Milford Sound is New Zealand’s most spectacular natural attraction
The one place that was forever imprinted in my memory from our New Zealand trip was the world-famous Fiordland National Park with its natural wonders Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound.
The gateway to both these fjords is Te Anau, a nice, scenic stopover with a cute town centre, an alpine lake with the same name and a great place to grab a hotel overnight.
Milford Highway in Fiordland National Park is the only road from Te Anau to Milford Sound. I already mentioned this picturesque road in my previous blog ‘Scenic Alpine Roads of New Zealand 2“. We travelled this road twice in our hired car, both times in summertime, which in New Zealand means from December to March. Be aware that this is an alpine road and while the landscape may be gorgeous, in winter it can be dangerous because of the snow and ice on the road and the risk of avalanches.
Milford Sound has clean waters and incredible scenery with spectacular mountain formations. Hop on a cruise and get close to the most spectacular nature you will ever encounter! There are not that many places in the world that can compete with the view over the Freshwater Basin and Mitre Peak on a beautiful day with cruise boats and white clouds reflected in the crystal clear water of the fjord.
Milford Sound Resort Town has limited accommodation and it is better to book your cruise in advance. The cruises starting point is from Southern Discoveries Wharf and, if you are lucky, you can book your cruise on the spot. Summer is the busy season and we booked our cruise with RealJourney two months beforehand.
Epic Journey on the Overnight Cruise at Milford Sound
It is not unusual for the weather to change quite rapidly in this location. In a few days, we had everything from blue skies, colourful sunsets and stormy clouds. Be aware that Milford Sound receives more rainfall than any other place in New Zealand. Be prepared to protect yourself and your gear and you will be able to capture incredible landscape photography on your visit.
When we boarded our cruise, we had dramatic weather conditions, with clouds engulfing the mountain peaks surrounding the Freshwater Basin including the famous Mitre Peak.
Day cruise or overnight, rain or shine, you are bound to have a great time. And you will come home with your ‘once in a lifetime wonderful snapshots’! Another challenge will be the fact that the boat is still moving even when it is moored. You will have a difficult time trying any long exposure or time-lapse and you have to be versed to capture the dynamic range as the light will be quite challenging! All being said, even casual tourists with mobile phones will be able to come home with something amazing. Maybe the best time to capture your best shot is when the weather clears up after the rainfall.
Due to the verticality of the fjords, hundreds of new waterfalls begin streaming from the cliff edges after the rain, which I found fascinating. There are permanent waterfalls like Bowen Falls and Stirling Falls and the boat will get you close to one or both of them in your voyage.
The weather cleared up soon after we got on the boat and a beautiful sunset followed, which was only surpassed by the sunrise the next day. The Milford Sound Cruise stopped overnight at the beautiful and out-of-the-way Harrison Cove with a spectacular mountain range surrounded by clouds.
The pristine waters of the fjord sparkle in the sunlight, creating an ethereal feeling. You are lost in the wilderness of the natural world and away from any light pollution. I have to say, our little cabin was very comfortable and the food they served for dinner and breakfast was really good, but I barely noticed them in all the excitement.
In the morning we had beautiful light on our Cruise ride up to the fjord opening into the Tasman Sea. People on the boat could observe the fjord’s wildlife in its natural habitat. Bottlenose Dolphins were swimming playfully alongside the cruise boat and fur seals were sitting on the rocks on the shore.
Other activities available were rainforest nature walks and kayaking for the people brave enough to stand the freezing waters. There are many companies offering half-day cruises if you don’t want to spend the night on the boat.
Thank you for following me on this journey through the unspoiled alpine scenery of Milford Sound! Next Blog: Doubtful Sound: