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Why a boat cruise is the best way to see Milford Sound

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Milford Sound

Why a boat cruise is the best way to see Milford Sound

A visit to Milford Sound will without a doubt be a highlight of your trip to New Zealand. The amazing scenery is unlike anywhere else in the world and makes it one of the most beautiful places to visit in New Zealand!

However, the issue many travellers have with exploring Milford Sound is figuring out the best way to do so. Do you drive there yourself and then go for a walk on the shore? Do you walk the Milford Track? Should you see it by boat, a flight, or a kayak? With so many different ways to check out Milford Sound available, it can be hard to know what is best for you!

While there are several different ways you can choose from to explore Milford Sound, a cruise is easily the best choice for many different reasons – and in this blog, we are going to tell you exactly why that is!

Ways to Travel in Milford Sound

There are a few different ways you can explore Milford Sound. Each option allows you to experience a different side of Milford so it is important you choose the best one! Here are some of the options you have to consider:

Milford Sound Walks

Many people travel around Milford on foot and explore via the walking tracks. The Milford Track is one of New Zealand’s most popular multi-day hikes and offers some unique and incredible views throughout Fiordland National Park. Be prepared to hike and camp for 3-4 days to complete this 54-kilometre long track. It also must be booked several months in advance, so get a move on if you’re keen to do this!

There are also a few short hikes around the Milford foreshore that can be done in under half an hour. The Milford Foreshore Walk and the Milford Sound Lookout Track are both quick and easy hikes that you could even do before or after a boat cruise!

Milford Sound Flight

A scenic flight is another exciting way to view Milford Sound. The great thing about a scenic flight is that it can double as a mode of transport to Milford Sound from Queenstown. Instead of taking the bus, you can take a scenic flight one way which is a much quicker and unique experience.

In fact, we offer packages that include a bus ride to Milford Sound, a boat cruise once in Milford Sound, and then a scenic flight back! This option is the perfect way to get the most out of your day trip to Milford.

Kayaking in Milford Sound

For many travellers, kayaking in Milford Sound is their top way to explore. Kayaking allows you to get up close to waterfalls and wildlife all while taking in the scenery. From a kayak, the sheer size of Milford Sound is very apparent and impressive.
It’s possible to go on a kayak tour of Milford Sound as well as boat cruise with our cruise and kayak package. This is the ideal option for those who don’t want to miss out on either experience!

A Milford Sound Cruise

Out of all of the ways to explore Milford Sound, a boat cruise is the most popular. It allows you to see the most of Milford Sound all while still being affordable and fun! You can combine a boat cruise with a walk, flight, or kayak as well which makes it very convenient. If you’re still not convinced a boat cruise is right for you, here are some more reasons…

Why is a Milford Sound boat cruise the best way to travel?

Best views

Getting out on the water allows you to see so much more of Milford Sound than you can from land. Sure, from the foreshore Milford Sound is spectacular, but from out on the water you have an ever-changing vantage point!

Milford Sound is a long and narrow fiord stretching 16 kilometres. A boat cruise takes you from the shore all the way out to the Tasman Sea which allows you to see the entirety of Milford Sound!

As you cruise along, you’ll stop at waterfalls and viewpoints. But that isn’t all – on our Nature Cruise or our Encounter Nature Cruise you will actually cruise right underneath Stirling Falls and have the opportunity to drink pure glacial water straight from the falls! From out on the water you also have a much better chance of seeing some of the wildlife of Milford Sound. Seals, dolphins, penguins, and a variety of sea birds are some of the wildlife you might spot along the way.

Get an expert tour

A cruise is a great way to explore Milford Sound with an expert by your side! All of our Milford cruises have a knowledgeable guide or captain onboard to keep you intrigued from beginning to end and make sure that you get the most out of your Milford Sound tour.

Our guides offer information about the geography of Milford Sound, the flora and fauna, how Milford was formed, the discovery of Milford Sound, its importance to the Maori people, and tons of other facts. This insider info is a highlight for many of our travellers.

Aside from just learning about Milford, our expert guides are great at spotting wildlife that most people miss! They know all the best places where the animals hang out including Seal Rock (where you are almost guaranteed to catch a seal sunbathing!)

Budget and family-friendly

Milford Sound is one of the most beautiful places in New Zealand, so your budget shouldn’t prevent you from visiting – besides, there are always ways to make the trip of a lifetime fit into the budget!

If you’re travelling with your family, a cruise in Milford is the perfect day trip. Not only are family priced packages available, but the cruise is family-friendly and sure to be an activity everybody will enjoy. Kids can explore the boat, spot wildlife, and even get showered under a waterfall while other family members are free to relax inside with a cup of coffee. Our safety briefing, as well as our experienced staff, will ensure the whole family stays safe for the duration of the cruise.

Best of both worlds: adventurous and relaxing

For the adventurous traveller, a cruise can be a fun and exciting way to experience Milford Sound. On the boat, you can head outside on the deck to get the best views. It’s a great way to explore Milford Sound and as we mentioned before, you can always add on a kayak or flight home to the trip to boost the adventure rating even more!

While a Milford Sound boat cruise is exciting for the adventurer, it’s also ideal for someone who wants to just sit back and take in the views from the comfort of our lower cabin. Comfortable seating with surrounding windows allows anyone to relax inside, nice and warm, while seeing the beauty of Milford first-hand. This option is also great for people who would love to explore but aren’t as mobile as others.

Explore rain or shine

Milford Sound is absolutely stunning rain or shine. In the sunshine, you can sit outside and enjoy the warm sun. Sometimes, the sun creates rainbows on the waterfalls as you cruise by, and you will likely catch some Milford wildlife enjoying the sun along the way too.

But the truth is, it rains more often than not in Milford Sound. Luckily, a Milford Sound boat cruise is just as amazing (if not better) in the rain! The rain creates hundreds of tiny waterfalls from the cliff edges everywhere you look. Milford in the rain is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. (And don’t worry, we’ll provide rain jackets!)

No matter the weather, the boat cruise is always great. If you don’t consider yourself a water baby, the inside area and covered decks help you stay dry, all while still seeing the beauty that is Milford Sound.

Explore Milford Sound by boat with Southern Discoveries

At Southern Discoveries, we offer a variety of different boat cruises to suit everyone! From small group nature cruises to large scenic cruises, we have it all! Our cruises run periodically throughout the day all year round.

Cruises are 1.5 – 3 hours long depending on the type of cruise. There is both an outdoor area and an indoor seating area with air conditioning and heating to ensure our passengers are comfortable all year round. Tea and coffee are complimentary, and if you want anything else we also have a drink and snack bar on board. On particular cruises, you have the option to add on breakfast or lunch – or you can bring it yourself.

When you arrive for your Milford Sound boat cruise, make sure to bring sunscreen and bug repellent; the sun can be harsh and sandflies are everywhere (they may be tiny, but they pack a punch!). But other than that, don’t worry too much about what to bring as we have raincoats on board as well as anything else you might need.

Just be sure to come with your camera and be ready for a great time!


The truth is, no matter how you choose to explore Milford, it’s guaranteed to be a memorable experience. Milford Sound is a unique sight unlike anywhere else in the world that you truly need to experience for yourself.

Book a Milford Sound cruise online today. For any other Milford Sound enquiries contact us today! We have a large selection of activities, tours, and combos to choose from and will be more than happy to help you find the right one for you.

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