insights from the ultimate cruising team



It’s the stuff of postcards – New Zealand’s iconic Milford Sound with Mitre Peak front and centre. You’ll see it in all the promotional literature and little wonder, it truly is a sight to behold. This beautiful part of New Zealand, surrounded by lush native flora and fauna, is well worth the visit. In fact, you can’t really say you’ve seen New Zealand until you’ve visited this very spot.


Today we’ve got 8 facts about New Zealand’s Milford Sound and what makes it so special:

    • It’s not a sound. It’s actually a fiord. The difference between the two is that a sound is formed when a river valley gets flooded by the sea, whereas Milford Sound was actually carved out of glacial erosion…making it a fiord, not a sound.
    • The Maori name for Milford Sound is “Piopiotahi” which means ‘one single piopio’ referring to a now-extinct bird.
    • The famous “Milford Track” was once used by Maori as they trekked to the sea to fish, hunt and collect pounamu (greenstone).

    • The lush greenness of the Milford Sound is due to it being one of the wettest places in the world. An average of 182 days of rainfall each year keeps the waterfalls flowing and the rainforest thriving. You just might want to take an umbrella with you when you visit!
    • Rocks, plants and animals tracing back some 80 million years have earned Milford Sound and Fiordland its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
    • Close to 1 million visitors come to Milford Sound each year.

  • There is no cell phone coverage in Milford Sound – all the better to enjoy the scenery! The 120 or so people that live in Milford Sound village are used to it!
  • You won’t see turquoise water here – instead the water is a dark, inky black. Water draining from the forests washes a tannin into the water, making it look like a strong cup of tea! The fresh water sits on top of the ocean water, blocking out the light.

Now there are many ways to see Milford Sound, from hiking in on the Milford Track to bus trips or helicopter rides in. But we think the best way to see it is by cruising, of course! There are several cruises visiting Milford Sound each year but our favourite has got to be the combination of the Milford Sound with the Dusky Sound with New Zealand’s Subantarctic Islands. While you’re likely to see seals, bottlenose dolphins, penguins and several native birds in Milford Sound, it’s just the curtain-raiser to what awaits in the Subantarctic Islands. If you don’t know much about the Subantarctic Islands you can see our blog articles on the Subantarctic Islands here.

Alternatively you can request a call from one of our Ultimate Cruising experts by clicking here and they will be happy to have a chat about the Milford Sound/Subantarctic cruise or other options that visit Milford Sound and other New Zealand ports.


Image Credits

Mitre peak & green stone