Stunning Milford Sound needs no introduction – the name conjures images of stunning cliff faces curtained with waterfalls running down sheer cliff faces to meet the deep blue water below. Greenery hangs from the cliffs with precarious precision as mist hangs mysteriously in the air.
This is Milford Sound, a fjord in south west New Zealand, acclaimed as the country’s most famous travel destination and one of the most visited sites in the country. The fjord runs inland from the Tasman Sea for 15 spectacular kilometres, lined the whole way with steep, moss-drenched rock faces. The annual rainfall here is an average of 6813 mm over 182 days, making it the wettest inhabited place in New Zealand – and to spectacular effect: when it rains, the waterfalls multiply indefinitely, with hundreds of temporary falls appearing and disappearing in the blink of an eye. Some fall down 1000 metres of rock face before reaching the water below.
Most people opt to visit Milford from Queenstown, over four hours drive away. These drives pass through beautiful mountain and rainforest landscape before arriving at Milford Sound just before midday. This is the peak time of day for visitors, so if it is possible to avoid it might just be worth the extra effort to see the Sound with less people around. Tours generally include a one- to two-hour boat trip through the sound, bringing visitors right up close to the craggy rock faces. There are also options to do scenic flights above the sound, with spectacular views nearly making it worth paying the exorbitant price most operators charge. Tramping, canoeing, kayaking and diving are also available for those wanting something a little more adventurous.
Milford Sound is definitely on the tourist track – some one million people visit each year, despite the remote location. However there’s very few things that can compare to the feeling of misty waterfalls on your face as you glide across the glassy water – the beauty of the landscape is unsurpassed, and is admired by all who venture here.