Milford Sound Cruises

Your Guide to Milford Sound: Planning the Perfect Adventure

While there's no doubt that Milford Sound is Fiordland's crown jewel, planning the perfect experience can be tricky. Don't let planning drown your Milford Sound dreams. We've got you covered. 

This guide cuts through all that noise and delivers must-know info on cracking the Milford Sound travel code —operating hours, the best ways to get there, activities you can add to your list, and the best stays for your budget and style.

Plus, we also get you insider tips to maximize your Milford Sound experience. Ready to dive in? Read on for more.

Milford Sound | Visitor Information at a Glance

Milford Sound plan your visit
  • What are Milford Sound cruise & tour operating hours?
    Milford Sound cruises & tours start from 6 in the morning. However, timings may vary depending on your choice of tour.
  • Where is Milford Sound located?
    Situated in the southwestern region of New Zealand's South Island, Milford Sound is within the boundaries of Fiordland National Park.
  • What are the ways I can get to Milford Sound?
    You can get to Milford Sound by coach, flight, or car.
  • How many visitors does Milford Sound see per year?
    Milford Sound gets around 1 million visitors each year.

Milford Sound cruises & tours timings

Best Time to Visit Milford Sound
Milford Sound plan your visit

From Te Anau

Tour timings: 6:30 AM, 8 AM, 8:30 AM, 10 AM, 11 AM

From Queenstown

Tour timings: 6:10 AM, 7 AM, 7:40 AM, 8:40 AM, 9 AM, 1:45 PM

From Milford Sound

Tour timings: 9:30 AM, 11 AM, 12 AM, 1:30 PM, 2:30 PM

From Milford Track

Tour timings: 8:45 AM

Tourist photographing the mountains surrounding Milford Lake

Weekends vs weekdays

The best time to visit Milford Sound is during the weekdays, as weekends tend to attract more visitors. To avoid crowds and fully appreciate the serene beauty, it's advisable to plan visits during the quieter weekdays. Additionally, the early morning or late afternoon offers the most enchanting views with soft lighting, creating a magical atmosphere.

High season vs low season

While Milford Sound is captivating year-round, the low tourist season occurs during the winter months (June to August), making it an ideal time for those seeking a more intimate experience. However, be prepared for colder temperatures, road closures, and occasional rain. The high tourist season peaks from November to March, with warmer weather, but it's essential to book accommodations and activities in advance due to increased demand.

Where is Milford Sound Located?

Address: Milford Sound, Fiordland National Park, South Island, New Zealand

Find on Google Maps

Milford Sound is a breathtaking fiord located in the southwestern part of New Zealand's South Island, within Fiordland National Park.

How to Get to Milford Sound?

Glass roof coach to travel to Milford Sound

Tour transport options

By Coach (Included in Milford Sound Tours from Te Anau & Queenstown)

Buses are available from Te Anau, Queenstown, and nearby towns. The coach journey, lasting 4-5 hours from Queenstown, offers informative commentary and scenic stops along the way.

By Scenic Flight (Included in Milford Sound Tours from Te Anau & Queenstown)

Opt for a scenic flight departing from Queenstown, providing an aerial perspective. The 1 hour 45 minutes flight showcases breathtaking views of the Southern Alps and Milford Sound, concluding at Milford Sound Airport.

Driving through forest to Milford Sound

By car

Embark on a picturesque road trip by driving from Te Anau to Milford Sound along Milford Road (State Highway 94). The approximately 2-hour journey allows for stops at various scenic viewpoints, enhancing the overall experience.

Parking facilities 

If you are driving a car, you can use any of the parking lots available near Milford Sound.

  1. Milford Sound Public Carpark is a paid facility 550 m away from the sound.
  2. Deepwater Basin Parking is a free parking lot, about 1.3 km from the attraction.
  3. The Chasm car park is at a distance of 9.8 km.

Know before you go

Guided Tours
Rules & Regulations
Milford Sound facilities
  • Accessibility: You can bring strollers or wheelchairs onboard while enjoying the Milford Sound Cruise, provided they fit the entrance of the vessel. However, not all tours might be accessible by wheelchair.
  • Dining options: Food and beverages are available with most Milford Sound Tour tickets.
  • Pick-up and drop-off: You can opt for Milford Sound tour options with pick-up and drop-off facilities from your hotel in Queenstown or Te Anau.
  • Local guides: Expert guides provide you with little-known facts and trivia about Milford Sound.
  • Toilets: Public toilets are available near the natural attraction.
Milford Sound Guided Tours

Guided tours are readily available for your trip to Milford Sound, offering a comprehensive experience for visitors. You can book Milford Sound Tour tickets with guides online in advance. These tours provide insightful commentary on the area's rich natural and cultural history in English, enriching your experience. Costs vary based on the chosen package, ranging from affordable options to more premium experiences, starting at NZ$125.

