Milford Sound is actually a fjord, having been carved by a glacier.
Like the rest of Fiordland, Milford Sound receives a lot of rain. Indeed, some tour operators argue that the sound is best seen on a rainy day as all the waterfalls can be seen in their full glory. Many recommend seeing it during a sunny day and in the rain to see both worlds as they are both very different and amazing.
Wear rainwear and carry an umbrella to protect photographic equipment.
Note: Bring bug repellant. The sand flies here are evil. But it won't help to get all the other travelers, boats, planes and helicopters away... :)
Hightlights: One of the most awe inspiring ways to see Milford Sound, is from the water level itself.
There are two ways to ways to explore the Milford Sound from the water:
There are several boat operators who offer day cruises. Most guided tours from Te Anau or Queenstown arrive in Milford around noon, so it is advisable to escape the crowds by going on an early-morning or late-afternoon cruise. If you intend to take photographs, the quality of light is usually better around those times as well. We took the last cruise and it was perfect, no traffic to get to Milford Sounds and no hurry at the boat.
There is also the option of an extended cruise on Milford Sound - overnight cruises operated by Real Journeys.
Milford Deep Underwater Observatory.
This place can only be reached via one of the cruises. What they are trying to do is interesting, but they charge a lot to see the place and you get a whopping 15 mins total there. There is not even enough time to look through the displays. www.milforddeep.co.nz
Your proximity to the water in a kayak just serves to make you feel even smaller, and makes the Sound seem even more vast! The pros of doing it this way are that you get to go places that the big cruise ships cannot, you see a great deal more wildlife (penguins, seals etc.) as you move more quietly through the water, you are part of a small group (between 6 and 8) and so getting more personal attention from your guide, and you get some exercise in the process. Cons are that it is quite hard work and you should be prepared to get cold and wet. A good way of doing this kind of trip is on a 'one day package'. You can be picked up from your accommodations early in the morning (around 6:30AM) in Te Anau by minibus and driven to Milford, where you are kitted out with all the relevant kayak and safety gear and given waterproof bags to take cameras and food with you. The trip lasts till the late afternoon (lunch is taken in your kayaks in the middle of the Sound) and you will be driven back for around 6PM.
Things to see:
- Spectacular scenery. Dolphins, waterfalls, seals and penguins. Of special interest is the New Zealand Glow Worm. Watch out for it's bioluminescent glow after dark. - Sheer rock walls coming straight out of the sea, fantastic waterfalls and Mitre Peak.
Milford Sound video in DivX Quality: traveldudes.org/travel-videos/world-famous-milfordsound-fjordland-new-zealand/1061