiord. Coach back home with photos and memories to last a lifetime. Leave the car behind and let the experts take the reigns, allowing you to enjoy the full Milford Sound experience without a care in the world!

This article was created in paid partnership with RealNZ.


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