Milford Sound, located on the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island, is one of the most spectacular fjords I’ve ever seen. Justifiably used as the decor for one of the scenes in the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy, Milford Sound’s calm, dark blue waters contrast sharply with the towering snow-capped mountains that hug its shores.
In its middle, the 1,623 meter Mitre Peak rises dramatically while stunning waterfalls tumble down from the sheer rock cliffs, which reach a height of 1,200 meters in some places, and add to the breathtaking beauty of the fjord.
Take a cruise
The majesty of this place can best be appreciated by taking a cruise – there are various options including an overnight cruise. This is one of the top visitor attractions on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island so if you’re visiting Milford Sound (map) on your own, go in the mornings or later in the afternoon to avoid the hordes of tourist buses. The boats take visitors across the fjord, alongside the awe-inspiring rock face of Mitre Peak and past several waterfalls. If you’re lucky, you might spot dolphins, seals and penguins along the way. If you’re standing outside on the deck – something I recommend you do – make sure you have a raincoat on when the boat passes some of the waterfalls – feeling the cold droplets on your face is a glorious experience. As the boat gets closer, the fine mist turns into a blistering cold shower! 🙂
“The Finest Walk in the World”
An alternative method, if you have more time, is to hike along one of the many trails around the fjord. The most famous trail is the ‘Milford Track‘, often called the “finest walk in the world”. The trail winds its way through stunning mountain scenery and the gorgeous temperate rainforests of the Fiordland National Park. Various tour companies in Queenstown offer guided hikes along the Milford Track as a 5-day/4-night package. If you have the time and are physically fit, I seriously recommend this hike. The sight of the imposing snow-capped mountains, massive granite canyons, dark blue lakes and eerie mossy forests is simply enchanting!
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