Milford Sound is best explored on the water, of course. That’s why we offer you the best boat in the sound for your adventure. The duration of the cruise is two hours and below is a selection of sights you will see while cruising this epic place.
When exiting the terminal, Mitre Peak will be right in front of you, Milford Sounds most famous attraction and one of the most photographed mountains in New Zealand. The U-shaped valley to the left is Sinbad Gully, a significant site for New Zealand conservation. An area to help the native Kakapo bird, previously believed to be extinct, thrive and rehabilitate away from pests.
You may notice the water in the sound is an inky black colour. This is due to a combination of darkened freshwater and salty seawater sitting together. During the many rainfalls that happen in the area, water drains from the lush forests that surround Milford washing a tannin into the fiord which stains the water the colour of a strong tea. This then blocks the light and making it uniquely ideal for deep-sea life to thrive here.
During the cruise, you will see a handful of Milford’s permanent waterfalls. Fairy Falls and Bridal veil falls drop directly into the sound and during periods of heavy rainfall, hundreds of temporary falls appear. Stirling Falls is famous for its power, height and waterfall showers. The skipper will get you up close and personal to this waterfall, if you’re out the front, beware, you will get wet.
Stirling falls is the second tallest permanent waterfall at a towering 155 meters high, three times the height of Niagara Falls, the 1300m mountain behind however displaces this incredible height. It was discovered by captain Stirling who chose to name the find after himself. In Maori, the falls are called Wai Manu meaning ‘cloud on the water’ and you can see why. The spray from the cascading water can be felt from meters away.
Bowen Falls will likely be the first waterfall you see when you arrive in Milford Sound and is the highest at 161 meters. Bowen Falls is named after Lady Diamantina Bowen who was the wife of the fifth Governor of New Zealand. Not only breathtakingly beautiful, without it Milford Sound couldn’t operate. It is the sole source of power and water for the Milford Sound terminal and village
Keep an eye out on the left-hand side of the fiord for the famous Seal Rock, this is where the resident fur seals like to hang out, it’s one of the few places in the Fiord where the fur seals can climb up out of the water. Most of the banks in the Fiord are vertical, covered in dense bush or running water. The rock is drenched in Sunshine and has a height advantage of protection from predators.
If you are really lucky our resident Dolphins may join you for some bow wave fun. There are more than 60 Bottlenose Dolphins living in the area, they grow up to 3 meters long and weigh up to 300 kilograms. You may also get a visit from the Dusky Dolphins too. You may also see an infrequent visitor if you are really lucky. Depending on migration patterns, humpback and other Whale species have been spotted by cruise passengers in the Fiord.
Fiordland crested penguins are a rare sight in Milford Sound however you are likely to see them during the breeding season (July-November) If you do spot them, get excited, they are very rare and special. Did you know they are the rarest of New Zealand’s mainland penguins?
The Kea is a native New Zealand Bird, known as the only true alpine parrot in the world and only found on the South Island of NZ. The Kea is a large parrot with mainly olive-green feathers and a beautiful fiery red and orange underside. You are likely to see these guys hanging around the Milford Road, especially around Monkey Creek or the Homer Tunnel.
Other New Zealand birds including the Takahe, Kakapo, Mohua(yellowhead) and Kea. The Takahe and kakapo are both critically endangered and you are very unlikely to see them, they are however currently staging a rehabilitation in Sinbad Gully, next to Mitre Peak.
During your cruise, you will be surrounded by Fiordland National Parks pure beauty. Be sure to take full advantage of the 360-degree viewing deck onboard the Milford Haven, charge your cameras, pack your adventuring spirit.
#GoBeyond with us in Milford Sound