When I left for New Zealand, I only had three specific things in mind to photograph while I was here: The Hobbiton Movie Set, the incredible night sky, and Milford Sound. Fortunately, I was able to tick each one off my list (and then some). Of all the vistas and scenic places I visited here, the last one was by far the most spectacular. I wouldn’t be exaggerating to say it’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever been.
- Bring bug spray / insect repellant. You’ll need it.
- No cell phone service from any NZ carrier.
- One lodge; one restaurant. Both are nice.
- Plan for rain. Milford Sound gets 265 inches annually.
- Take the walking path south of the ferry terminal.
Getting to Milford Sound
I booked the ‘Milford Explorer’ day trip package with my Kiwi Experience bus, which provided round trip transportation out to Milford Sound from Queenstown, as well as a two hour cruise through the Sound and out to the Tasman Sea. On the particular day I left, it was quite cloudy and dreary. While still en-route, I decided I’d stay overnight and come back the following day, just in case the weather didn’t clear up. Since the Kiwi Experience bus was making a run out to Milford Sound the next day with another group, it was no trouble to hop on that bus to go back to Queenstown.
If you’re traveling by bus (they all make trips out to Milford Sound), you can usually opt for a one-way ticket out, then fly back to Queenstown for around $375 NZD. The flight takes less than two hours, as opposed to the five hour bus ride. If you’ve got the cash, it’s guaranteed to give a unique view of Fjordland National Park, as well as all the mountains around Queenstown.
Milford Sound Accommodations
The only place to stay out at Milford Sound is, of course, Milford Lodge. They have rooms and accommodations for just about anybody, from the budget conscious backpacker to the family of five. I stayed in a four-bed dorm with a family of 3 from Australia and it was clean, quiet, and comfortable. Nightly rate was $30 NZD.
The lodge has a communal kitchen, laundry, shared and en-suite bathrooms, and a cafe. Just as everywhere else in New Zealand, I recommend coming prepared with everything you need, as they’ll nickel and dime you for every last thing possible ($2 to ‘rent’ a towel?).
Just a heads up: there’s absolutely zero cell phone service once you enter Fjordland National Park, so handle all your important business with the outside world before you leave Te Anau
Cruising Milford Sound
Once we got out to Milford Sound, we loaded right up on the Pride of Milford catamaran and set off. The views from the boat were spectacular, and really helped you learn about and appreciate the area. Milford Sound isn’t actually a sound at all; its a fjord, a long, narrow inlet created by the movement of glaciers. Accordingly, Milford Sound is located in Fjordland National Park.
The 8th Wonder of the World
While you’re there, enjoy the time you’re cut off from the outside world. Quiet your mind and soak up as much as you can with all your senses. It’s truly a magnificent place unlike any other. If you want to catch a sunrise or sunset, use this website to check the times before you go.