Fiordland National ParkMilford Sound

A Milford Sound Cruise with Go Orange

Milford Sound is one of New Zealand’s most beautiful places, and a great way to see it is on a short cruise. You’ll journey out through the sound (technically it’s a fjord) past waterfalls, snow-capped mountains and the iconic Mitre Peak. Basically, you’ll be surrounded by world-class scenery during a relaxing two-hour boat ride — what could be better!? We’ve done two Milford Sound cruises, one a few years ago and one on our most recent trip. We teamed up with Go Orange on our recent pre-Christmas holiday to Milford Sound — this is what we saw.

A Milford Sound Cruise with Go Orange

The route for most Milford Sound cruises is the same, although some boats go a little further towards the ocean than others. Still though, whatever boat you choose won’t have too much of a bearing on what you see. But not all boats are created equal. We heard that Go Orange had a cafe / cool upper deck and we were impressed with both those things. The upper viewing deck, complete with fake grass and plenty of places to sit, is a cosy place to hang out while cruising through Milford Sound. The cafe was also good. Gia ordered a coffee which she enjoyed and the cafe style seating and atmosphere inside was a nice touch. You can also get craft beer and food (we were on the 9 am cruise so we didn’t partake in that).

The Scenery

The real highlight of a Milford Sound cruise is of course the scenery. Sheer cliffs, jagged peaks and towering waterfalls abound in this wild environment. It’s regarded as one of New Zealand’s most beautiful areas and I’d definitely agree with that. There are so many photo opportunities and it’s a good idea to walk around the boat a bit to get some different angles. One of the highlights is when they back the boat right up close to Stirling Falls — be careful though as your camera could get wet. If you’re lucky you might see some wildlife at Milford Sound, including dolphins, seals and penguins. We saw seals on both occasions, but dolphins are proving elusive. We did the cruise on a nice sunny day but apparently it’s even better when it’s raining — we’ll have to do it again sometime to see that!

Before / After the Cruise

The foreshore area at Milford Sound is worth exploring if you have time. You can get down to the edge of the water and see the scenery reflecting in the shallow water or you can head up to the viewpoint (just above the information centre / cafe) for a nice elevated view.

Hikes in the Area

If you’re driving to Milford Sound yourself it’s a good idea to leave early and do a hike before or after visiting Milford Sound. Even better, spend a night or two in the area and discover more of what’s on offer. My favourite hikes include Key Summit, Gertrude Saddle and Lake Marian — do them all if you can!

Getting to Milford Sound

Milford Sound is a common day trip destination from Queenstown and countless tour buses ply the winding route. We did it that way the first time and it was a good day trip. The bus stops at a few places along the way, including the Mirror Lakes, but if you want to do the hikes you’ll need to drive yourself.

The Details

The Go Orange Milford Sound cruise will set you back between $49 – $79 and most other cruise options are within a similar price range. Make sure to arrive 20 minutes before the cruise (don’t leave it too late as the terminal is a 5-10 minute walk from the main car park). If you don’t have your own transport the bus + cruise day trip is a good option. It might seem like a long time sitting in a bus (it takes around 4 hours of straight driving to get from Queenstown to Milford Sound) but there is heaps to see along the way and you can get out and stretch your legs from time to time, so it isn’t exactly boring.

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We were hosted by Go Orange. All thoughts and opinions are our own.

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Jon Algie

A travel blogger from New Zealand who has just returned home after 6 years abroad. Join me as I see as much of the South Island as I can.
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