Visit; The Magical Milford Sound

Want your mind blown with ridiculously beautiful scenery? Get yo'self to Milford Sound - stat. 

Located deep in the Fiordland National Park; Milford Sound thrives on it's remoteness. With only one road leading in, it's a surreal journey into the heart of Fiordland and Mother Nature when she's absolutely on point. 



Milford Sound was named after Milford Haven in Wales when Welshman John Grono discovered it in 1823. But ladies and gentleman, Milford Sound is built on a web of lies, it isn't even a sound, its a fiord. YOU HAD ONE JOB JOHN! 
Sounds are formed by rivers, fiords are formed by glaciers - crack open a Geography textbook John. 
Despite being named incorrectly; Milford Sound Fiord & the Fiordland National Park in New Zealand's South Island is honestly one of the most beautiful and magical places I have visited. 



I was half expecting to be drenched the entire day because Fiordland National Park is one of the wettest places on Earth; receiving around 6813mm of rainfall every year. But the magic of Milford Sound was with me and I got perfect blue skies with zero drops of rain. A bit of rainfall isn't a bad thing though, it creates impressive waterfalls cascading from the cliffs. 

Visitors usually make the journey from one of two places; Te Anau  (121km) or Queenstown (288km).  The drive there is long but there's a plenty of amazing spots to stop along the way. 
Because I still haven't caught onto this whole driving trend, I rely on public transport / organised tours when I travel #foreverapassenger
I chose to do the day trip with Milford Sound Select - a coach tour departing from Queenstown. Discounted tickets are available on my absolute favourite website www.bookme.co.nz

With pick ups starting around 6am from Queenstown, spending the next 12-13 hours exploring this stunning part of New Zealand will be totally worth the early wake up call. 
Try to fight the urge to nap and focus your attention on the stupidly-pretty scenery unfolding around you. The remarkable Remarkables (never heard that one before I bet!) Mountain range extend to the left as you leave Queenstown. They are only one of two ranges in the world that run direct North to South. 
The road travels along the Devil's Staircase on the edge of Lake Wakatipu, New Zealand's longest lake at 80km. On a clear day, as the sun is rising the colours the colours are a beautyyyy.  


Our driver Jamie was an absolute fountain of knowledge and I was really impressed with the volume of facts and information I learnt throughout the day. He made it a memorable experience, not just seeing everything, but getting to learn and understand the history and geography behing this spectacular area. 
A stop at Te Anau is a must do, not just to stretch the legs, but to stock up on snaxxx. Here is the last opportunity to visit a shop before arriving into Milford Sound. 
I'm all about food, so make sure you visit Miles Better Pies on Milford Road - good grief, they are good pies. It's also worth walking down to Lake Te Anau, the largest of the Southern Glacier lakes.



Between Te Anau and Milford is the almighty 120km Milford Sound. A bloody beautiful scenic highway with outrageous backdrops. One of the first stops along this stretch is at Eglinton Valley; gorgeous golden pastures lined with tussock, deep green forests and the brightest blue skies. 
A short drive up the road is another popular stop; Mirror Lakes. Take a quick walk along the boardwalk and hopefully you'll have you yourself a still day to get a perfect reflection of the Earl Mountains in the water. 
Into optical illusions? You'll love the Avenue of Disappearing Mountains. Sounds so dramatic but the illusion just causes the mountains to seem smaller, rather then larger as you approach them. Tripppy.
I have a thing for snow-capped mountains; like I get excited about them maybe on par with when I see a cat. So my day was filled with excitable squeals and "wowwwwwwws" in response to some of the most memorable scenery in New Zealand. 
Some of the mountains in this area are the filming location in the Lord of the Rings for the Misty Mountain scenes in Fellowship of the Ring so that was also cool. 




The main reason we can actually visit Milford Sound is the Homer Tunnel, at 1.2km, it is New Zealand's second-longest road tunnel. Ooooo
The tunnel is just one-road so has traffic lights either ed. If you're lucky, you might get some red-light entertainment from the local Keas as they snack on car tire's or try to hop into open car doors. 


Through the tunnel, adjust your eyes as you emerge into the Cleddau Valley and are greeted with fantastic views of the winding road down to the wharf at Milford Sound with the subtropical forests of the west coast in the background. Welcome to the "8th Wonder of the World". 

I had a great time just on the drive to Milford Sound, haven't even started the main attraction yet! Your camera will be glued to your hand as you drive through this UNESCO World Heritage Site. I literally wanted to jump off the coach every 5 minutes. 
Once you reach the base of the valley, there are a swarm of vessels taking thousands of eager visitors into the fiord.


A cruise is a quick and pretty inexpensive way to see the famous fiord and experience its magnificence. There are departures throughout the day, giving you so many options to experience the fiord. Most cruises depart in the middle of the day or in the afternoon which gives you plenty of time to make the journey from either Queenstown or Te Anau.

Once onboard the vessel, you can either get yourself a nice comfy seat inside, or head up to the top-deck and get the best panoramic views. Naturally I was straight up to the top and held my ground front and centre. 

Standing in all its glory ahead is the almighty Mitre Peak; probably the most photographed mountain in New Zealand. It's an unmistakable iconic landmark. Mitre Peak is one of the tallest mountains in the world to emerge from the sea at 1692m.
An abundance of waterfalls await as you journey towards the opening to the Tasman Sea and back; Bowen Falls, Fairy Falls, Stirling Falls, Bridal Veil Falls ... SO MANY FALLS. 




The scenery here is pretty ridiculous, but you want to focus on the wildlife in the waters below too. Because of the 2-4m layer of fresh water that sits on top, the fiords in this area are home to wildlife that would normally live in deeper waters, can now thrive near the surface here. Yay
Keep an eye out for the local bottlenose & dusky dolphins, fur seals and even penguins!
The cruise was 2.5 hours of pure delight. Yeah it was a bit cold, yeah it was windy AF but I saw seals and got way too excited when I saw penguin so it was the best damn day ever. 


The journey back to Queenstown was spent reflecting on what I had been lucky enough to experience and to be honest, making me question all decisions about living in Auckland. 
I do this a lot, I go somewhere pretty, usually with a mountain, and a lake or some body of water as a bonus, and then I'm set on living there. 

I would absolutely love to revisit during or after heavy rainfall to see how impressive the waterfalls could be. But for now I am so content with my day trip there and another bucket list ticked off. 



I am constantly being below away by this truly stunning country and Milford Sound is yet another place that has stolen my heart. 

Milford Sound & Fiordland National Park Video coming soon (ish)...

Thanks for reading & happy travels 

♡ G

Join me on Instagram @gemwills 



& follow me as I continue my New Zealand Adventure! 

Coming next: Stray New Zealand; a guide to planning your New Zealand adventure



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