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Milford Sound, Queenstown Overview

Situated towards the southwest of the south island of New Zealand, Milford Sound is a fiord belonging to the Fiordland National Park and is also common between the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage site and Milford Marine reserve. It is one of the top tourist destinations of New Zealand. Despite what the name suggests, it is not a sound but is a fiord. The name was given with respect to its geographical features. Essentially, an ocean inlet bigger than a bay with majestic peaks is what constitutes Milford Sound. It is also known to be one of the wettest spots on the planet. During the period of September to December, the rainfall can reach as high up to 250 mm in a day. The scenic view presented at the fiord is so iconic that it seems like its fresh out of a movie.

Situated at about a distance of 300 km from Queenstown, the Milford Sound is a place of miraculous beauty. The rocky mountains cutting through the landscape, almost as if made by a sculptor himself. Milford Sound is extremely popular since it is the only fiord that can be accessed via road. You can explore the fiord through cruises along the water, going up to the sea, or also engage in activities such as canoeing and tramping. Even the drive up to fiord is one of sheer magnificence, and plenty of tour buses leaving early in the day are available. While you're here, do take a visit to the The Milford Discovery Centre & Underwater Observatory, which allows you to gaze at the underwater life of the fiord, and is situated at a depth of 10 metres.

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Things to Do

Cruise: Milford Sound Cruise is the ultimate thing to do when visiting the fiord. There are various operators that operate in the area with the cheapest Cruise starting at about NZD 45 per person.

Kayaking: Kayaking is another great opportunity for an adventure activity in the region. There are kayaking trips organized in the region and they are approximately NZD 100 per person.

Hiking: There are a few hiking trails around the fiord and beautiful waterfalls that are found along the way. One of the popular hikes is to the glacier-carved valleys and waterfalls.

Trekking: Trekking is a heavier activity here than hiking. Most of the treks go through the dense forest areas in the Tutuko Valley. There are two ways you could undertake these treks, either by hiring a private ranger or by joining the groups. The wildlife explored during these treks offers a once in a life-time experience.

Star-Gazing: Due to its secluded location and minimal population, this place is an amazing spot for star-gazing during the night time. The sky here is lit up by the milky-way, the Southern cross and many shooting stars.

History

The name ‘Milford Sound’ is derived from Milford Haven of Whales. Before that, it was named Piopiotahi by the Maori which translates into the piopio bird. This is indicative of the Maori legend of them in an attempt to win immortality. Legend says that when the Maori failed in their attempts, a mourning piopio flew down here.

How To Reach Milford Sound

  • By car: It takes approximately 5 hours from Queenstown to reach Milford Sound in a car. From Te Anau, it is just a 2.5-hour drive. The drive to Milford Sound is extraordinary with many scenic viewpoints and rest halts.
  • By air: A flight to Milford Sound from Queenstown just takes 40 minutes. This is also a wonderful option if you want to enjoy the aerial views of the surrounding mountains, valleys and lakes. Even a helicopter can be chartered to fly over the fiords to enjoy the majestic views and these helicopters also offer day trips to the fiords.

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