We had an amazing cruise on Milford Sound in New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park, with good weather and plenty of space on the cruise ship (few people). The water was smooth, other than for a few minutes as we turned around in the surf at the end of the sound, which greatly helped me enjoy the trip without motion sickness. Other than a few clouds, the air and sky were clear, and we could see for miles and miles (or kilometres and kilometres). It was a wonderful day in a gorgeous place.
We bought our cruise on Milford Sound for half price on Grab One, and we had originally scheduled our cruise for Monday at 1 pm. Because we could see the weather would be nicer on Tuesday, we rescheduled for that day. We’re really glad we did so, because, as I said, the day was just about perfect. We also scheduled for earlier in the day after we read and heard that the 1:00 cruise is the one all the tour buses go to, and as we returned to the dock from our cruise, we could see huge crowds waiting to go out on our returning boat.
If we can recommend anything about taking a cruise on Milford Sound, it would be to take the earlier trip. The water is usually calmer earlier in the day, and you will also avoid the huge crowds of the 1:00 cruise. The weather is very changeable in this part of New Zealand, since the mountains climb so quickly and high out of the ocean. So, it is difficult to plan for a day in advance when the weather will be nicest, but if you are able to stay a few days in the area, you can choose the day which seems to have the best weather.
The drive from Te Anau to Milford Sound takes a bit less than two hours, even with stops along the way. And there are certainly many places worthy of a stop and even a bit of a walk. Mirror Lake was impressive, even though it wasn’t perfectly smooth when we were there. There are so many amazing mountain peaks and lakes to see from many turnouts along the way. There are several walks that are also worthwhile if you’ve the time and energy.
The Milford Sound cruise takes slightly less than two hours, but the time seemed to pass more quickly than that. The place is amazing, gorgeous, impressive, beautiful. Andrew and I, while later talking with a friend without having previously discussed this between ourselves, each mentioned that these mountains (New Zealand’s Fiordlands) are now our number three favourite mountains of the world, replacing California’s Sierra Nevada. (Switzerland’s Alps are our number one, and Canada’s Rocky Mountains are number two.)
The most famous mountain in Milford Sound is also the most impressive one you can see from the dock, namely, Mitre Peak, so named because the mountain’s shape is similar to that of a bishop’s hat (mitre). This is one of the most photographed peaks in all of New Zealand, and rightly so with its rise straight out of the water of Milford Sound.
There are literally hundreds of waterfalls in Milford Sound, though most of them are both small and intermittent, falling only during rainfalls. The day before our cruise, it had rained fairly heavily, so many of the waterfalls were in evidence.
You can click on the photos on this page (and every page in my blog) to see a larger version of the photos. I took nearly 400 photos of this place, and the ones here are a very small sampling.
We ate lunch after our cruise on the way back to our Te Anau motel at the Tutoko River, just above Milford Sound, on a small bridge with a view of Mount Tutoko. It was a lovely setting for lunch and seemed to be popular with other tourists.
I just cannot say enough about New Zealand’s Fiordlands. They are amazing, simply amazing, and gorgeous and interesting. I think this is now my favourite part of New Zealand (other than our own home, of course), and I expect we’ll visit here again. Perhaps next time, we’ll even be able to do some tramping (hiking) along a trail or two, maybe even overnight somewhere in the wilderness.