Visiting Milford Sound is undoubtedly the thing to do when you are visiting the South Island. It is one of the most remote areas of the world and in NZ. The sheer remoteness makes this place one of the most special attractions in the world. Milford Sound or also known as Piopiotahi is located in the southwest of the south island. Formed by a process of glaciation over millions of years. The village at the end of the fiord is also known as Milford Sound. Milford Sound is accessible via State Highway 94 or Milford Road. It takes at least 2 to 3 hours from Te Anau, the nearest town and at least 5 hours or 572 km from Queenstown. Milford Sound may not be accessible during winter and snow chains are required. It is commonly known as the 8th wonder of the world. One of the best things to see the Sound is via a sightseeing cruise. Besides this, the journey there is an experience by itself too. This is hands down one of the best travel experiences I had on the road. I was excited to undertake the Milford Sound Boutique Small Boat Cruise with Cruise Milford NZ. Thank you for inviting me here. One of the most unique selling points about them is the small group size. They cap the capacity at half of the boat’s capabilities and you get a more boutique size. Do check them out here.


Booking Process

Besides booking direct, you can also check out Bookme, they have deals from time to time. This is a good place to compare the rates with booking directly. Prices start from 129NZD. When booking, you can check all the requirements for doing a tour like this. Besides doing just cruises, they also have other options. You can opt for a tour that starts from Te Anau or Queenstown if you do not feel comfortable with self-driving. Do note that the tour might not be possible in winter and you might also need snow chains to drive on certain periods. Do remember to bring a raincoat on the tour. The cruise usually starts from late morning till early afternoon. A cruise takes around 1 hr and 45 mins.


I went for the afternoon cruise and drove there myself since I guess it gives me more flexibility. It is going to be a daunting journey and cater for at least 5 hours each way since you will want to stop around for pictures. Do also note to get a full tank when you are in Te Anau. Do expect to leave early if you opt for a cruise from Queenstown. Most cruise companies leave at 6am or so.


Departure from Queenstown

I departed around 7.30am and by 9.30am I arrived in Te Anau. It was a wet morning and the drive was challenging. Do remember to get a full pump here and if needed snow chains or tires as there are no more services from here on to Milford Sound. Do prepare for more time as you will be stopping multiple times. I got a pump and a coffee in Te Anau before continuing the journey! It is a grey day.


We then start our journey driving up to Milford Sound. There are plenty of stops on the way and at least 12 of them. You can check out this guide from Cruise Milford NZ here. This is where we stopped while on the way. First up on the way will be Te Anau Downs Boat Launch.


Eglinton Valley



Lake Gunn



Hollyford Valley Lookout (Pops View)



How do cup noodles with this view sound? Bring along some and a hot water flask on the way there!


Monkey Creek



Homer Tunnel. As you reach this iconic tunnel, you will hit a major milestone. Milford Sound isn’t too far away when you are here. The tunnel is a one-direction and single-lane tunnel and you will have to wait outside for the lights to be in your favour.



We had some time to spare and stopped by the Milford Sound Lodge which is just about 5 mins away from the cruise terminal and car park. The food here is very good. We enjoyed the pizza.



P.S. They also had free wifi!

Milford Sound Visitor Terminal 

At the end of Milford Sound Road, you will arrive at the Milford Sound Visitor Terminal. Congrats on making the journey. You have finally arrived at your destination. Here comes the bad news, parking used to be free but this is no longer the case anymore. The only free parking is available at Deepwater Basin Road which is about a 30 mins walk away from the cruise terminal.

The other option is paid parking which is nearer to the terminal. From here it is about a 10 mins walk to the terminal. Given that time is precious after our cruise, we decided to just park here. We wanted to get out of Milford Sound as soon as possible and maximise the amount of daylight left since we had a long journey back to Queenstown.


Parking is very easy and you pay by the licence plate. It cost 25 NZD for 5 hours. Do note that they only accept credit cards. From here, simply follow the walkway and you will arrive at the terminal. As you make your way there, you will be wowed by the majestic Milford Sound views.


Mobility parking can be found outside the main Milford Sound Visitor Terminal and is wheelchair accessible.

Arrival & Checking In

You will have to arrive at the cruise terminal 25 minutes before departure for check-in. This is where you will collect the tickets or boarding pass for your cruise. Do note that check-in close 10 minutes before departure. Toilets are readily available here.


Once you enter the terminal or the building, you will be able to see the Cruise Milford NZ desk. Simply provide your booking confirmation to the staff and they will provide you with the tickets or boarding pass. You will also know which dock you are boarding from.


We spent some time around the terminal checking out the place and getting some pictures. It would be nice if they could have some Wi-Fi installed at the terminal and surrounding area since after departing Te Anau, you are not going to get cell reception.



Milford Sound Boutique Small Boat Cruise

I am doing Milford Sound Scenic Small Boat Cruise which takes about 1 hr 45 mins. They will cruise around the area and then head out to the edge of the Tasman Sea before returning. I love the in-depth introduction and commentary throughout from the skipper. This way we will know what we are looking at and the background stories. Let’s start with the boat itself. The boat is much smaller than other cruise companies which allows you to get closer to the edge and sights. Having lesser people onboard also gives you more space and spots for getting the pictures. There is both the lower deck and the upper deck. Both levels come with indoor and outdoor seats. No one stays indoors! Some of the best spots in my opinion are the seats on the upper deck. Both at the front and at the back deck. Seatings are first come first serve and people move around throughout the cruise. Here are some pictures of the boats.




Throughout the cruise, complimentary coffee and tea are provided alongside some cookies. It is so lovely to hold a cup of hot tea while admiring the sights. It is also a good way to warm up those hands.


Do get a raincoat as Milford Sound is one of the wettest parts of the earth and there is this part that always rains as well. I use my gore-tex from SAF and it works perfectly!


Here are some pictures from the cruise. How lovely is this! One good aspect about coming on a rainy day is that Milford Sound looks even more majestic. You get fuller waterfalls and all also. I am very lucky to catch seals, dolphins and even rainbows on my cruise. You might recognise some scenes here from the Mission Impossible movie too.









Amazing to finally check this World Heritage Site off my list. I do feel that the remoteness of this place and the sheer effort to travel there makes it even more special. I am very lucky to see lots of things on the cruise and enjoy my experience with Cruise Milford NZ! Thank you so much once again for inviting me! Do check them out if you are keen on doing a cruise. You certainly couldn’t miss out on visiting Milford Sound if you are travelling to the South Island. Just keep in mind that it is going to be a super long day if you are travelling to and from Queenstown. Overall I will still recommend self-drive for the flexibility and you don’t have to wait for others. Stops are shorter and you can make more stops.


This was an invited media visit