Milford Sound is regularly described as an eighth wonder of the world and has an international reputation for its beauty so I was particularly excited about coming to see it. It is 16km in length and has an average depth of 330m. It is the northernmost of 14 fiords which make up the coastline of Fiordland National Park. We had been told how rare it was to get a clear day to see the area so were surprised to have cloudless blue skies for the entire journey.
Many people associate Milford Sound with the famous images of Mitre Peak that you see in guidebooks and whilst you do see this from the boat cruise there is more to the area than just this image. The drive through Fiordland to reach Milford Sound is just as spectacular as the fiord itself (technically it’s a fiord rather than a sound) and is not one you want to sleep through.
Fiordland gets about 7m of rain a year, hence the unlikelihood of getting a dry clear day when doing the journey. There are still places within Fiordland National Park which haven’t been stepped foot on which is an incredible thought, but makes sense when you see how densely packed the vegetation is and how intimidating the mountains look. We were able to see everything really clearly which was spectacular but apparently it is just as wonderful when it it raining as there is such a huge increase in the number of waterfalls that you see.
Eglinton River was our first stop of the day to see the lupins which were in flower. There are lupins all over the place at the moment and I have to admit that I think they look really pretty but as they aren’t native they are regarded as weeds. Slightly further along we stopped at the mirror lakes in Eglinton Valley to give us the opportunity to walk through some of the beech trees which are abundant in this area. The lakes weren’t perfectly still so we didn’t get a complete mirror image but it was still beautiful.
Another stop which was particularly noteworthy was at Monkey Creek. You can fill up your water bottles in the stream as it’s very pure glacial meltwater. You are also surrounded by the rugged mountain scenery and can really appreciate the power of nature. Watch out for cheeky Keas in the car park as they will try to steal food and peck parts of your car. The Milford Highway is meant to be one of the the most beautiful roads in the world which I can completely understand and there are lots of beautiful photo stops along the way. It’s not the easiest to drive though so I’d recommend a bus tour to Milford Sound as it means you can just sit back and enjoy the scenery – one of the tour companies even has a bus with a glass roof!
The cruise itself was very enjoyable and a great way to see and fully appreciate the fiord. Sitting on top of the boat is easily the best view although it does get very windy so make sure you’re wearing plenty of layers. There’s also a chance you’ll get wet as the boat turns underneath Stirling Falls. We didn’t see any dolphins or penguins unfortunately but we did see some New Zealand Fur Seals sunning themselves on the rocks.
We travelled to Milford Sound from Queenstown and then went straight on to Invercargill which made for a very long day but it was certainly worthwhile. It was every bit as beautiful as I’d hoped for.