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"We were nervous to book a Milford Sound Tour"

Luxe Tours Reviews

Having spent most of our working life in the big city of Wellington, we'd always planned on moving out of the rat race eventually. When Tim retired, we decided we needed a change, and we wanted an adventure and some challenges to keep us physically and mentally active.  So Wendy left work, and we bought a caravan, stout walking boots, and e-bikes and hit the road.  We intended to live the “Gypsy” lifestyle until we had had enough.  Fourteen months later, and we have not yet had enough! We’ve been to some amazing places and had some wonderful stops along the way, but there are so many more places to see. We tend to live by the mottos of “Life’s too Short” and “No Regrets.”

Before our trip with Luxe Tours, neither of us had been to Milford Sound. It had been on our to-do list but we had never found the time to go. When we set out on our caravan adventures, we wanted to travel slowly, taking the time to really get to know the places we visited, rather than trying to cram everything into relatively short breaks. Now that we had the time to explore all the amazing places throughout New Zealand, we could finally get to Milford Sound, but would a tour allow us to experience it the way we wanted to?

To Tour or Not to Tour?

Having driven ourselves to several amazing NZ locations already, driving ourselves to Milford Sound was certainly an option we considered.  We'd get complete freedom to choose when to take our cruise and when and where to stop. We would get to take things as slowly as we wanted, making sure we were taking it all in.

But when looking at it further, we realised that the whole trip would be quite a long day and only one of us would get to admire the scenery while the other one drove.  We had also heard from other travellers that parking in Milford could be difficult and expensive and we’d also need to organise our own boat trip and meal.  So we decided that to get the most out of the journey, we should try a tour.

Our Tour Priorities

We were a bit nervous about this decision because we are not big group tour kind of people. We wanted our Milford Sound trip to be relaxing and stress-free, and we didn't want to feel that we were being rushed between all the great stops and not getting to enjoy it properly. We thought we might not get the peaceful and nature-immersive experience that we wanted.   

Sitting in a cramped bus run by a company that might not be locally owned was definitely not for us. But we remembered that during our past overseas travels, we'd gone on some great trips run by small, local companies who had in-depth local knowledge and were passionate about sharing it with visitors. We decided we needed something similar for our Milford Sound trip, and luckily, we found it in Luxe Tours.

The Luxe Tours Website - Everything We Needed to Know

Luxe Tours NZ Website

When looking at tours online, we found that the Luxe Tours website was helpful and informative. We did note that the company was new on the Milford Sound Tour scene, but we weren't concerned about this; everyone was new once, and we thought that new, young people would be doing their best to build their company through innovating the tour experience, rather than just relying on what had been done in the past. We also read the first Luxe Tours reviews online, and they were all very positive and complimentary of the tour guides. 

We liked that the website had lots of detailed information about the tour and the stops along the way so we had a great idea of what we’d experience. The website specifically mentioned that they make sure guests get plenty of time to enjoy all the stops, and we particularly liked that we could see the vans were modern and air-conditioned, and that Luxe limited the number of passengers so that we wouldn't be crammed in. It also mentioned that the boat had limited the number of passengers to around half capacity, so we wouldn't be crammed in on the boat with crowds of people.

We also loved the way the website talked about the owners' love for the area and commitment to sustainability and the environment. The main deciding factor for us was that Luxe Tours is run by locals. Supporting local businesses is something very important to us, and we endeavor to do so in every place we visit, whether that be by socialising in local pubs, buying meals at local restaurants, or spreading the word about the great locally-owned businesses we've encountered.

Booking and Confirmation

Tim made our tour booking through the Luxe Tours website, and he found the experience easy and straightforward.  He also signed up for the newsletter and received a bonus of a discount code. We liked that as part of the booking process, we could pre-book a meal for on the boat and that we got lots of information about the itinerary and what to expect.

Even at just the booking stage of the tour, we knew we'd made the right decision, and we could tell the owners knew what they were doing. The process was thoughtful and helpful, and we quickly received the confirmation email and tickets. Our confirmation email had our scheduled pick-up time for the tour and lots of information to ensure our tour was comfortable, such as what to bring and what to expect, so we were well taken care of right from the get-go.

The Tour Experience

Pick-Up and the Van

Luxe Tours Milford Sound Tour Van

We were picked up from our caravan park in Te Anau at the time scheduled on our confirmation email.  Our tour guide was Murray, and we both thought he was very friendly and welcoming. He had obviously done his preparation work, as he was calling us by our names straight away, and it was nice to know that he had taken the time to familiarise himself with his passengers. Our initial thoughts regarding the van were that it was quite “flash”.  It had all the bells and whistles that one would expect for a very relaxing and enjoyable tour - plenty of legroom, tray tables and storage pockets, USB charging ports,  comfortable lighting, and a high roof so we felt we had plenty of room and didn't feel crammed in at all. 

