Milford Sound

Milford Sound

Perhaps the star of the Fjordland National Park is Milford Sound. It is one of the 14 fjords in the park, and is the most accessible, which translates to more crowds.

Milford Sound is actually a misnomer. Sounds are valleys shaped out of river flows, whereas fjords are carved out by glaciers. Both are then backfilled by seawater. The bottoms of sounds are V-shaped, while those of fjords are U-shaped. This U-shaped topography allows boats to get very close to the fjord walls as we will experience during our tour.

The drive from Te Anau to Milford Sound takes about two hours, with awe inspiring scenery along the way. Rain was forecasted for the day, and I was a bit bummed that we wouldn’t cruise along the fjords on a sunny day. I would later be proven wrong with my expectations.

With time to spare, we made a few stops along the way…

View at the Eglington Valley
At Mirror Lake

Plus a quick stroll through Lake Gunn nature walk.

Felled Red Beech tree covered in moss and lichen

The lengthy travel time between Te Anau and Milford Sound isn’t necessarily due to the actual distance between the two. Rather, it’s related to the winding roads as well as the numerous one-lane sections.

One such section is the 0.75-mile Homer tunnel under the Darran Mountains.

Past the tunnel, you get a glimpse of what Milford Sound has to offer.

Waterfalls cascading down steep rock face.
Our boat
Photos simply don’t do justice to the place.

We soon realized that the best time to visit the fjords is on a rainy day (at least for waterfall lovers). We were surrounded by waterfalls, both permanent and temporary ones. Some temporary waterfalls had only started flowing a couple of hours prior to our sailing.

Like these
The U-shaped bottom of the fjords allowed the boat to get us right up to the waterfalls
Looking back from the Tasman Sea

Absolutely stunning place, and a must visit when in New Zealand. Piece of advice – best to book the early morning tours, as the numerous Queenstown tour buses offload their passengers for the noon tours.

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