Milford Sound is not a sound.
Carved out by the erosion of ancient glacial ice over millions of years, Milford Sound is actually a Fiord. A sound is formed when a river valley is flooded by the sea. It was mistakingly named Milford Sound by first arriving European settlers. The Maori name for Milford Sound is 'Piopiotahi' after a thrush-like bird, the Piopio.
Almost 1,000,000 people visit Milford Sound every year.
Tourist numbers to Milford Sound peaked in 2019 with 875,000 visiting the secluded location. While pre-covid numbers are recovering, it is expected to be a few years yet before numbers return to full capacity, making it a great time to visit. 2020 was tipped to break the one million mark until Covid-19 put an end to that.
It is the only accessible Fiord by road in New Zealand.
The road to Milford Sound was completed in 1954 when the Homer Tunnel, one of New Zealand's largest infrastructure projects at the time, broke through into the Milford basin. The tunnel is names after William Henry Homer, who in 1889 was one of the first people to explore the area of Milford Sound and recommended the tunnel be built to gain access.
Rain, rain, rain. Amongst the wettest locations in the world.
Averaging 6800mm (267 inches) of rain every year, Milford is among some of the wettest locations including tropical rainforests in some of the most dense, mountainous regions of the world. 182 days of the year, on average, will have rainfall with as heavy as 250mm (9.84 inches) recorded often. In February 2020, over 500mm (19.68 inches) of rain fell in 48 hours, severely damaging infrastructure in Milford Sound and along the Milford Road.
Dolphins, seals, penguins & other wildlife - their home.
About 60 Bottle-nose Dolphins call the Milford Sound area home. Our fingers and toes are crossed for you that you get to experience them alongside your cruise through the sound. Often found towards the exit of Milford where the sound meets the Tasman Sea, their playfulness and pleasure in showing off for tourists is well known.
Other wildlife to frequent the area are Fur Seals, Little Blue Penguins, Fiordland Crested Penguins, Blue Ducks and Albatross towards the exit of the sound. Very rarely but always a thrilling spectacle, whales may enter the sound. Different species of sharks have also made the visit.
The "eighth wonder of the world".
Not technically... but we will claim it anyway. Often referred to as the eighth wonder of the world by locals and New Zealander's, Milford Sound is one of the most stunning locations in the world. It was first donned with this title after British write Rudyard Kipling visited Milford in the 1890s and began writing about it. Known for its magnificent sheer faced mountains, and spectacular waterfalls, Milford Sound has earned this unofficial title.
Home to one of the world's great walks.
Listed as the most famous walking track in New Zealand and frequented by international visitors and locals every day, the Milford Track is a stunning stretch of well groomed and formed track through incredibly dense bush, open valleys and up a steep 1,150m mountain pass. At 53.5km (33.24 miles) long, it is completed over four days although our very own directors & lead guides Toby and Katelyn completed it in under 12 hours one day. Each year, around 14,000 people complete the walk with hut tickets selling out in less than a few days.
Milford Sound has an extremely high crime rate.
If you have read this far and got to this point, you may have double read this one. Yes we did say crime rate and in particular burglary rate, but not in the all bad sense. Milford Sound, specifically the Homer Tunnel area is home to the cheeky mountain parrot called the 'Kea'. They are one of the smartest birds in the world but unfortunately they use their brain power for evil. Many a tourist would have returned back from Milford Sound having had a run in with these beautiful, colourful birds. They are a big fan of car parts such as aerials, rubber lining, door handles and window wipers. They also like iPhones and cameras as one unlucky tourist found out in 2022 when a Kea on the Kepler Track near Te Anau stole a GoPro camera and took it for a scenic flight. They were one of the lucky ones with the Kea dropping it in nearby bush. Keep your wits about you.
Powered by waterfall.
Milford Sound township is powered by the close by Lady Bowen Falls which can be accessed via walking track or boat. It's water is also used for the small town's supply. Powered by the 9km long Bowen River, located up high in the above mountains, the waterfall can increase in size and volume by 4-5 times when heavy rain hits the area. The water plunges 162 metres down into the hydro electric system. When low on water, it does prove to be a problem for Milford though, with rare but frustrating power cuts.
Not a place for tech addicts.
For years Milford Sound had no cellphone or internet coverage at all until late 2021 when limited 3G WiFi was introduced and limited calling reception. A new cell tower erected in Deep Water Basin gives about 500 metres of coverage although strength and speed is low. Put simply, if you are expecting to be able to scroll Facebook while in Milford Sound, think again and in our opinion it is not needed! The area is stunning, with so much to take in, and provides you with a tech-free experience away from the hustle and bustle of normal life. Simply sit back and enjoy it!