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If you’re at the beginning of your New Zealand travel journey, we know the options for hikes, epic viewpoints, activities and the gamble for good weather can feel overwhelming. We’re quietly confident that a day trip to Fiordland National Park is high on everyone’s list, so if your first consideration is which season is the best to visit Milford Sound we’ve got the answers!

Milford Sound is a must-visit location all year round, however there can be minor differences in the weather from Winter to Summer and all months in between. Here’s an overview of what to expect when visiting Milford Sound in Summer, Winter, Autumn, or Spring.

Summer / December – February

Weather: Summer in New Zealand is a magic blur of swimming, sun-seeking, and scenic adventures. If you’re already planning a summer holiday in Queenstown, February is your best chance for drier weather (as dry as one of the wettest places on earth can be). You can ensure the relaxing summer feeling continues throughout the day opting for transport to also be sorted for you.

Temperatures: between 16-22°C

Ideal activities: Warm summer temperatures make a kayaking adventure in Milford Sound extremely appealing. Exploring one of the most famous fjords in the world and possibly getting up close to wildlife is an immersive adventure not to be missed during summer. This season also has the benefit of long daylight hours that allow you to make the most of your day exploring, making an overnight stay in Milford Sound or remote camping trip the perfect way to extend your exploration of the area.

Remember to pack:

  • Sunblock – UPF 50+ to combat the New Zealand sun
  • Hat that covers your neck
  • Plenty of water in a reusable bottle
  • Insect repellent

See a comprehensive list of what to pack for Milford Sound

Autumn / March – May

Weather: Visiting Milford Sound just as the seasons tick over to Autumn gives you the best of both worlds if you’re looking for mild temperatures but less crowds; Summer’s enviable weather still hangs around but many summer visitors disperse. Historically, some of the most rainfall in Milford Sound takes place in May but this means higher chance of rainbows and waterfall-covered ledges.

Temperatures: 10-18°C

Ideal activities and perks: As waterfalls of all sizes swell with rainfall around May, it’s best to combine your Milford Sound cruise with a coach for transport so you’re able to let your eyes roam around the cliffs when on Milford Road instead of needing to focus on the drive. Clear some space on your camera roll just for the return journey!

Here’s a great benefit for Otago locals; these months contain most of the year’s public holidays and long weekends so you can head further off-grid to Milford Sound without chewing into your annual leave.

Remember to pack:

  • Rain Jacket
  • Drybag for your phone or camera
  • Warm layers if the temperatures drop

See a comprehensive list of what to pack for Milford Sound.

Winter / June – August

Weather: Visiting Milford Sound in winter is still completely worth it. The temperatures can drop to officially chilly, however that also means you’ll be treated to the epic views of white capped peaks and dispersed patches of snow. Winter in the Queenstown area also has some of the most stable and dry weather, meaning that if you bring the warm layers and catch some good weather, a winter trip to Milford Sound may be the best day ever.

Temperatures: Believe it or not, winter days in Milford Sound can be quite mild and comfortable if you layer up with temperatures ranging from 5-10°C during the day. A good windbreaker will go a long way!

Ideal activities: When the air is chilly, choose to rug up on a Southern Discoveries Discover More Cruise where you can enjoy a cosy lunch inside the cabin but still head out to sightsee on the outside decks. Combine this cruise option with our comfortable coach transport to avoid any icy driving conditions; leave it to the professional drivers to minimise worries on your holiday.

Wildlife: The precious Fiordland Crested Penguin’s breeding season is between July and November, meaning you have more chance of seeing them hanging out on the rocks if you take a Milford cruise during the winter months. Even though seals inhabit Milford Sound year round, they do love to bask in the sunlight. Winter’s crisp sunny weather gives you a higher chance of seeing them sunbathing on the rocky shores.

Spring / September – November

Weather: Visiting Milford Sound in early spring might still treat you to a few snowy views at higher elevations with the bonus of higher temperatures during the day. Late spring and into early summer has a higher chance of rain which can be a good thing! More rain also means more waterfalls to see throughout your journey; hundreds of temporary waterfalls begin to decorate the cliffs after rainfall making the visual wonder of Milford Sound even more memorable.

Temperatures: 10-18°C

Ideal activities and perks: Spring has some of the quieter months for visitors at Milford Sound which can be a good opportunity to get out and do it all without the hassle of full bookings or a weekend of crowds. Popular activities to take advantage of include the Discover More Cruise to the Underwater Observatory and kayaking Milford Sound if you can see a warm day on the forecast.

Wildlife: Following on from winter, the Fiordland Crested Penguin’s breeding season continues into November so you still have a chance of seeing these very rare birds in their natural habitat. Keep your eyes peeled for their black and white feathers with a bright pop of yellow on their ‘eyebrows’.

There is a vast and unique range of other wildlife that lives in Milford Sound. You’re likely to be treated to Bottlenose Dolphin sightings year round and native birds like Kea will be roaming around to pester you! Discover more about the wildlife you may encounter on your visit to Fiordland National Park.

Whatever seasonal perk you’re looking for, Milford Sound is an absolute must-do for any traveller and you can book your holiday with confidence knowing that a visit to Fiordland National Park in any season will be a trip to remember.


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