Fiordland National Park on New Zealand’s South Island is one of those places that stays with you once you’ve experienced it. And has you longing to come back for more.
Untamed, pristine wilderness. It’s simply stunning.
I know. I was here over twenty years ago and out of 40+ countries I’ve been to, to this day it remains as one of my top travel experiences. Ever. Can’t wait to get back.
New Zealand’s largest natural park and a World Heritage site, Fiordland includes Milford, Dusky and Doubtful Sounds. Actually deep fjords, ancient rain forests cling to the mountainsides, waterfalls cascade hundreds of feet down, snow-capped peaks and marine wildlife, wait to greet you from the water. Lakes, valleys, waterfalls and granite peaks by land. Spectacular scenery is an understatement.
Of the three, Milford Sound is the smallest in area, most popular and home to the iconic Mitre Peak. High season can see more people, but you’ll not see the type of crowds like other iconic sites around the world. Doubtful Sound is 3 times longer and 10 times larger than Milford – equally scenic, offering a more intimate experience given the space. Dusky Sound is the most remote - equally stunning but not as easy to get to and usually seen by air or on an ocean cruise.
Best way to take in this soul stirring beauty? There are number of options – the best one is based on you.
On the water
Scenic cruising one or more of the 3 sounds is almost always included on a New Zealand and Australia cruise. Sit back in your lounge chair on the top deck or on your balcony and simply take it all in. The fiords are deep enough allowing ships easy access. You can see in the pictures above and below how tall the peaks are.
Day cruises are also an option. Milford Sound is a perfect choice and the easiest to get to from Queenstown or Te Anau, Day tours are available on Doubtful Sound from Queenstown, though I highly recommend an overnight cruise. More remote, a good bit of drive time is required to get to Doubtful Sound and day tours give you little time to actually cruise the area.
The adventurous can try kayaking Milford or Doubtful Sounds.
In the air
A great way to experience the grandeur of Fiordland from above. Scenic tours by small aircraft or helicopter are available from Queenstown, Te Anau and Milford Sound. Chopper tours may even have you landing in some of the more remote wilderness areas accessed by few.
Fiordland is well known for its hiking treks. In fact 3 of New Zealand’s Great Walks are here – Milford, Routeburn and Kepler, as well as the Hollyford Track. Explore alpine peaks and untouched wilderness on day walks and guided multi-day walks. I highly recommend the guided hikes – experienced guides combined with the comfort of private lodges (a nice bed, warm showers, deliciously prepared meals and logistics) – sweet! And a great way to digitally unplug as well (i.e. no internet).
I visited Milford Sound on a self- drive trip through New Zealand. I stayed in Te Anau, and joined a coach tour from there. If time on the itinerary allows for it, I do recommend staying here (or nearby). It sits on shore of Lake Te Anau, is the gateway to Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound and offers plenty of activities as well, from trout fishing to experiencing glowworms in the Te Anau caves. About 2 hours from Queenstown, you can escape the crowds that Queenstown can have, especially in peak season.
To learn more about trip options, contact me. I am a New Zealand specialist.
I can be reach at 602.540.7338 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Laurie Marschall - Owner and Founder