Milford Sound

Overview

Introduction

In spite of its remote location on the South Island and its wet climate (roughly 200 in/550 cm of rain a year), Milford Sound is one of New Zealand's premier natural attractions. (In summer, it's visited by 50 or more tour buses a day.) Although it's called a sound, it's really a glacier-carved fjord, with sheer mountain cliffs rising up on both sides. Waterfalls spill down the rocks—there can be hundreds after rains. Postcard-perfect Mitre Peak dominates the view if it's not covered in clouds.

When it comes to getting to and from Milford Sound, there are several options. Day trips by bus can be booked from Te Anau (about seven hours round-trip) or Queenstown (12 hours round-trip). More expensive, but much quicker, are flights in small planes from Queenstown. You can also take the bus in and fly out. (We've done this, and it turned out to be one of the highlights of our last trip.) If driving yourself, plan on at least two days for the trip from Queenstown, which is 185 mi/300 km to the east. Of course, you can also walk to Milford Sound by way of the famous Milford Track, though it will take you two days and three nights to make the full journey.

Fiordland National Park encompasses the southwest corner of the South Island and is New Zealand's largest national park. Popular for hiking and hunting, it should only be explored by experienced hikers because of its rugged nature, isolation and frequent bad weather.

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