Chasing waterfalls in Milford Sound

7 November 2018

If you love waterfalls, then Milford Sound is the perfect destination for you! ‘Chasing waterfalls’ in Milford Sound is easy because there are just so many! Only a few of the waterfalls in Milford are permanent and you’ll see them at any time of year in any weather. However, many of the smaller ones only come out during or just after it rains, so really the best time to visit Milford Sound is on a wet day or just after. All these waterfalls are better known to the locals as ‘liquid sunshine’. 

Endless waterfalls on a rainy day in Milford.

What are the main waterfalls in Milford Sound?

On a rainy day, there are literally hundreds of little waterfalls in Milford Sound! But, out of all of these waterfalls, there are a few that are especially brilliant and worth checking out.

Bowen Falls

Bowen Falls will likely be the first waterfall you see when you arrive in Milford Sound and is the highest at 161 metres. Bowen Falls is named after lady Diamantina Bowen who was the wife of the fifth Governor of New Zealand. Bowen Falls is one of the most dramatic waterfalls in Milford and can be viewed from the foreshore but you will get an even better view as you cruise past on a Milford Sound Cruise. Bowen Falls is particularly special as it provides hydro-electric power and water supply for all of Milford Sound.

Taking in the views of Bowen Falls as your cruise past.

Stirling Falls

Stirling Falls is the second tallest waterfall  at a towering 155 metres high. This waterfall drapes off a steep cliff face highlighting the unique rock formations of Milford Sound. On a rainy day, Stirling Falls can be quite powerful, on a sunny day, there will be less water, but you will still be able to see it as it is the second of only two permanent waterfalls in Milford Sound. To really feel the full force of Stirling falls and to get a famous Milford ‘glacial facial’ make sure you grab your raincoat and stand on the front of our Nature Cruise.

Getting a glacial facial under Stirling Falls.

Fairy Falls

Smaller but beautiful, Fairy Falls makes for the perfect photo opportunity. Fairy Falls can only be reached from out on the water by boat. Fairy Falls is a semi-permanent waterfall meaning it takes a couple of days of dry weather for it to dry up completely. With Milford Sound getting over 250 days of rain a year, it is not very common for Fairy Falls to dry up and you likely get to check it out on your next trip to Milford! Our Encounter Nature Cruise likes to get right under it so we can fill up glasses with pure glacial water for our guests to taste.

Filling up glasses with pure glacial water under Fairy Falls.

Four Sisters Falls

After there has been some rain, one cliff face showcases a four-part line of waterfalls -the Four Sisters! The Four Sisters are waterfalls that are all parallel to each other. As small waterfalls, the Four Sisters require a decent amount of rain to be able to be seen but after a lot of rainfall they can be pretty impressive.

The four sisters looking very powerful after a lot of heavy rain.

The Chasm

The Chasm is special because it is actually along the road to Milford. Near the Holmer Tunnel, you will see signs on the edge of the road for the car park for the Chasm. Follow a short trial for about 20 minutes and you will be greeted with the mighty Chasm waterfall! The Chasm is also a permanent waterfall that only gets more powerful with heavy rainfall.

How to Best View the Waterfalls

If you really want to go chasing waterfalls, you’ll have to do a few different activities to get the best views of them all!

Go walking

Some of the waterfalls can be viewed just by walking along the foreshore at Milford Sound. Bowen Falls is huge and visible right from the shore! The Chasm can only be reached by walking.

A walk along the foreshore is a great way to take in the views.

Take a boat cruise

For a better and more thorough chance to see waterfalls join one of our Milford cruises to get right up close to the waterfalls as well as view them from afar. There are many great photo opportunities from the edge of the boat. And the best part? Even if it is raining you can take in the views from inside the boat or underneath the sheltered deck.

Getting close to waterfalls in Milford Sound

Go kayaking

For those looking to explore Milford Sound waterfalls a little bit more then going kayaking is the perfect option! In a kayak, you are able to get right up close to the waterfalls. On our kayaking guided tour you will learn all about Milford Sound, and if you’re lucky, you might have some visitors come and greet you in your kayak in the form of seals or dolphins!

For the best combination, join our Milford Sound Cruise and Kayak!

The truth is though, that no matter how you choose to explore the waterfalls in Milford Sound you’ll be guaranteed to be impressed. The power of the falls, their beauty, and the sheer number of them will have you in awe!

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