Luxe Tours Milford Sound Tour

The van was extremely comfortable, and we were surprised to find that we had a bottle of cool water and some lollies for the journey. It was also clear to see that the company was environmentally conscious, as all our waste was collected by Murray to take back to Te Anau to dispose of - truly a commitment to ensure that the Fiordland National Park area is kept in a pristine state.  The bottles were also made of plant-based materials, and they were ours to keep. Wendy is still using hers as a reusable water bottle at this stage.

Friendly and Knowledgeable Guide

Murray Patterson, Luxe Tours Guide to Milford Sound

We found Murray to be a very competent driver and a great tour guide. The Milford Road was long and winding, but Murray drove at a comfortable pace so it didn't feel like we were being rocked about at all. The space and airflow in the van and the lovely stops along Milford Road also made for a lovely drive. We certainly felt very safe and comfortable at every stage of the journey.

Murray was always very friendly and professional, and he was clearly passionate about the location.  He gave some great background history on the area, and his knowledge and stories of the local fishing spots along the way were awesome.  It was lovely to hear that he often returned to the area when he had his days off work, showing how much he loved the area and sharing it with others. 

Learn Murray's favourite part of the Milford Road and hear why it shouldn't be missed 👇
Best parts of the Milford Road, Luxe Tours NZ

Our Tour Highlights

Having our tour in a smaller van meant that we were able to go to places where a larger coach wouldn't be able to visit, and this was a definite bonus for us. All of the many stop-off points were incredibly beautiful.  

Mirror Lakes on Milford Road to Milford Sound, Luxe Tours NZ

The Mirror Lakes were just spectacular, and seeing them was most definitely a wow moment for us both. The Marian Falls walk was also a great opportunity to stretch our legs and get out into the native forest. It was a reasonably short walk, but it was great to feel disconnected from the road and away from large groups of people with just our small group in the rainforest.  The track to the falls was well laid out, the falls themselves were very picturesque, and we managed to capture some lovely photos.

Marian Falls with Luxe Tours NZ

The Milford Sound Cruise Experience

The Milford Haven Boat

RealNZ Milford Haven Boat with Luxe Tours NZ

We loved that the Milford Haven boat was not too big or crowded, yet had all the facilities we needed. We definitely appreciated that they didn’t overcrowd the boat, as there were other boats with crowds of people all piling in.  

Everyone in our little tour group seemed very happy with the tour so far, and we had formed a rapport with the other tour guests by this stage - something that probably wouldn't happen on a big group tour. It was also so nice for our tour group to have reserved seats on the boat so we could all sit together. 

Our Meal

We certainly recommend ordering a meal for the cruise and ordering it in advance, as it was good value and arrived very soon after we left the dock, meaning that we had plenty of time to go out on the deck to view the amazing scenery afterward. It also meant that we didn't have to queue up and wait for our order.  

Luxe Tours Milford Sound Day Tour Food

Tim had a burger and thought it was excellent. Wendy is a bit of a Blue Cod connoisseur, and boy, the Blue Cod she had on the boat did not disappoint. 

"If I had to rank the Blue Cod meal, It'd definitely be a 10/10. It was the best Blue Cod I've had."

- Wendy

Cruise Highlights

There were stunning views of the mountains and waterfalls throughout the cruise, and we enjoyed seeing basking seals on the rocks. We were very fortunate with the calm, sunny weather, as it meant we were able to sail out a little way into the Tasman Sea. It was a cool experience sailing out of the fiord and seeing the giant, expansive sea opening up before us before we turned back to port.

Final Thoughts

We had a fantastic time on our Luxe Milford Sound Tour. We had lovely weather, but we learned that the waterfalls are even more spectacular after the rain. So, because we had such a great time, we are already talking about doing the tour at a different time of year, as we feel that every season would give us a completely different experience. We're also keen on trying the overnight trip to Doubtful Sound sometime in the future which we will book through Luxe Tours. 

We would definitely recommend Luxe Tours to others, and we have already. We were also so impressed with the tour that we left some pamphlets at some of the campgrounds we've visited since.

To any potential future Luxe Tour guests, we'd say: just book the tour; you won't have any regrets!

See the Milford Sound Tour Tim & Wendy experienced 👇

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