Choosing a Milford Sound tour

20 September 2019

Going on a Milford Sound cruise is a must do in New Zealand, but knowing what Milford Sound tour to choose can be a tricky decision! With a few different companies operating in the area as well as a large range of boat cruises and other experiences to choose from, it is hard to know what’s the best Milford Sound cruise for you.

Before you book in, it’s important to be aware of some things to ensure you have the best experience possible. Here are some points to consider and know before choosing your Milford Sound tour.


How experienced is your tour provider?

For most, a trip to Milford Sound is a once in a lifetime experience, so you’ll want to make sure you’re in good hands no matter what type of experience you choose. Some of the most important things to look into before deciding on a tour company are:

How long have they been around?

Not all tour providers are as experienced as the next. In fact, some companies have been operating in Milford Sound for many decades and know the area like the back of their hand. Being around and knowing Milford both past and present is important for understanding the history of Milford, its evolution, and what makes it extraordinary today!

Do they know their stuff?

When you join a tour, the commentary is one of the most important parts. It’s one thing to just look at the beautiful fiord, but it’s another to fully understand what you’re looking at. Whether you’re out on the water on a cruise or a kayak, on a coach ride along the road to Milford, or up in the air; learning about Milford from your guide is an important part of having a memorable experience. 

Are their trips well-thought out?

The most experienced tour operators know how to plan the most enjoyable trips. From seeing the best places, spotting the rarest wildlife, and making the most of your time – an experienced tour operator will make it all happen! Choose a company that offers a variety of carefully planned trips and tours, which brings us to our next point…


Look into the best Milford Sound cruise packages available

There’s something in Milford Sound for everyone and how enjoyable your trip is, is closely related to the experience you choose. Of course, you’ll want to jump on a Milford boat cruise, but pairing it with another type of experience is even better! 

Going for a package experience is the best way to really explore Milford in-depth. Some of the best experiences offered in Milford Sound are:

Milford Sound Coach & Cruise day trip with return flight

A coach ride to get to Milford Sound, a cruise out in the fiord, and then a scenic flight home makes this the ultimate Milford experience. Why? Well, you’ll get to enjoy Milford from all angles; land, sea, and air.

If visiting Milford is something on your bucket list and a place you can’t wait to visit then thisexperience is definitely the best choice. You’ll get the traditional cruise experience, but by adding the flight and coach ride you’ll also see Milford in ways most people don’t. There are no other tours as thorough and varied out there.

Milford Sound Cruise & Kayak 

This one is for the adventurer. Not only do you explore Milford on a cruise, but you get up close and personal to nature on a kayak too! 

Our cruise and kayak experience starts with your choice of cruise that’ll drop you off in Harrison Cove (an area which can only be reached by boat). You’ll kayak around this secluded cove taking in the true scale of Milford’s cliffs and waterfalls. After kayaking, you can head 10 metres under the water’s surface and check out some of Milford’s sea life at the Milford Sound Underwater Observatory.

Our kayaking tour is also suited for families and beginners. Harrison Cove is secluded and calm making it a leisurely paddle perfect for all fitness levels. Our automated lift lowers your kayak into the water with you already in it making it nice and easy for you to get started! 

Milford Sound Cruise & Underwater Observatory 

Ever wondered what lies beneath the water’s surface in Milford? Well at the Milford Sound Underwater Observatory you can see for yourself. Descend 10 metres down a spiral staircase under the water. In our specially designed viewing chamber, you’ll have the opportunity to see the rare Milford black coral and other colourful sea creatures.

The only way to get to the Milford Sound Underwater Observatory is on a cruise. You can book a cruise package that includes a stop here allowing you to see Milford from both above and below the water with options to add lunch.

What kind of Milford Sound cruise do you want to go on?

Child-friendly

Not all cruises in Milford Sound are made for families. Choosing a shorter cruise if you have small children is a great idea as Milford boat cruises tend to vary in length.

Our Scenic Cruise is up to one hour and 45 minutes long and is aboard our biggest boat! There is plenty of room for kids to explore as well as a place to buy food and drinks. The many tables inside make for an easy place to base your family for the cruise while enjoying the views and commentary on our large, stable catamaran. 

If the kids want some fun, they can even join the captain up in the wheelhouse!

Up close and personal with nature

Milford Sound has some unique wildlife. We’re talking penguins (some of the smallest and rarest in the world), dolphins, whales, seals, and native birds! On a cruise, you’ll have the chance to see these guys, but it isn’t always easy. 

Wildlife in Milford can be tricky to spot and that’s why you need expert help. On both our Nature Cruise and Encounter Nature Cruise we have a nature guide providing live commentary. Not only does your guide know heaps about the flora and fauna of Milford, but they also know where to find these sneaky and sometimes shy animals. 

Smaller boats (like the monohull that services our Encounter Nature Cruise) are also perfect for getting up close to the cliffs and waterfalls. We get so close that you can get soaked underneath Stirling Falls or catch a glass of freshwater directly from Fairy Falls.

Comfortable and relaxing

Is your ideal Milford experience enjoying views from a comfortable seat with a drink in hand? Well, we don’t blame you – that sounds wonderful! Make it a reality and choose a cruise that can give you just that!

Imagine some of the most beautiful scenery passing outside your window as you listen to your guide’s commentary. You have a cup of coffee, juice, or even wine on the table where you are relaxing inside a large, stable catamaran. Go for a stroll to the top deck if you choose or enjoy a delicious buffet lunch. All of this is possible on our Nature Cruise – perfect if you just want to chill out!

What areas of Milford Sound will you spend time in?

Milford Sound is huge, and trust us when we say this, there are some spots you will definitely want to see with your own eyes! Be sure to choose a tour that explores some of the most amazing places in Milford Sound such as:

  • Seal Rock – Chances are you will spot a few New Zealand fur seals here just swimming around or sunbathing on rocks.
  • Harrison Cove – A calm bay ideal for kayaking with towering cliff faces in every direction.
  • Fairy Falls – This waterfall is famous for creating incredible rainbows in its spray.
  • Stirling Falls – The second tallest waterfall in Milford Sound at an impressive 155 metres high.
  • Milford Sound Underwater Observatory – Where you can see for yourself what’s under the water’s surface in Milford. 

Come on a cruise with Southern Discoveries! As the original tour operator in Milford Sound, we have the experience, knowledge, and passion to show you around one of the most amazing places in the world!

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