Queenstown to Milford Sound – The ultimate scenic day trip

28 June 2018

Milford Sound is arguably one of the most breathtaking places on earth. From its towering cliff faces to its unique wildlife, Milford Sound has earned its nickname as the “8th Wonder of the World.”

For many, a Milford Sound day trip will be the highlight of their holiday in New Zealand. It’s a trip you will  remember for a lifetime. It’s important to make the most out of your visit from Queenstown to Milford Sound. You came all this way, you may as well do it right!

The only way to make the most out of your visit to Milford Sound from Queenstown is to combine all the best ways to travel to, from, and in Milford Sound. A coach ride to Milford Sound, boat cruise in Milford, and then a scenic flight back to Queenstown, in our opinion, is the best experience money can buy. By doing this you’ll experience all Milford Sound and the stunning surrounding landscapes have to offer.

Here’s everything you need to know about the ultimate scenic day trip from Queenstown to Milford Sound!

Coach ride from Queenstown to Milford

There are a few different ways to travel to Milford sound, however, in order to experience this stunning place the best way possible you need to drive. You can either drive yourself in a rental vehicle or campervan, or opt to take a more relaxing guided trip in our coach.

A ride aboard our coach from Queenstown to Milford Sound is all about experiencing the stunning landscapes along the way. By travelling by bus, you’ll be able to sit back and relax in our comfortable glass-roof coach as your local driver takes you on a spectacular journey along the road to Milford, which is an experience in itself.

On our coach ride, you can enjoy the informative and engaging commentary and stretch your legs at some amazing stops along the way. Some of these stops include:

  • Eglinton Valley – This huge glacier carved valley will have you in awe at its sheer size. It’s hard to imagine that once upon a time it was completely covered in ice!
  • Mirror Lakes – These calm lakes perfectly reflect the mountains that surround them. You can walk alongside the lakes on a boardwalk and take a few photos.
  • Monkey Creek – At Monkey Creek your guide will show you the way to the creek where you can taste pure glacier water right from the source and enjoy some of the cleanest water in the world!
  •  Homer Tunnel – The Homer Tunnel is the reason a coach trip to Milford sound is possible. It’s an impressive site to see and learn about on the coach ride.

A coach ride is really a great way to visit some of the less travelled highlights of Fiordland National Park.

Southern Discoveries coach coming down the windy road of the Cleddau Valley after exiting the Homer tunnel

Milford Sound Boat Cruise

The next part of your ultimate day trip is aboard one of our Milford Sound Cruises.

As you arrive in Milford Sound, prepare to be wowed as you get your first glimpse of the famous Mitre Peak. Once you’ve boarded your cruise, make sure to grab a seat on one of the outdoor decks to take in the scenery as you pull out from the harbour.

In the first few minutes of the cruise, our boat hugs the mountains meaning you can truly gauge the sheer size of Milford Sound. Throughout the cruise you’ll also be able to spot the unique range of wildlife that call Milford Sound home, so be sure to have your camera ready!

One of the highlights on our cruises is a shower at Stirling Falls. Get geared up in your raincoat and find a spot on the front of the boat to feel the full force of the 10,000 year old waterfall. Legend says that a glacial facial from Stirling Falls can make you look 10 years younger. (Even if it’s not true, it’s definitely a refreshing experience!)

There are a few different Milford cruises to choose from and pair with your coach ride to Milford as well as your scenic flight back to Queenstown, they are:

Scenic Cruise

Our Scenic Cruise will take you to some of Milford Sound’s most impressive sights. This cruise is on our largest vessel in and offers a 360-degree viewing deck and comfortable indoor lounge. You’ll stay caffeinated and full with an international buffet lunch or breakfast as well as free coffee and a fully licensed bar. Also available on this cruise is commentary in English, Mandarin, Korean and Japanese.

This Scenic Cruise combined with our coach ride and scenic flight costs from $609 for adults and $359 for children. With a scenic helicopter flight, the cost is from $979 for adults and $649 for children.

Nature Cruise  

The Nature Cruise explores Milford Sound’s unique and intriguing natural habitat. On our Nature Cruise, you can wander the upstairs viewing deck while looking out for seals, dolphins, and penguins. We’ll also have an experienced nature guide who is an expert at spotting Milford Sound wildlife so you won’t miss a thing. 

The coach, Nature Cruise and flight tour costs from $609 for adults and $359 for children. With a scenic helicopter flight, the cost is $979 for adults and $649 for children.

Discover More Cruise

Our Discover More Cruise is all about combining one of the two cruise options above with a truly unique experience in Milford Sound – a trip to the Milford Sound Underwater Observatory.

The Milford Underwater Observatory descends 10 meters below the surface to introduce you to Milford Sound’s underwater life. From the viewing area, you can look out at the marine life that lives here including rare Black Coral. Your guide will also give an informative commentary on the unique geology, wildlife, and history of Milford Sound.

This coach, Discover More Cruise and flight tour costs from $609 for adults and $359 with children. With a scenic helicopter flight, the tour costs from $979 for adults and $649 for children. The Coach & Discover More option is only available in summer, 1 October – 30 April.

Cruise and Kayak 

Our cruise and kayak experience is another way to turn an already unforgettable day into an even better one. On our kayaking trips, you’ll venture out into Harrison Cove and explore this ancient fiord. Our guides will take you safely through the fiord while providing interesting facts about the area  and answering any questions you may have.

Kayaking through Milford Sound gets you closer to the action than one of our Milford Sound Cruises – so why not add it on to an already amazing Milford Sound tour!

Our coach, cruise and kayak, flight tour costs from $709 for adults and $449 for children. With scenic helicopter flight, the tour costs $1079 for adults and $739 for children. The Coach, Cruise & kayak option is only available in summer, 1 October – 30 April.

A Scenic Flight from Milford Sound to Queenstown

Since you’ve already conquered the road to Milford on our coach ride, it’s time to change it up and fly back to Queenstown! The journey to Milford Sound is about seeing the landscapes from the ground. However, on the way back, a scenic flight is the best way to see it from a whole new perspective!

A flight is not only a much quicker way to get from Milford Sound to Queenstown, but it also takes you on a completely different route. We fly directly over the Southern Alps instead of around them, so you can spot the many alpine lakes, mountains peaks, glaciers and deep valleys on the journey back to Queenstown.

From the air, your pilot will point out and fly by the most spectacular places allowing you to see it all while still being able to relax.

We have two Milford Sound flights available on either a fixed-wing plane or helicopter. Both options allow you to take in amazing views with their own unique style and experience.

Taking in the views over the Southern Alps on your return scenic flight to Queenstown

If you’ve come all the way to New Zealand, or even Queenstown for that matter, a visit to Milford Sound is a must! And while you’re at it, you might as well make it the best possible day trip by doing this ultimate Queenstown to Milford Sound trip itinerary complete with a coach ride, cruise, and flight!

Book in for your trip of a lifetime in Milford Sound with Southern Discoveries. You won’t be disappointed!

Facebook Instagram Trip Advisor You Tube