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Your complete guide to kayaking in Milford Sound

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Day Trips
Southern Discoveries
Te Anau
Milford Sound
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Surrounded by ancient rainforests and cliffs formed by glaciers, kayaking Milford Sound is a peaceful and rejuvenating paddle through time; the rhythm of your strokes, the sound of water lapping against your kayak, the scent of the salt air.

In a stark difference to regular boat tours, kayaks glide quietly through the water, allowing you to experience the fiord’s tranquil beauty up close. The famous landscape makes you feel tiny in comparison, which is both humbling and uniquely exhilarating.

On our kayak tour of Milford Sound, your trained kayak guide will take you through Harrison Cove, a sheltered area of water on the north side of the fiord, with the famous views of Mitre Peak never far away.

Heard enough? Book your kayak tour in Milford Sound here.

Keen to know more before you take to the water? This is your complete guide to kayaking Milford Sound with Southern Discoveries.

Getting there

This tour doesn’t provide transportation, but that’s the beauty of it; you have the freedom to make the road journey at your own pace before also getting to explore by water. Ensure you leave enough time to explore the lookouts on your way and still arrive 20 minutes before your trip’s start time.


What is the best time to kayak Milford Sound?

While Milford Sound can be explored any month of the year with each season offering a unique experience, it’s important to remember that you’re more exposed to the elements during a kayak trip.

Choosing to paddle in late Spring and Summer months may give you a better chance of sunshine and warm days, whereas winter months will likely see you packing your wet weather gear for a fun and exciting first-hand look at one of the wettest places in the world!

Is this tour suitable for beginner kayakers?

Yes! Learning something new or challenging your comfort zone doesn’t have to be scary.

Our kayaks are built for an easy, relaxing paddle for all skill levels and double kayaks are the best way to paddle for those looking for reassurance or just an epic shared experience.

To start the trip, we use a kayak lift to lower you into the water to relieve any stress of an unstable launch. This also makes our kayaking tour a largely accessible activity for most family members and abilities.

Not a confident swimmer? Regardless of your swimming abilities, your life jacket and trained guide will be there to ensure your safety.

What views can I expect while kayaking Milford Sound?

Tucked into a corner of the weaving hills, Harrison Cove has the best of both worlds; mountainous surroundings that collide with tropical views of the Tasman Sea. However, we can’t guarantee the water temperatures will be as tropical to the touch! In the summer sun the water turns translucent and beckoning and in moody weather the landscape becomes even more dramatic to paddle through.

Kayak tours can easily be combined with any of our boat cruises to give your arms a break while you soak in the sights. If you want to continue the adventurous spirit post-kayak, the Nature Cruise will get you up close and personal with the huge Stirling Falls, so don’t pack away your wet gear just yet.

What wildlife might I see?

Milford Sound is home to many different groups of marine life that may make an appearance at the surface to meet you. These animals include Dusky and Bottlenose dolphins, New Zealand fur seals/kekeno, Little Blue Penguins/kororā and the rare Fiordland Crested Penguins/tawaki. While kayaking, you might be lucky enough to spot these special species in their natural environment and observe them from water level. 

All kayaking trips also include a one hour tour in the Underwater Observatory. After plunging 64 steps below the water level, you can view a whole new world of starfish, sponges, snake stars and the famous black coral while learning about the history and geology of Milford Sound from a marine guide.

Black Coral is usually a deep-sea coral but can be seen in Milford Sound living at just 10 metres below the surface. This is because of a phenomenon known as ‘deep-water emergence’ that occurs where freshwater meets seawater, allowing deep-sea species to survive in much shallower environments. This is only one of the incredible and unique features of the Piopiotahi Marine Reserve.

Can I bring my phone to take photos?

We want you to relive your kayaking adventure over and over again with any images and videos you capture during the tour. You can bring along your camera or smartphone and borrow our dry bags to help protect your personal items from getting wet. It is best to leave any valuables locked securely in your car.

Please remember it is up to you to ensure its proper use to protect your gear as we can’t take responsibility for any damaged equipment.


Kayak tour packing list – less is more

  • Warm layers
  • Comfortable clothes, preferably quick dry
  • Rain jacket
  • Warm hat in colder months
  • Sun hat in warmer months
  • Sunglasses, Sunblock
  • Dry change of clothes


For those that crave a more intimate connection with nature and an active approach to sightseeing, the serenity and intimacy offered by a kayak experience in Milford Sound is unbeatable. Book your kayak tour now and become part of the scenery.

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