Milford Sound is the most famous and accessible of the grand, glacier-carved fiords along the South Island of New Zealand’s lower western coast. Described by Rudyard Kipling as the ‘eighth wonder of the world’ the fiord’s sides rise vertically from the dark waters, mountain peaks scrape the sky and waterfalls cascade down sheer cliffs.
The fiords support the world’s biggest population of black coral trees – about seven million colonies, some of them up to 200 years old. They are home also to brachiopods; prehistoric clam-like animals that have been bypassed by evolution, remaining unchanged for over 300 million years. How crazy’s that!?
Bottlenose dolphins (aihe), New Zealand fur seals (kekeno), Fiordland crested penguins (tawaki) and little blue penguins (kororā) are resident in the fiords. If you are a lover of penguins (and who isn’t after the blue bird chip ads) then October and November are the months for you to come paddling with us. You will see Fiordland Crested Penguins on most days, sometimes several both in the water and on the rocky shoreline. Our sea kayaks offer an unobtrusive way to observe them going about their daily business of feeding, washing and preening themselves, just magic!
RAIN & WATERFALLS
With a mean annual rainfall of 6,813 mm on 182 days a year, a high level even for the West Coast, Milford Sound is known as the wettest inhabited place in New Zealand and one of the wettest in the world. The rainfall creates dozens of temporary waterfalls (as well as a number of major, more permanent ones listed below) cascading down the cliff faces, some reaching a thousand meters in length.
Water is what makes Fiordland a lush region of lakes, rivers, streams, cataracts, waterfalls and fiords. So be prepared to enjoy some rain during your trip and bring sensible clothing for cool or wet weather regardless of the time of year.
Fiordland is infamous for sandflies. The end of the Milford Track, where trampers board the ferry to Milford Sound, isn’t called Sandfly Point by mistake! BUT to avoid bug country would be to miss out on the best of New Zealand so it’s important that you are comfortable and prepared before you arrive. Click here to learn some tips and tricks on how to deal with these pesky little buggers, along with the best ways to dress in sandfly country.
THE MILFORD ROAD
One of the most awesome and frequently overlooked features of Milford Sound is the journey to get here. The Milford Road passes through some of our country’s most stunning unspoiled mountain scenery and rainforest-carpeted valleys.
Transit New Zealand looks after the road, which provides the only road access to Milford Sound. It is therefore essential for Transit to keep this road safe and open all year round. In winter season (May to September) snow, ice and risk of avalanches make safe driving critical. Here are some driving tips for a safe and enjoyable trip on The Milford Road.
If the thought of driving on icy roads, a mountain pass or fitting chains scares the heck out of you or you just feel like a break from driving, add our Day Safari guided tour to your Milford kayaking adventure. This includes roundtrip transport from your accommodation in Te Anau.
WHERE TO STAY
Nestled beneath the towering peaks of the Darran Mountains, the Milford Sound Lodge provides a fantastic base to experience Rosco’s Milford Kayaking.