Milford Sound, New Zealand [Gallery]

Milford Sound, New Zealand

Since I got back from backpacking New Zealand earlier this year, I’ve been attempting to get caught up on the thousands of photos I took. I’d originally posted a few in a previous post, but wanted to jump back and add several more updated images.

This updated gallery includes photos from the drive out to Milford Sound, part of Fiordland National Park in the South West New Zealand World Heritage Area.

5 Quick Facts About Milford Sound –

  • Milford Sound isn’t actually a ‘sound’ at all; it’s a fiord (defined: a long, deep, narrow inlet of the sea between high cliffs, typically formed by the submergence of a glaciated valley).
  • Mitre Peak, at the center of Milford Sound, is the highest point in the fiord, standing 1,692 meters (5,551 feet) tall.
  • Milford Sound is the most traveled tourist destination in New Zealand, seeing roughly 1 million visitors each year.
  • The native Maori people discovered Milford Sound some 1,000 years ago, traveling here seasonally to collect food.
  • Milford Sound is the wettest place in New Zealand and one of the wettest on Earth. Annual rainfall averages 6,813 mm (269 inches).

There’s a walking path out to an excellent viewing point with great scenic views of the pinnacle Milford Sound view.

Milford Sound, New Zealand

On the single-road drive out to Milford Sound, you’ll see extremely diverse landscapes; from flat planes to rolling hills to sharp, steep peaks. 

Milford Sound, New Zealand - Fiordland National Park

The road winds around, up the hills and down into the valleys, with scenic views like this one. Depending on the time of year you visit, you’ll see various different colors painting the landscape.

milford-sound-drive-road-fiordland

There are several scenic stops along the way you won’t want to miss, like Mirror Lakes, a small group of ponds that stand completely still, providing great reflections of the mountains behind them.

mirror-lakes-new-zealand

Once you get to Milford Sound, do yourself a favor and take on of the scenic boat tours. The cruise will take you through the fiord and out to the mouth of the Tasman Sea.

Pride of Milford Cruise Ship in Milford Sound

Once you’re out on the water, most the cliffs throughout the fiord tower some 1,200 meters above you.

milford-sound-glacier-tour-cruise-fiordlandThere are two waterfalls in Milford Sound that are active year-round: Lady Bowen Falls and Stirling Falls, pictured below.

Milford Sound Waterfall

A look at the top of Stirling Falls, some 155 meters above you.

Milford Sound, New Zealand Waterfall

Lady Bowen falls, pictured below, is 162 meters tall. It’s the exit point of the Bowen River, and the falls provide electricity for the Milford Sound settlement via a small hydroelectric generator at the bottom.

Lady Bowen Falls - Milford Sound, NZ

The “fingers” of the fiord have smaller fingers of their own that offshoot from the main channel, such as this one.

Milford Sound, New Zealand

Pay close attention for wildlife you’ll see out on the water. Milford Sound is home to three species of dolphins, two species of penguins, and the New Zealand Fur Seals, pictured on the rocks below.

New Zealand Fur Seals in Milford Sound

After a day out on the water or hiking the trails, kick back and relax at Milford Lodge, the only accommodations in Milford Sound. They offer hostel-like bunk rooms and private rooms alike, and have a full breakfast available in the mornings. Rates are reasonable, even though they have a clear monopoly on lodging.

milford-lodge-new-zealand

If you head to the walking path near the boat docks, you’ll find a great observation area down the trail, where you can catch some of the most breathtaking sunsets you’ve ever seen.

Sunset at Milford Sound, New Zealand

A few other notes about Milford Sound –

  • Pack some bug spray / insect repellant. You’ll need it.
  • There is no mobile service in Fiordland National Park, so your time at Milford Sound will be spent disconnected from the outside world.
  • There is one restaurant: The Blue Duck Cafe and Bar, open 365 days a year.

Resources for You:

If you need general information and travel resources for New Zealand, you’ll want to check out my Travel Resources: New Zealand page.

About Mike Beauchamp

After a divorce, losing his job, selling his house, a tumultuous relationship and subsequent breakup, Mike sold 80% of his belongings, put another 18% in storage, and packed the remaining 2% into a backpack and hit the road. Mike is currently a vagabond of sorts, traveling the world with only what he can carry on his back. He has two objectives in all of this: to photograph the most beautiful places on Earth and to finally take the time to get to know himself. You can follow Mike on Twitter (@mbchp) for more frequent updates.

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