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FAQs

Our experience and destination pages should provide you with all the information you need to make a decision or plan your trip.

In case you haven't found the information you were looking for, we've put together some of the most common questions our customers ask about our trips. If you need more specific answers, please contact us directly.

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What is the difference between Milford and Doubtful Sounds?

Milford Sound at the mountainous north end of Fiordland National Park is the classic fiord - a deep water inlet between steep sided high mountains.  Milford Sound is a middle-sized fiord at around 13 kms in length and it is famous for its dramatic scenery, especially Mitre Peak.  This fiord is the most accessible of Fiordland National Park’s 14 fiords and it can be reached by road (coach or car) or by flight connections from Queenstown.

Doubtful Sound is located in the heart of Fiordland National Park where the mountains are still very impressive but not as high as Milford Sound.  Doubtful Sound is three times longer and  has a sea surface area roughly ten times larger than Milford Sound.  Its three arms are Hall, Crooked and First Arm.  It is famous for its wilderness scenery and wildlife sightings.  To travel to Doubtful Sound visitors first take a launch trip across Lake Manapouri and coach over Wilmot Pass.

Visitors with enough time choose to experience both fiords as they have different characters.

What is the difference between a sound and a fiord?

Throughout Fiordland the fiords are officially mapped as sounds.  Strictly speaking, they should be called fiords.

A fiord is a glaciated valley - typically narrow and steep-sided - that has been flooded by the sea after the glacier’s retreat.  A sound, on the other hand, is a river valley flooded by the sea following a rise in sea levels or depression of the land, or a combination of both.

What weather can I expect in Fiordland?

Fiordland’s weather is what gives the region its unique character. Rainfall is what makes Fiordland a land of lakes, rivers, streams, waterfalls and fiords. Visitors should always be prepared to enjoy some rainfall during their stay. It is recommended to bring sensible clothing for cool and wet weather to fully appreciate your stay.

The temperatures you can expect in the different seasons are as follows: 

  • Summer (December-February) 19-23 Celsius / 66 - 73 Fahrenheit 
  • Autumn (March-May) 8-18 Celsius / 46 - 64 Fahrenheit
  • Winter (June-August) 5-9 Celsius / 41 - 48 Fahrenheit
  • Spring (September-November) 10-19 Celsius / 50 - 66 Fahrenheit

Do you pick up from local accommodation in Queenstown or Te Anau?

If you have booked a coach and cruise to Milford Sound or Doubtful Sound our coaches pick up from most accommodation in Queenstown and Te Anau.  When booking either from our website or directly with our staff, please let us know if you want to be picked up from your accommodation or from our Visitor Centre.

Is it worth going to Milford/Doubtful Sounds on a wet day?

Many say you have not seen Fiordland unless you have seen it in the rain.  When it rains in Fiordland the landscape is dramatic - rock faces stream with waterfalls, mist hangs around the tops of the mountains and rivers and streams rage.  From a dry comfortable vantage point on board the coach or vessel this landscape is spectacular.

How likely are we to see wildlife in Fiordland?

While we cannot guarantee you will see wildlife, sightings of fur seals are reasonably common in both Doubtful and Milford Sounds.  A pod of bottlenose dolphins resides in Doubtful Sound so you have a good chance of seeing these fascinating mammals, and in Milford Sound dolphins are occasional visitors.  In both sounds the rare Fiordland crested penguin can at times be observed.

How long does it take to travel to Milford?

If you are travelling from Queenstown it will take around 5hrs to reach Milford.  Te Anau to Milford is around 2hrs 20mins.  This timing allows for stops along the way for photos or short walks to places of interest.  If driving make sure you fill your vehicle with petrol in Te Anau before travelling to Milford (there are no petrol stations at Milford Sound or en route).  For more information refer to our Driving Times webpage.

At Milford where do you park and go to check in?

There is FREE car parking at Milford Sound.  Please allow up to 45 minutes to park your vehicle and transfer to the Milford Sound Visitor Terminal, where you check in for your cruise.  Check in is required 20 minutes prior to departure.

Is there luggage storage at Milford Sound?

There is limited luggage storage available at the Milford Sound Visitor Terminal.

What happens if the weather changes and we can’t fly out from Milford?

Your travel agent or the outlet where you purchased your Milford Sound trip will refund the flight component of your ticket.  You will return to Queenstown by coach.

How long to get to Manapouri

From Queenstown to Manapouri by car or coach takes around 2 hrs 45 mins and from Te Anau around 30 minutes.  For more information refer to our Driving Times webpage.

What is the weather like in Queenstown?

Queenstown has a climate with four distinct seasons however, being located in an alpine environment means the weather can be changeable. A guide for the temperatures you can expect is as follows: summer (December-February) 19-29 Celsius,autumn (March-May) 15-25 Celsius, winter (June-August) 5-10 Celsius, spring (September-November) 9-15 Celsius.

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