7 Best Things To Do In Milford Sound, New Zealand - Updated 2021

things to do in milford sound nz

Milford Sound, situated on the west coast of South Island, New Zealand, is a stunning fiord which sports beautiful waterfalls, wonderful wildlife and breath-taking scenery. Rudyard Kipling once called it the eighth Wonder of the World, and it’s easy to see why! There are a range of ways to explore and learn about this awesome area, from cruises to hiking tours to museums and observatories - you’ll be spoilt for choice. Keen adventurers and photographers take note: this is not an opportunity to be missed while visiting New Zealand! Here’s our list of the top attractions and tours to make the most out of Milford Sound.

1. Milford Sound Personal Private Tour (from USD 637.0)

If you’re looking for a way to explore the area in a little more privacy, this Milford Sound Personal Private Tour is the ideal choice. The guides will pick you up from your Queenstown hotel, and take you on a four-hour drive through New Zealand’s beautiful nature to the Sounds. There are plenty of photography opportunities on the way, including Te Anau and the Mirror Lakes, and the guides provide a Nature Boat Cruise as an optional extra. You’ll be returned to your hotel at the end of the day. Each tour is tailored to the individual, so you can create your ideal itinerary and take full advantage of the knowledgeable and experienced tour guides!

Milford Sound Personal Private Tour

Address: Milford Sound, NZ


Milford Sound Personal Private Tour and Boat Cruise

Duration: 11 hours

2. Milford Sound Nature Cruise from Queenstown, Te Anau or Milford Sound (from USD 94.0)

If you’re not staying in Milford Sound itself this day cruise is a great option, as the guides provide transport from Queenstown and Te Anau by luxury coach. It takes around 5-6 hours to travel by road from Queenstown, and around three hours from Te Anau, but the trip is made worthwhile by the stunning scenery along the way. The cruise itself travels along the length of the UNESCO-listed fiord, past Mitre Peak and waterfalls en route to the Tasman Sea, with expert live commentary from a nature specialist. You’ll have the opportunity to see some of the area’s native wildlife such as penguins, dolphins and fur seals, and natural beauty only New Zealand could provide. A must-do for adventurers and photographers, the tours will take your breath away!

Milford Sound Nature Cruise from Queenstown or Te Anau

Duration: 2 to 12 hours

10 reviews

3. Milford Sound Discovery Centre & Underwater Observatory (from USD 72.0)

The Milford Discovery Centre is New Zealand’s only floating underwater observatory: a “unique, interact[ive] learning experience.” The observatory gives visitors access to a viewing area into the underwater haven, full of fish species and other wildlife. Due to a phenomenon called ‘deep water emergence’, you can even see deep-water animals such as black coral in the shallow waters, making this a very unique opportunity. You’re guided through the Milford Sound story with information panels covering culture, heritage, history, geology and wildlife, so you can gain a deeper understanding of how the natural beauty of the area came to exist. This attraction is best enjoyed when coupled with a boat tour, so you can experience the marine landscape from above and below water!

Milford Sound Discovery Centre & Underwater Observatory

Address: Harrisons Cove, Milford Sound 9600, New Zealand

Website: Milford Sound Discovery Centre & Underwater Observatory

Milford Sound Cruise Including Underwater Observatory and Lunch

Duration: 3 hours

1 review

4. Lady Elizabeth Bowen Falls

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Lady Elizabeth Bowen Falls is one of Milford Sound’s permanent waterfalls, and also the fiord’s highest at 162 m (531 ft)! In Maori, the falls are known as Hine Te Awa - ‘girl on the river’ - as the lower third of the falls resemble the plumage of the Te Kereru bird, or New Zealand Wood Pigeon. These falls aren’t just a display of nature’s beauty, however: they’re actually Milford Sound’s sole source of power and water, and without them the town couldn’t operate! Stand on the shore and feel the spray of the waterfall, or kayak in the wash, basking in the magnificence of nature.

Lady Elizabeth Bowen Falls

Address: Milford Sound Hwy | Milford Sound Visitor Terminal, Milford Sound 9846, New Zealand

Website: Lady Elizabeth Bowen Falls

5. Humboldt Falls

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Humboldt Falls is a breathtaking spectacle of natural beauty; located in the Serpentine Range, it splashes down the mountainside in three leaps. It can only be seen from the official viewing platform, so its beauty is elusive and can only be seen by those who know! Included in the New Zealand Must See Waterfalls list, it’s certainly worth a visit, and there are several other waterfalls (such as Lake Marian Falls) to explore nearby. After a rainy period, another waterfall can appear on either side of Humboldt, creating an awe-inspiring scenic display.

Humboldt Falls

Address: Fiordland National Park 9679, New Zealand

Website: Humboldt Falls

6. Milford Track Guided Hikes (from USD 108.0)

Prefer to explore Milford Sound’s nature by foot? Join a guided hike to appreciate the internationally-acclaimed natural beauty with an experienced guide to show you the best routes! A range of experiences are on offer, from a four-day hike which encompasses the entire length of the Milford Track, to shorter tour options that will still give you a great taste of the picturesque hiking route. You’ll witness the stunning Clinton River, ancient beech forests and grassy flats, with an expert nature guide explaining the history of the track while pointing our native bird and plant life. Lace up your hiking boots and grab your rucksack - it’s time for an adventure through New Zealand’s wilderness like no other!

Milford Track Guided Hikes

Address: Milford Sound, NZ


Half-Day Milford Track Guided Hiking Tour

Duration: 5 hours

7. Milford Sound Sightseeing Cruise (from USD 58.0)

Want to get up close to Milford Sound’s fascinating marine wildlife? Escape the tourist crowds and learn more about the natural beauty of the area? Then book a cruise on this boutique vessel, where you can relax in luxury lounge-style seating, hear live commentary from the skipper, enjoy complimentary hot drinks and take in the stunning scenery. The boat is smaller than standard cruises, meaning you can get closer to local wildlife such as dolphins, fur seals, and maybe even the rare Fiordland Crested Penguin! The cruise travels the full length of the fiord, so it’s great for adventurous visitors - bring your camera and create some beautiful memories.

Milford Sound Sightseeing Cruise Including optional Lunch

Duration: 1 hour 45 minutes

10 reviews

Indulge in Milford Sound's magnificent natural beauty

Milford Sound
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user paul bica used under CC BY 2.0

With such a wide range of ways to explore Milford Sound, you’re bound to find your perfect excursion. Grab your camera, put on your hiking boots and secure your lifejacket - there’s a New Zealand adventure just waiting for you!

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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