When I did a tour of the South Island of New Zealand a while back everyone was telling me that I needed to see Milford Sound. As always I never believe what people say and I thought – yeah maybe! We were staying in Queenstown for a few days and we had some spare time so I decided well if everyone is saying it’s so good then maybe I should check it out! So we headed down to Te Anau for a night so that we could make the trip out to Milford Sound the next day. Now I know why everyone was saying you need to go there!

From the minute you leave Te Anau the scenery is breathtaking. It is about a two hour drive from Te Anau but I promise you will not be bored. After the drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy, I think this would have to be the next best drive in the world. Oh wait, scratch that – third best drive in the world. Athabasca Way in Canada still wins hands down, but all three drives are absolutely stunning and a must do. So back to Milford, there are flowing valleys filled with wildflowers, lakes that have mirror like reflections ,  big and small waterfalls flowing with arctic blue water, lush rainforests filled with trees covered in moss, massive mountains and more to keep you captivated.

Mossy rainforest, Milford Sound
Mossy rainforest, Milford Sound
The road to Milford Sound
The road to Milford Sound
Open fields formed by massive mountains, Milford Sound
Open fields framed by massive mountains, Milford Sound

You definitely need to make a stop at Mirror Lakes which is a lake that perfectly reflects the mountains surrounding it. Its stunning to see and a good distance for a break from driving. On a still day they display a perfect reflection of the Earl Mountains.

Mirror Lake, known for its perfect reflections, Milford Sound
Mirror Lake, known for its perfect reflections, Milford Sound

Then you come to the Avenue of the Disappearing Mountain, where an optical illusion causes the approaching mountain to get smaller rather than larger. Upon reaching Lake Gunn,  we stretched our legs on the nature walk – an easy 45 minute loop track. You walk through lush, mossy rainforest until you come out on the other side right on the shores of Lake Gunn which is stunning to see also.

Lush rainforest, Milford Sound
Lush rainforest, Milford Sound
Lake Gunn, Milford Sound
Lake Gunn, Milford Sound

We couldn’t help but stop at this stream and gorgeous waterfall on the other side of the road. The water was so blue I just wanted to dive in except it was a bit chilly that day.

Streams running everywhere with the purest water, Milford Sound
Streams running everywhere with the purest water, Milford Sound
I was tempted to dive into this gorgeous water if it wasn't so cold! Milford Sound
I was tempted to dive into this gorgeous water if it wasn’t so cold! Milford Sound

The Homer Tunnel signalled the descent to Milford Sound. This tunnel, which is hewed from solid granite, took nearly 20 years to complete. From mouth to mouth it measures 1270 metres. After driving through the tunnel we came out to this magical view.

The beautiful Fjords of Milford Sound
The famous Mitre Peak, Milford Sound

After having a bit of a walk around and a bite to eat it was time to board the cruise boat that was going to take us through the Fjords. It was a beautiful day luckily because I have heard that it rains 90% of the year at Milford Sound. But the good thing is if it rains you get to see all the temporary waterfalls flowing down the mountains and it can be even more magical than on a clear day.

View from the cruise, Milford Sound
View of Elephant Mountain from the cruise boat, Milford Sound
Cruising through the majestic fjords
The Lion on the right, Milford Sound
Everyone on the cruise wating to see the waterfall
Everyone on the cruise wating to see the waterfall
Stirling Falls, Milford Sound
Stirling Falls, Milford Sound

Once we returned back to the dock after the cruise we hung around for sunset which was beautiful and we seemed to be the only people left. We pretty much had the whole place to ourselves! Make sure you take bug spray if you are hanging for sunset. The midges are relentless and love the taste of tourists!

Milford Sound at Sunset

Once the sun had retreated for the day we jumped back in our little Hyundai Getz hire car and headed back to Te Anau. Driving back through the tunnel at night was a bit scary. We were the only ones around and there was so much fog in the tunnel you really couldn’t see a metre in front of you so we had to go really slow and I kept waiting for the guy from the movie Wolf Creek to jump out and murder us!

Fortunately we made it back to Te Anau safely! Even though it was a long drive back it was definitely worth it just to see this magical place and now I know why everyone says “you have to go to Milford Sound”.  Just watch out for the pesky midgies!

Have you been to Milford Sound, New Zealand? If so, what was your experience like? I would love to know, so leave a comment below!

17 thoughts on “Milford Sound New Zealand – why you need to go there!

  1. I tried to get there two years ago, but there was a rock fall across the road. I didn’t give up easily. I made the drive from Queenstown in the dark and the rain early in the morning, and rolled into Te Anau about 8am. The girls at the cafe` in the middle of town told me to forget Milford Souns, so I headed off down to Invercargill instead. People in Central Otago had tried to tell me I didn’t need to go there, but I loved the place.

    1. Oh thats a bummer Stephen! Hopefully you will get to go back and see it sometime soon! I haven’t been to Invercargill yet but Ive have seen some awesome pictures of it. Im super keen to go back to New Zealand again soon and Im definitely going to head further south next time to check out that region!

    1. No probs Kiki! Its a special place. Hopefully you will get to experience it one day soon! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Milford Sound looks incredible. I have a trip planned for October but didn’t have Milford in the itinerary. I think I will be adding it after seeing this. Thanks Larissa.

    1. yes, you should definitely add Milford Sound to your itinerary Jake! I now know why everyone says you have to go there! Have an awesome time on your trip! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. This is stunning!

    The pictures and blog take me back to when I went to Milford sound – its breathtaking. When I went there was a lot of area covered by ice, so this is really cool to see how it is without that coverage.

    Thank you for posting this!

    1. My pleasure Caitlin! That would have been pretty cool to see covered in Ice! I would love to go back again in a different season and see the difference in beauty! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Such beautiful photographs. You have captured the essence and natural beauty of Milford Sound so well
    We flew in there via helicopter a few years ago, just stunning. Then a rather more scary small plane journey back to Queenstown
    Love your photography style

    1. Thank you so much Rachel! That would have been such an amazing experience seeing it from the air! I will have to try that one next time! ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. What a stunning place to visit. I was there last year – definitely a place everyone should visit at least once. The photos are amazing – thanks for sharing!

    1. Aww, thank you so much Ella. So glad you enjoyed the photos and your time at Milford Sound! Such an amazing place!

  6. Hi Larissa,

    May I ask what time of the year your trip to Milford Sound took place? (Just trying to plan a trip to NZ sometime this Spring or next Winter).


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