Gateway to Fiordland: Exploring Milford Sound

Milford Sound is regarded as one of the top destinations in the world, so while planning our South Island road trip, we didn’t think twice about booking a cruise on this popular fiord. We embarked aboard the Milford Mariner, operated by our hosts Real Journeys, on a spectacular trip across this remarkable fiord, surrounded by towering peaks, stunning waterfalls and the opportunity to see wildlife, truly a must do New Zealand experience.

Shaped by ancient glaciers over hundreds of thousands of years, Milford Sound has a rugged beauty stretching for 16km in length and opening out into the Tasman Sea. Our cruise with Real Journeys took us on a two-hour journey, passing impressive rock faces and right up to the magnificent waterfalls all around the fiord.

The route to Milford Sound alone is worth experiencing, with epic mountain roads, sweeping vistas, mirror like lakes and incredible forests, allow a few extra hours to stop along the way and take it all in.

On the way to Milford Sound from Queenstown
Kea on the road to Milford Sound

There are several stunning view points and hiking trails to enjoy, and keep an eye out for the Kea, a cheeky bird who loves the rubber on your car!

View of Milford Sound


Milford Mariner Real Journeys Milford Sound New Zealand



Milford Mariner Real Journeys Milford Sound


We boarded the Milford Mariner for the 2h 15 minute journey along the fjord. The ship is also used for overnight stays on Milford Sound. Find out more about the overnight cruise here

Waterfalls in Milford Sound
Looking out over Milford Sound
Milford Sound scenic cruise
Milford Sound scenic view
Milford Sound Waterfalls South Island
Milford Sound Waterfalls NZ

When it rains, hundreds of small waterfalls make their way down the steep cliffs. Apart from these temporary ones, there are 2 permanent falls, Lady Bowen and Stirling Falls. Lady Bowen Falls is the highest at 162m.

Milford Sound waterfalls scenic cruise
Milford Sound Day Trip New Zealand
Real Journeys Milford Sound
Scenic nature cruise Milford Sound


Milford Sound Waterfalls New Zealand



Milford Sound Waterfalls


Milford Sound scenic cruise New Zealand

The ships venture as close as possible to the Stirling Falls, so make sure you have a waterproof camera and rain jacket with you!

Milford Sound nature cruise Real Journeys
Nature Cruise on Milford Sound Real Journeys
Milford Sound scenic cruise South Island

If you’re lucky, you’ll see some wildlife throughout Milford Sound. We encountered a pod of dolphins, fur seals, and one lonely penguin.

Milford Sound Day Trip
On the ship in Milford Sound
We were invited on the nature cruise by Real Journeys, however all opinions are our own and you will always read our genuine thoughts and experiences.




Hi! I'm a Belgian travel blogger currently living in Vancouver, Canada after living in the UK for 7 years. I have a keen interest in responsible travel, volunteering and archaeology and I'm always on the lookout for new adventures around the world!

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12 Responses

  1. I only just heard about Milford Sound 3 or so years ago, but it’s been on my to-see list ever since. Your photos are just outstanding. How exciting that you were able to see so much wildlife, too. 🙂 I can’t wait to make it to New Zealand!

  2. Amazing landscapes and even better photography! It’s amazing to be surrounded by huge cliffs, rolling waterfalls and wildlife!

  3. Really enjoyed your photo easy of Milford Sound. I visited. A couple of years back and loved it. You’re photos really leave me wanting to go back!

  4. Focusing on environmental sustainability and key luxury standards, Fiordland Lodge is ‘gateway to the fiords’ and the perfect base for your Fiordland experience. On the edge of almost 1.2 million hectares of mountain, lake, fiord and rainforest environment the Lodge is perched on a hill nestled on the edge of lake Te Anau, with a spectacular backdrop of Mt Luxmore and the Murchison mountains. Fiordland Lodge’s open architecture reflects the vastness of the Fiordland National Park, high ceilings, full trunk pillars and a massive river stone fireplace provide a warm spacious environment with a sense of solidity and style.

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