Thousands of people visit Milford Sound ever year, coming for its spectacular scenery including its hundreds of waterfalls! However, it can sometimes surprise visitors during their visit to see some of Milford Sound’s locals; a rather unique selection of wildlife.
From above and below the water you have a chance to see the wildlife that has called Milford Sound home long before tourists started visiting. Here is some information about a few of the most unique wildlife you may spot while visiting Milford Sound, as well as the best way to see them!
Milford sound is home to not one, but three species of dolphins – Dusky dolphins, bottlenose dolphins and hector dolphins. The most common of the three species is the bottlenose dolphin and it is estimated that 60 call the area around Milford Sound home. These dolphins can grow up to 3 meters long and can weigh a whopping 300 kilograms!
On our Milford Sound Scenic Cruise, it’s not uncommon to see these impressive creatures cruising the waves of our boats!
There are two types of penguins who are regular visitors to Milford Sound, the little blue penguin and the Fiordland Crested Penguin. The Little Blue Penguin is the Penguin your most likely to spot in Milford Sound. These small birds are common in the area and are actually strong in number right across New Zealand.
The Fiordland crested penguin, however, is the third rarest penguin in the world. Due to their remoteness and breeding on inaccessible headlands, it’s rare to spot them, but if you do, be sure to have your camera ready! The best time to see them is between July and November when they are nesting in Milford Sound.
New Zealand fur seals are very common animals to encounter during your visit to Milford Sound. These seals were once almost extinct, but thanks to a ban on hunting and responsible tourism, seal numbers in Milford Sound and the south of New Zealand have been on the rise!
In one particular spot, Seal Rock, it’s common to see the seals sunbathing on the rocks or swimming in the water. Seal Rock is visited on all our Milford Sound cruises; make sure you get a spot outside so you can see these playful guys for yourself!
Keas are the animal you are most likely to encounter during a visit to Milford Sound. In fact, it’s harder to visit Milford Sound and not see one than the latter. These large birds are as curious as they are cunning. With no fear of humans, these birds will walk right by you without any care. Keas have become renowned for their mischievous personalities and chewing on parts of cars. Although they might seem hungry, please don’t feed them as human food is not good for them.
Kea’s are part of the parrot family and are the only alpine parrots in the world. They are monogamous and find lifelong partners. They are green in colour and are considered the most intelligent parrot in the world. It’s safe to say an encounter with a cute and mischievous kea is almost a sure thing.
The Best Way to See Wildlife in Milford Sound
From the shores of Milford Sound, you can spot some of the wildlife mentioned above, however, it’s not as common. The best place to see the widest variety of wildlife is from out on the water.
Milford Sound Cruise
A Milford Sound boat cruise is a great way to not only learn about the wildlife but also see some up close! We have three different cruises that all offer the chance to see some wildlife. However, for the best chances of getting up and close to seals, penguins and dolphins, our Encounter Nature Cruise is a great choice.
From a kayak, you’re as close as you can get to the water. Encountering the animals mentioned above in a kayak is one of the most surreal ways to see them. Our guided kayaking tours are the perfect way to get out on the water. Choosing our Cruise & Kayak combo will only increase your chances of seeing some wildlife!
Milford Sound Underwater Observatory
For a new perspective, you need to check out our Milford Underwater Observatory. The Milford Underwater Observatory takes you down 10 metres under the surface of the water. From the windows, you have the opportunity to see some animals that don’t leave the depths of the ocean.