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Milford Sound

Welcome to Milford Sound – a fiord of unparalleled natural beauty and consistently ranked New Zealand’s 1# attraction. Milford Sound is a fiord located deep in the World Heritage listed and utterly stunning Fiordland National Park. Located in the South Island’s wild south-west, Milford Sound lies roughly 290km from Queenstown (about a three and a half hour drive) and 760km from Christchurch (nearly a nine hour drive). Milford Sound is certainly one of New Zealand’s finest crowning jewels and a dazzling experience waiting for you that you will never forget. more

Thousands of visitors visit Milford Sound every day making the fiord one of New Zealand's most visited and most famous tourist attractions. Almost every Milford Sound visitor takes a boat tour to view the amazing scenery and wildlife (fur seals, the endemic Fiordland Penguin, the worlds southernmost population of bottlenose dolphins, many native birds and even the occasional whale – mostly humpback and southern right whales). The fiord is surrounded by lush rainforest and sheer rock faces – including the iconic Mitre Peak (featuring on many Milford Sound postcards), The Elephant (said to resemble the head of an elephant) and The Lion (said to resemble a crouching lion). Milford Sound has two spectacular permanent waterfalls, the Lady Bowen (a 10 minute walk from Milford village) and Stirling Falls. After heavy rain (Milford Sound is the wettest inhabited place in New Zealand) hundreds of temporary waterfalls are created.

Being the wettest inhabited place in New Zealand, Milford Sound receives an incredibly high level of rainfall (with an astonishing 6.5 metres (21ft) falling annually). Come on a dry sunny day and see the fiord lit up before you with unimpeded views of the towering, steep mountain ranges arising abruptly out of the waters. Come on a rainy day and see this moody fiord come alive with hundreds of cascading waterfalls gushing headlong into the fiord all around you. Either way you with be greeted with such dramatic sights you will have to consult a dictionary for new superlatives to describe it.

Choose from a range of transport options to explore this magnificent fiord (the only New Zealand fiord easily accessed by road) – these primarily include; by bus (the most popular method is buses from either Te Anua or Queenstown), by airplane (there are small scenic flights into the into the small airport from Queenstown), by car or even by foot if you hike the world famous Milford Track. If you drive or bus there don’t nap through the drive – the road to Milford Sound is one of the most beautiful alpine drives in the world beset by endless eye-popping views.

Milford Sound owes its existence to the ice ages. During the ice ages, mighty glaciers wound, carved and grinded their way from the mountains chiselling away at the mountain slopes and creating great U-shaped valleys. Over time the planet warmed and the glaciers melted, the sea then flooded in to create what is known as a “fiord” (a flooded glacial valley). The effect of glacial carvings are evident today in the steepness of mountainsides plummeting vertically into the sea, leaving Milford Sound virtually enclosed with a halo of vertical cliff faces.

As the water is very well sheltered in the fiords, the fresh water pouring into the fiord from the towering mountains doesn’t mix with the salt water – instead creating a layer of fresh water sitting on the salt water. This layer of fresh water on salt water gives rise to a distinctive eco system and changes the colour of the sound as it is stained with tannins from the decaying leaves to become a strong tea colour.

The discovery of the 1,140 metre high Mackinnon Pass in 1888 helped open up Milford Sound’s natural beauty to visitors and today this is the passage of the magnificent and world famous Milford Track. The Milford Track is famously dubbed "the finest walk in the world" one of New Zealand’s “great walks”. The exit from the Homer Tunnel is a truly awesome sight to behold – a commanding glacier-cut U-shaped valley awaits at the end of the tunnel still partway up the mountain.

Unfortunately there is only limited accommodation at Milford Sound itself – so if you are looking to stay here you will need to book in advance. Most visitors stay in Te Anau (a one a half hour drive) or Queenstown (a three and a half hour drive) – both of these resort towns are nestled on large pristine lakes surrounded by towering mountains with awe-inspiring views.

Take a moment to send a Fiordland related E-Postcard to your friends.

 

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Featured
 
Mainstay New Zealand Hotels

Mainstay NZ Hotels

Large collection of independent hotels.

Choice Hotels

Choice Hotels

Holiday packages for any occasion.

Hawkdun Rise

Hawkdun Rise

Boutique vineyard-stay near the town of Alexandra.