The alluring Milford Sound. Imagine cruising down misty fjords, with endless waterfalls sweeping down the Jurassic cliffs on either side of you. What if I told you that you could witness these scenes by jumping on a quick bus to Milford Sound from Queenstown?
What is the Best Time to Visit The Fjordlands?
Milford Sound is usually on the list of most visiting New Zealand’s South Island. However, is there really a best time to go to Milford Sound? With a mean annual rainfall of nearly 6500 mm (252 inches), it’s recognised as the wettest inhabited place in New Zealand. It is also one of the wettest in the whole world!
Most people that visit Milford Sound from Queenstown experience at least a little bit of rain. In saying that, a few showers on your cruise down the Sound will excite those looking to witness the endless flow of temporary waterfalls.
While it is quite wet all year round, the hottest months are in Summer, from January to February. During this time, temperatures can get up to 27 degrees celsius. The cooler Winter months drop as low as 15 degrees celsius.
Due to the consistent rainfall and moderate heat, there isn’t a best time to visit Milford Sound. It totally depends on what you want to see. Personally, I prefer the Spring months for better hiking opportunities on the South Island.
How to Get to Milford Sound
Those with a van or vehicle can drive directly to the Sound by themselves. However, you will need to drive around Lake Te Anau and through National Parklands. The drive is nearly 250 KM and you will definitely want to stop for several photo opportunities.
You will pass glaciers, waterfalls, lookouts and epic hiking opportunities. This part of New Zealand feels like it’s straight off the silver screen. It will take roughly 4 hours of driving to reach Milford Sound from Queenstown, so if you’re looking to see it on a day trip, you better leave early.
If you are driving, a better option is to simply take your time through this region, taking advantage of camping opportunities along the way.
A Day Trip to Milford Sound From Queenstown by Bus
Those without the luxury of their own transport can purchase a Milford Sound package from Queenstown. There’s no shortage of tours operators, most offering similar packages that often take the same boat ferry at the Sound. The main difference will be the bus that takes you through the National Park. However, the stops along the Fjordlands tend to vary also.
One of the best value packages that I was able to find in Queenstown is run by Jucy. Their Sunriser Tour seems to be the best as it leaves early, leaving a more uncrowded boat and gets you back to Queenstown in time for sunset.
The package offer includes the entire bus journey, a two hour cruise down the Milford Sound and a free lunch. The cost of this option is $125 NZD. Again, this is the cheapest package I could find, with alternatives costing between $160-$190.
The bus also stops at some scenic locations in the Fjordland National Park to stretch the legs and see the epic sights the region has to offer.
A Boat Journey Through Milford Sound
Undoubtedly the best views of the Milford Sound can be seen from the deck of a boat. If you’re taking the Jucy package, this is included. However, if you have your own transport to Milford Sound from Queenstown, you can also book a ferry once you reach the terminal.
A separate boat ticket will cost between $40-55 depending on the company. However, if you are hiring a Jucy vehicle, it’s best to book through them as it will only cost you $22.50 per person. You can book this cruise here.
It’s best to get there as early as possible for the least crowded boats.
As you cruise down the Milford Sound, you will get to witness some epic surging waterfalls, wild seals sunbathing on the rocks and the famous Mitre Peak sticking through the cloud cover.