Milford Sound, New Zealand
One of the world’s most beautiful cruise destinations, Milford Sound is located in the southwest corner of New Zealand’s South Island.
Part of the Fiordland National Park, Milford Sound spans approximately 16 kilometres from the head of the fiord to the open sea. Described by Rudyard Kipling as ‘the eighth wonder of the world’, the unrivalled beauty of Milford Sound attracts thousands of visitors each day. Brimming with snow-capped peaks, dense rainforest, cascading waterfalls, ancient glaciers and native wildlife, it’s little wonder why it has captivated visitors the world over.
Milford Sound is typically a cruise-by destination, and features on the itineraries of many ships traveling around New Zealand’s South Island all year round. Depending on the cruise line, passengers may tender ashore in Milford Sound where they can take tours in smaller boats, enjoy a range of water activities or embark on overland tours.
Milford Sound is located in the southwest corner of New Zealand, part of the 1.2 million hectare Fiordland National Park. The nearest town is Te Anau, located around 120 kilometres from the head of Milford Sound. The nearest international and domestic airport is in Queenstown, located around 280 kilometres away.
Milford Sound is a cruise-by destination, and as such does not have a dedicated port or terminal for cruise ships. However, some ships anchor in Milford Sound where passengers are tendered ashore to enjoy tours on smaller boats departing from the visitor terminal, or embark on overland tours organised by their cruise lines.
How to Get Around
Milford Sound typically features as part of visiting cruise ships’ New Zealand itineraries. Passengers booked on overland tours to Te Anau and Queenstown can be tendered ashore at Milford Sound, where connections to ground transfers are made.
Travel times from Milford Sound
- 1.5 hours to Te Anau
- 3.5 hours to Queenstown
- 3.5 hours to Queenstown Airport
- Currency - the currency in Milford Sound is the New Zealand Dollar. Coins come in 10, 20 and 50-cent denominations, as well as 1 and 2-dollar coins. Notes come in 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100-dollar denominations.
- Time Zone - Milford Sound uses New Zealand Standard Time. (NZST), which is 12 hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC+12). From October to March the area uses New Zealand Daylight Time (NZDT), which is 13 hours ahead (UTC+13).
- Weather - Milford Sound is cool throughout the year, with averages ranging from 15 degrees Celsius in January to 5 degrees Celsius in July. It is the wettest inhabited place in New Zealand, with a mean annual rainfall of 6,813 millimeters and rainfall occurring on 182 days of the year.
- Mitre Peak - rising 1,692 metres, Mitre Peak is Milford Sound’s most iconic attraction. The mountain is named for its distinctive shape, similar to the mitre headwear worn by Christian bishops. Easily spotted from your ship, Mitre Peak is not to be missed.
- Lady Bowen Falls - a result of continuous rainy days, Milford Sound is home to many temporary and permanent waterfalls. The largest is the famous 160-metre Lady Bowen Falls. Named after the wife of Sir George Bowen, one of the country’s earliest governors, this stunning waterfall drops from a hanging valley in the Darren Mountain Range.
- Stirling Falls - created by glaciers situated behind the mountains and dropping 146 metres, Stirling Falls is the second largest permanent waterfall in Milford Sound. Many cruise ships are able to get directly underneath the falling water, making the falls one of the great highlights of the Sound.
- Seal Rock - located in the heart of Milford Sound, Seal Rock is a haven for New Zealand fur seals. With most of the Sound’s cliffs rising vertically from the ocean, this rock is one of the few points where seals can emerge from the water. Inhabiting the rock all year round, Seal Rock is an excellent place to take photographs.
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