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Milford vs. Doubtful Kayak

Go Orange Kayak Milford Sound - Prep

Here we are again with one of the biggest debates in the South Island, should we visit Milford Sound or Doubtful Sound. We always like to say both, that way you can score two huge ticks through your bucket list. However, we understand everyone can't visit both Fiords. So, we are doing the hard work for you. You may know that we cruise in both Milford and Doubtful Sound but did you know we also kayak in both?

We have complied a little Milford vs Doubtful for you, hopefully making your kayak adventure an easier one to select.

Milford Sound

  • Why Milford Sound you ask? Well, apart from being the most accessible fiord in Fiordland it is also pretty epic. You will have seen the postcard, trawled through Instagram for Mitre Peak shots and seen everyone flocking to this beautiful corner of the world to cruise. Here are the reasons you should kayak with Go Orange in Milford Sound.
  • You will be on the water for 5 hours during our full-day kayak experience. If you choose to kayak and cruise you will kayak for 3 hours and cruise for 2.
  • Milford Sound is the most dramatic Fiord. It is also the youngest of all the fiords so the mountains are steep and ‘new’ making your photographs epic!
  • There is no cell phone service, no WIFI and no way of communicating with the outside world, so for a whole day, you can switch off and fully immerse yourself in Mother Nature’s goodness.
  • There are two permanent waterfalls in Milford Sound, one of which we will paddle right up to and jump out to grab some photos.
  • Milford Sound is only 2 hours away from Te Anau by road, easy and accessible for those on a self-drive adventure of the South Island.
  • It’s iconic. Milford Sound is breathtaking rain or shine, so we feel a trip down here to kayak is one that should be at the top of everyone's New Zealand bucket list.

Doubtful Sound

  • So Doubtful Sound. The little brother to Milford Sound and sometimes gets overlooked by travellers, but that’s what makes it awesome. It’s quiet, serene and for us and absolute must-do.
  • You will be on the water for 3 hours during our day kayak experience and 6 hours on the water for the Doubtful Sound overnight adventure.
  • Doubtful Sound is way more remote than Milford Sound. Fewer people and boats thank Milford Sound, adding to the real wilderness experience.
  • The mountains here are different to Milford, they are large rolling mountains, so, not as steep but just as epic.
  • There is a resident pod of Bottlenose Dolphins that live in Doubtful Sound. There is no guarantee you will see them but if you do its pretty spectacular.
  • There are three permanent waterfalls in the area we kayak in and when it rains the walls are covered with waterfalls.
  • Deep Cove, our launch site has a hostel mainly used for school groups, a shed and a boat launch, you are pretty much in the middle of nowhere.
  • Getting to Doubtful Sound is a real adventure. Lake Manapouri is only a 20-minute drive from Lake Te Anau, you will then travel by boat across Manapouri and over the Wilmott Pass by bus arriving at Deep Cove to start your kayak experience.

We don't think there is a right or wrong answer to this debate and each Fiord is unique. We hope this has helped you decide where to kayak in Fiordland.

Whatever you choose remember to always #GoBeyond

Grab your kayak experiences here