Milford Sound, New Zealand
Milford Sound lies in the heart of Fiordland National Park in the southwest corner of New Zealand’s South Island. Along with Doubtful Sound, Dusky Sound, and several others, this is a major draw for the dramatic beauty, wildlife, and outdoor activities. Cruise ships anchor in the sound and passengers disembark into small boats to explore by water or to go ashore for hikes.
What We Love
The Road to the Sound: One of the great drives in New Zealand is between Milford Sound and Queenstown, a lakeside town a few hours inland. The road twists around — and sometimes through — the mountains with scenic vista stops before coming into open farmland.
Surrounding Sounds: If your cruise ship is small and not in a hurry, then you might also see one or more of the sounds to the south. This is almost a definite if your itinerary takes you around the very bottom of the South Island.
Best Known For
The View: You will be surrounded by steep granite cliffs dripping with waterfalls, fringing mountain peaks, and lush rainforest vegetation. Your guides will also be quick to point out the dolphins, seals, and penguins.
Hiking: The Milford Track one of the most famous hikes in the world in an area that excels in its hiking options. While the full route requires overnight camping gear, there are short easy stretches to sample if you have only a day.
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Who It's Best For
Nature Lovers of All Abilities: The laid-back can view the dramatic surroundings from the ship, while the more active can set off in Zodiacs or kayaks, or go for a hike.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
The Weather: The region receives quite a lot of rain, hence the lush rainforest vegetation. When the sun comes out, the entire scene will be sparkling. But occasional high winds might prevent entry into the narrow fjord and going ashore in small craft.
Theodore W. Scull is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has written several books on crossings.