You will find Milford Sound quietly tucked away in the corner of the South Island of New Zealand. Rich in nature and diverse culture, some say there’s nowhere quite like it on Earth and we totally agree. The sun was still sleeping when we left Te Anau, it was dark, and we were en route deep into Fiordland. Kayak check in at 8am warranted a 6am wakeup call as the drive to Deep Water Basin takes around 2 hours. The sun started to rise as we passed the Eglington Valley, showing us the mighty mountain walls leading the way.
We arrived at the Go Orange Kayak Base and received our gear. It was cold so the sight of thermals and a fleece was very much appreciated. When changed our guide, Logan took us down to the water’s edge where we met our kayaks. After an extensive safety brief where we learnt how to paddle, how to release our spray skirts in case of a capsize and how to raft up in case we needed to sail back to shore together, we were good to go.
Logan pushed us into the water for a practice paddle around Deep Water Basin, we found our jam and off we went. Seeing Milford Sound from a cruise sure makes you feel small but sitting water level, underneath giant mountains is a different story. It’s a surreal experience paddling in silence out toward the Sound as the sun started to rise behind the mountains, just you and your fellow kayakers surrounded by majestic Fiords.
Logan expertly guided us past the boat terminal to the base of Lady Bowen Falls, we felt the spray of the waterfall on our faces as the wake of the departing boats gently rocked our kayak. It wasn’t until we passed another group of keen adventurers that we realized how small we actually were paddling around.
As we listened to Logan’s insightful information about the Sounds and its rich history we were joined by a visitor. One of the resident New Zealand Fur Seals was having his breakfast around 50m away from us. We watched him dive and slap his fish on the water, playing with his food before diving for more. It was so awesome to watch.
We quickly realized that to get back to the base we would have to cross the Fiord, right under the nose of Mitre Peak. Now, it doesn’t look far but as soon as we set out into the open ocean and into the cruise highway my heart started pumping. We battled an onshore wind and the wake from departing boats, paddling harder and faster than we had before to reach the shelter of the mountain side. Feeling a little less panicked now, we followed Logan in convoy back to Deep Water Basin, after stopping for plenty of photographs we rafted up for one last time, and exited the water. Kayaking Milford Sound was an experience beyond compare, an intimate journey into the unknown. We were blessed with excellent conditions this day, but they claim there is never a bad weather day in Milford Sound, even for a place that receives the most rainfall than anywhere else in the country.
Our adventure didn’t stop there, we continued our Milford Sound exploration on board the brand-new Milford Haven boat, cruising out to the Tasman Sea for two hours. We nosed under waterfalls, got up close and personal to Seal Rock and received a complimentary shower from resident Stirling Falls. The cruise was epic, the boat was beautiful and the outward facing seats on the upper deck were a massive bonus. We indulged in classic Kiwi Fish & Chips, Empanada’s and freshly made Barista Coffee. Go Orange sure know how to treat us.
For the ultimate Milford Sound experience book your very own Kayak + Cruise adventure here.