Milford Sound Rules & Regulations
  • Respect wildlife and maintain a safe distance, especially from seals and birds.
  • Adhere to designated walking paths to preserve the delicate ecosystem.
  • Minimize noise pollution to appreciate the serene environment and not disturb wildlife.
  • Capture the breathtaking scenery but be mindful of fellow visitors and wildlife.
  • Be aware of changing weather conditions; carry essentials like sunscreen and water.
Tips - Milford Sound
  • Ideal timing: Visit during the early morning or late afternoon for the best lighting and fewer crowds.
  • Attire: Wear comfortable outdoor active wear and sturdy walking shoes. Bring a rain jacket and consider dressing in layers for unpredictable weather.
  • Duration: Allow ample time; we recommend taking a half-day at the very least to explore and appreciate the surroundings fully.
  • What to bring: Pack essentials like sunglasses, sunscreen, a hat, insect repellent, and a power bank. Carry a water bottle for hydration.
  • Road stops: Check weather and road conditions for access to stops along Milford Road, including Mirror Lakes, Knobs Flat, and Monkey Creek.
  • Payment: Bring cash or EFTPOS/ credit card for onboard cafe or bar purchases and other transactions.
  • Health and safety: Be prepared for changing weather; bring essential medication if needed. Notify tour operators in advance if you exceed weight limits for scenic flights.
  • Traveling with children: Request child/booster seats and baby earmuffs if necessary for a comfortable and safe family experience.
Milford Sound - Dine

Pio Pio Restaurant: Approximately 2 km away from Milford Sound, this restaurant offers a wide variety of items, ranging from local fare to continental dishes.

Milford Sound - stay
Milford Sound - nearby
  • Giant Gate Falls: Giant Gate Falls is a majestic waterfall located in Milford Sound, New Zealand. Cascading from towering cliffs, the falls contribute to the awe-inspiring scenery of the fiord. You can witness the sheer power and beauty of nature as they take in the breathtaking views of Giant Gate Falls.
  • Mitre Peak: One of the most iconic landmarks in Milford Sound, Mitre Peak is a towering mountain that rises dramatically from the waters of the fiord. Its distinctive triangular shape and impressive height make it a must-see attraction. 
  • Milford Track: Renowned as one of the world's finest hiking trails, the Milford Track is a spectacular trek through Fiordland National Park. This 53.5-kilometer trail takes hikers through diverse landscapes, including rainforests, alpine meadows, and glacial valleys.

Frequently asked questions about visiting Milford Sound

Where is Milford Sound?

Milford Sound is located in the southwestern part of New Zealand's South Island, within Fiordland National Park.

Why should I visit Milford Sound?

You should visit Milford Sound for its unparalleled natural beauty, including towering cliffs, waterfalls, and the chance to cruise on the stunning fiord. It's a UNESCO World Heritage site and a must-see in New Zealand.

How much does it cost to visit Milford Sound?

Milford Sound tour costs vary, starting at NZ$125 and reaching up to NZ$529. Factors such as tour duration, covered areas, and inclusions influence the price.

What is the best time to visit Milford Sound?

The best time to visit Milford Sound is during the early morning or late afternoon on weekdays for a better experience of the stunning natural surroundings. Early spring to autumn (September to March) offers favorable weather conditions although Milford Sound is beautiful throughout the year.

What are the Milford Sound opening hours?

Milford Sound, being a natural attraction, doesn't have specific opening hours. You can access the area during daylight hours, and tours may operate at various times. Your tour timings will vary according to the Milford Sound tour tickets you choose.

Can I visit Milford Sound in a group?

Yes, you can visit Milford Sound in a group. Many guided tours and transport services cater to both small and large groups. You can opt for any of the tour options available.

Can I visit Milford Sound with my kids?

Yes, you can visit Milford Sound with your kids. The scenic beauty and wildlife can be captivating for children, but plan for their comfort and consider shorter tours. Keep in mind that some tours are only suitable for children aged 8 or above.

Is Milford Sound wheelchair friendly?

Accessibility varies according to the tour you choose. While some tour options, like the cruise, are wheelchair-friendly, the rugged terrain may pose challenges. It's advisable to review your options thoroughly for specific arrangements.

Can I buy food and drinks at Milford Sound?

Yes, you can buy food and drinks at or near Milford Sound. Most Milford Sound tours also provide complimentary or optional food and beverages. You may also consider carrying snacks and beverages with you.

How long does it take to visit Milford Sound?

The duration of a visit depends on your chosen activities. Cruises typically take about 1.5 to 2 hours but plan for additional time to explore the surroundings. Your tour may take anywhere between 2 hours to 12 hours depending on the Milford Sound tour ticket you book.