The grand views in Milford Sound are so vast and all-encompassing that the phone in your hand will never seem so small. Our corner of the world, which features so many extraordinary sights, has a unique way of grounding us and reminding us to look up, take a breath, and take a break from our digital lives.
For those choosing to dedicate their time in Milford Sound to be present, you’ll be glad to know that phone coverage in Fiordland National Park can be a little patchy, giving you the extra boost you need to choose nature over screen-time.
Here are the five best things to do in Milford Sound for a refreshing digital detox!
1. Let the river be your soundtrack at Milford Sound Lodge
With a riverside chalet at Milford Sound Lodge you relax and unwind with the gentle bubbling of the Cleddau River or read a new favourite book in the shadow of the mountain range.
Milford Lodge is the only accommodation in Milford Sound, allowing a unique overnight experience nestled amongst the rainforest canopy, towering peaks, and winding rivers that pepper the fiord. If you’re wanting to find a closer connection to the flora and fauna for a more forest-like soundtrack, consider a campervan for a truly off-grid night at the Rainforest Campervan Park. We recommend a minimum 2-3 nights in Milford Sound to allow you enough time to relax, unwind, and see as much as possible.
2. Discover the walking tracks of Milford Sound
Being active in the outdoors and exploring the backcountry by foot to pass the time is part of Kiwi history. There are many tracks in Milford Sound, from short walks to full-day hikes, that can make you feel like you’re walking back through time to an untouched world where glaciers crept down to the valleys and shaped the landscape.
Milford Foreshore Walk
A short loop walk with stunning views of Mitre Peak and the surrounding mountains. This is also where you’ll find the famous Milford Sound Swing – the perfect place to be present and take in your surroundings. After crossing a bridge and hitting a fork in the trail, look for a clearing that leads to a small sandy area; here you’ll find the swing. At high tide the water can rise to the bushline, so either time your walk correctly be prepared for soggy shoes!
Key Summit Track
If you only have the time or energy to sample the Routeburn Track, the Key Summit Track is a short half-day walk (three hours) that features a must-see highlight of the longer multi-day Great Walk track.
The trail hikes through beautiful bush to begin and then break treeline to reveal wide open, exposed ridges and plenty of tussock. Look down into the Hollyford Valley and Lake Marian Bowl with four recognisable mountains above; the Alisa and Darren Mountains, Mount Christina, and Mount Crosscut.
Lake Marian Track
On your way out of Milford Sound back to Te Anau, take the Lake Marian Track. You will work up a sweat reaching the alpine lake after two hours of challenging hiking, but thankfully the lake is the perfect swimming spot in summer! Although, be prepared for a dip that is extra chilly, even in the hottest months of the year; Lake Marian is fed by a catchment that includes several permanent snowfields further up the valley.
3. Get soaked by glacier water on a cruise
There is nothing more grounding than being engulfed with mist from a glacial waterfall. Stirling Falls is one of two permanent waterfalls in Milford Sound, with other small falls appearing and morphing during high rainfall. The Southern Discoveries Nature Cruise takes you closer to the waterfall than you thought possible; standing on the bow of the cruise boat as it nestles into the spray and looking up at the onslaught of water is something you’ll never forget.
Be sure to bring waterproof clothing or purchase a poncho at the cruise terminal in Milford Sound. From dolphins, penguins, seals, and birds, there’s plenty of wildlife to keep you entertained on a cruise around Milford Sound.
Kayaking in Milford Sound is a whole new way to see the fiord. With the water close enough to touch, this is an adventurous and exciting option for exploring. The Piopiotahi Marine Reserve stretches throughout Milford Sound and is home to some spectacular wildlife that you may get to see up close in your kayak.
Even if you’re not planning on using your phone or valuables during your digital detox, you are still able to keep them close while kayaking by placing them in the dry bag provided.
The best places to stargaze are further away from big city lights and civilisation, so it’s no wonder that stargazing in the remote Milford Sound is some of the best night sky scenes you can find.
Milford Lodge is the only place to stay in Milford Sound and all other major sources of light shut down at night so there is very little light pollution in the area. This makes Milford Sound one of the best places to stargaze near Queenstown and Te Anau.
Photo taken by William Patino Photography