Our Milford Sound cruise took us to one of New Zealand’s best known areas of outstanding natural beauty. Which, on an island chock-full of outstanding natural beauty, takes some doing. Milford Sound is famed for its wilderness location, but this is a little misleading. As the crow flies, it is relatively close to Queenstown (a little over 75km) but the winding road there has to circumnavigate a mountain range which means the drive is actually closer to five hours. And that’s on a good day – the route is also troubled by rock slides which can close the road unexpectedly.
We were incredibly lucky with the weather on our trip; Milford Sound is one of the wettest places on earth. Don’t let that put you off making a trip though – waterfalls feed into the sound all around the edge and apparently a little rain makes them more spectacular and numerous!
One of the nicest surprises about Milford Sound was the wildlife we saw. As well as cute seals snoozing in the sunshine, we also saw little penguins hopping into the water from the rocks at the side. We got chatting to another girl who had taken an overnight cruise and woken to find whales and dolphins playing at the sea mouth!
Milford Sound, quite understandably, attracts huge numbers of visitors each year and – due to restrictions the long day trip involves – most of these tend to arrive over a relatively short timeframe. I was quite surprised by the number of boats all cruising around Milford Sound at the same time, but in fairness they kept a sensible distance from each other and it didn’t interfere too much with our experience or photo taking! People desperate to avoid the crowds can take an overnight cruise, or make the drive down themselves to catch the first boats of the day; the day trippers tend to rock up a bit after midday.
We paid $140 for our Milford Sound trip; tickets are available in Queenstown and leave early (around 7:30am) and return at around 7pm.