Seen this name before? Wondering what all the hype is about? Here is a list of the most frequently asked questions being searched in Google in relation to beautiful Milford Sound in New Zealand.
Where is Milford Sound?
Milford Sound is located in the southwest corner of the New Zealand's South Island. It is the northern most fiord in Fiordland National Park. Fiordland is New Zealand's largest National Park, covering 12,607m2.
How do you get to Milford Sound?
There is only one access road that leads to Milford Sound, called the Milford Road. It is one of the most scenic pieces of road in the world, as well as quite challenging and passing through several different mountain ranges. The start of the Milford Road is found in the lakeside township of Te Anau.
Milford Sound is 120km from Te Anau (two-hour drive) and 288km from Queenstown (four-hour drive).
What is in Milford Sound that makes is special?
Milford Sound is very scenic. It is a 17km long narrow fiord of water that leads from the mountains, out to the Tasman Sea. It is lined with very tall, steep mountains of up to 2,500m in height, many with sheer rock faces that drop down to the fiord itself. Milford Sound is abundant with wildlife, including some of the worlds most endangered species. It is common to find the New Zealand Fur Seal, Bottlenose Dolphins, native birds such as the Kea Parrot, Kiwi or Blue Duck and on rare occasion whales also pass through the area. Milford Sound is one of the very few fiords in the world that you can access by road and after 70 years of it being open to the public, it still remains very isolated and untouched.
What is unique about the Milford Sound weather & environment?
Milford Sound and particulary parts of the Milford Road (between The Divide and Cleddau Valley) are some of the wettest areas in the world, recieving up to 12-metres of rain each year and raining on average 270 days of the year.
You might ask - why would you want to visit in the rain?
When it rains, hundreds of waterfalls appear, mainly fed from alpine lakes on the tops of mountains. It is a beautiful and mesmerising sight.
The Milford Road also receives a lot of snow in Winter, making for a stunning white drive. The weather is so demanding that the Milford Road has a 24/7 dedicated special care team that maintains the road, undertakes avalanche control work and does their best to keep the road open in times such as winter.
Who visits Milford Sound?
Almost 900,000 visitors travel the Milford Road and visit the fiord every year. The main visiting countries are New Zealander's, Australia, United Kingdom, United States, Singapore, China, India, Canada, Germany, Japan, Korea and small numbers from the EU as well as others.
Can you drive to Milford Sound?
Yes you can self-drive or travel the Milford Road as part of a guided tour which is the most popular way. Driving from Te Anau to Milford Sound takes two-hours however this is with no stops. There are many stunning photo, nature and rest stops along the Milford Road which are well worth the effort and with these included, drive time from Te Anau to Milford Sound can be up to four hours.
What is in Milford Sound?
There is little infrastructure in Milford Sound apart from a large cruise terminal, a few worker accommodation facilities, a public accommodation lodge (Milford Sound Lodge), a small fuel station, public toilets and a few other amenities (small cafe, information centre etc). The main attraction is a Milford Sound Cruise which can be found right at the end of the road.
What is the difference between Milford Sound & Doubtful Sound?
What is a Milford Sound Cruise?
A Milford Sound Cruise is by far the most popular tour/attraction to do with over 90% of visitors taking part in one. Generally your Milford Sound Cruise will take you out into the fiord, travelling along the left hand side, visiting a few waterfalls and even going under them, then out to the Tasman Sea to visit some seal colonies, before returning down the right hand side and visiting a few more waterfalls, most notably Stirling Falls.
There are several Milford Sound cruise companies such as RealNZ, Southern Discoveries, Cruise Milford, Pure Milford and Mitre Peak Cruises.
Cruises can be self booked and you would drive yourself to Milford Sound, or you can book your entire day through a tour operator that will include a Milford Sound Cruise.
Day Tour operators from Te Anau include Luxe Tours, RealNZ, Southern Discoveries, Cheeky Kiwi Travel, Fiordland Tours, Pure Milford, Trips and Tramps and others.
Is there parking in Milford Sound?
Yes there is public car parking that costs $10 per hour located in Milford Sound. From the carpark, it is a 10-min walk to the cruise terminal with most of it under shelter.
If you are on a paid tour, your driver/guide will take you right to the cruise terminal and it will be less than a one-minute walk to inside. There is no extra cost for this.
How much does a Milford Sound Day Trip cost?
$180 - $270 from Te Anau and $270 - $330 from Queenstown.
What accommodation is there in Milford Sound?
For the public, there is only the Milford Sound Lodge. It is a semi-luxury accommodation facility about two minutes drive back from Milford Sound. Milford Sound Lodge has different room types, some premium with stunning views, right through to campsites. Prices range from $120NZD to $980NZD.
The best accommodation options reside in Te Anau with dozens of hotels, motels, camping grounds and over 200 AirBNB's.
How long should I travel to Milford Sound
You really only need one day in Milford Sound to have a very good experience with a walk, a cruise and all the sights and experiences along the Milford Road. The reason to stay in Milford Sound the night would mainly be if you were considering another tour in Milford such as a Kayak or Helicopter tour, however these are very limited in the area with just a few options. The large majority of visitors will travel in and out in the same day with Te Anau as their base.
What wildlife am I likely to see in Milford Sound?
Almost certain chance: Seals, native birds (Kea Parrot, Blue Duck) and seabirds.
Average chance: Dolphins and the Fiordland Crested Penguin.
Low chance: Whales.
How far ahead should I book a cruise or tour?
We would recommend at least a month out from your travel date. If you are intending on doing the Milford Sound Overnight Cruise with either RealNZ or Fiordland Discovery, then we would recommend booking six months in advance.
Is Milford Sound worth all the hype?
Yes it is. It is one of the most beautiful places in the world and has featured in all sorts of awards, Lonely Planet recommendations, worldwide advertising campaigns and is a place that will take your breath away.