Things to do in
Fiordland

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Our most recommended things to do in Fiordland

Fiordland National Park: Doubtful Sound Wilderness Cruise

1. Fiordland National Park: Doubtful Sound Wilderness Cruise

Spend a day in the remote wilderness of Doubtful Sound, located in the heart of Fiordland National Park and three times longer than Milford Sound. Self-drive to Manapouri and board a cruise across picturesque Lake Manapouri, followed by a coach trip across Wilmot Pass. Stop en-route to experience the dense Fiordland rainforest. At Deep Cove, board the Patea Explorer, a purpose-built catamaran, for a 2 hour and 45-minute cruise on Doubtful Sound. See waterfalls, rainforest and mountains during the cruise. You might spot the resident pod of bottlenose dolphins, the colony of fur seals at the mouth of the fiord, or even rare Fiordland crested penguins. During the cruise, knowledgeable nature guides will provide informative commentary.  When it rains in Fiordland, the landscape is dramatic - rock faces stream with waterfalls, mist hangs around the tops of the mountains, and rivers and streams rage.  From a dry comfortable vantage point on board the coach or vessel this landscape is spectacular. Always be prepared to enjoy some rainfall during your visit. Many say you have not seen Fiordland unless you have seen it in the rain!

Milford Sound: Cruise, Underwater Observatory, and Lunch

2. Milford Sound: Cruise, Underwater Observatory, and Lunch

Explore the beauty of the fiord on a vessel that’s purpose-built for the best daytime viewing. Set off on a day-trip that includes a delicious lunch, complimentary tea and coffee, and a visit to the Milford Sound Underwater Observatory. Climb aboard a smaller vessel at the Milford Sound Cruise Terminal to discover more of the fiord on an authentic and insightful experience. Get within touching distance of impressive rock walls and waterfalls. Join the skipper in the open wheelhouse and say hello to the native seals basking on the rocks as you pass them by. A knowledgeable local guide will ensure you discover the wildlife, nature, and history of this remarkable sanctuary. Also enjoy a delicious picnic. Visit the Milford Sound Underwater Observatory, New Zealand's only floating underwater observatory for an experience unlike any other. Hidden under the surface in Harrison Cove in the middle of Piopiotahi Marine Reserve, the Observatory enables you to experience a different perspective of the fiord. Descend 64 steps (10-metres) underwater into a large, fully air-conditioned viewing area and peer out through large windows at the deep underwater haven. Unlike an aquarium, the fish are free to come and go; it’s the people who are contained.

From Queenstown: Milford Sound Full-Day Trip by Bus & Boat

3. From Queenstown: Milford Sound Full-Day Trip by Bus & Boat

Take the hassle out of driving to Milford Sound and join a guided coach tour from Queenstown. Sit back, relax and enjoy magnificent scenery and informative commentary. Your experienced local coach driver will show you the best views along the Milford Road and connect you seamlessly with a 2-hour nature cruise. Travel in a spacious coach with USB charging ports. Marvel at the native rainforest, spectacular waterfalls and glacial lakes. Pause briefly in Te Anau before continuing along the spectacular alpine Milford Road. Admire incredible views at Eglinton Valley, Mirror Lakes, Knobbs Flat or Monkey Creek and pose for photos. Be wowed by the glaciar-carved Milford Sound as you approach the visitor terminal. Seize your cruise and lunch passes from the driver who’ll help you find your cruise departure gate.  Climb aboard a purpose-built catamaran for a nature cruise along the fiord’s deep blue waters. Savor a freshly prepared picnic lunch. Marvel at the impressive natural landscape and keep a lookout for native wildlife like dolphins, seals and penguins. Be fascinated by live commentary from your skipper in the open wheelhouse. Get within touching distance of impressive glaciar-carved rock walls and feel the full force of the powerful 15,000-year-old Stirling Falls on your face. Awed and satisfied, rejoin your driver for the scenic return journey to Queenstown. 

Te Anau: Glowworm Caves Guided Tour

4. Te Anau: Glowworm Caves Guided Tour

Experience a mysterious underground world of rushing water before drifting in darkness beneath the luminous shimmer of hundreds of glowworms.  Your trip to the Te Anau Glowworm Caves begins with a cruise to the western shores of Lake Te Anau. At the entry to the caves, view the informative displays and learn about this geological wonder before you head underground. On the tour of the caves, your friendly guide will point out the highlights and share their knowledge of the caves and its history. This underground world is astonishingly beautiful. The cave are 12,000 years old which by geological standards is still very young and they are still being carved out by the force of the river that flows through them. The result is a twisting network of limestone passages filled with sculpted rock, whirlpools and a roaring underground waterfall. Deep inside the caves, beyond the roar of the water, you will be taken by small boat into a silent hidden grotto inhabited by thousands of glowworms, unique to New Zealand. In the subterranean darkness, they produce a glittering display that is nothing short of extraordinary.

Milford Sound Nature Cruise with Optional Lunch

5. Milford Sound Nature Cruise with Optional Lunch

Climb aboard a purpose-built catamaran in Milford Sound Cruise Terminal and set sail across the water to discover the unique wildlife of one of South Island's most picturesque attractions. Enjoy complimentary tea and coffee onboard and pre-purchase a picnic lunch when booking. Journey down the south side of the fjord and out into the Tasman Sea, before returning up the north side of the fjord. Listen to fascinating commentary about the region from your skipper in the open wheelhouse and say hello to the native seals basking on the rocks as you pass them by.  Get within touching distance of impressive rock walls carved by glaciers thousands of years ago. Feel the full force of the powerful 15,000-year-old Stirling Falls. The friendly staff will roam the vessel available to answer your questions on the history, geology, and wildlife of the fiord along the way.

Milford Sound Nature Cruise on Premium Glass-Roof Catamaran

6. Milford Sound Nature Cruise on Premium Glass-Roof Catamaran

Climb aboard 'Gem of the Sound', the newest vessel to cruise in the fiord, for a Milford Sound nature cruise. Capture the best views of the incredible fiord with three-levels of indoor and outdoor seating, unique glass roofs, and large viewing decks. Your friendly crew will welcome you on board and embrace you as one of the family, whilst you marvel at one of the most stunning places on earth. Relax in the comfortable booth seating with stylish decor and ambient lighting. High-definition cameras project outdoor footage live onto TV screens throughout the vessel - so no matter where are, you won't miss a thing. Admire New Zealand fur seals basking on rocks and feel the spray of cascading waterfalls. Look out for playful dolphins and, if you’re lucky, catch a glimpse of the rare and elusive Fiordland Crested Penguin. Travel the length of the fiord and out into the Tasman Sea, to see why Captain Cook failed to discover Milford Sound after charting the Fiordland National Park.

Milford Sound Cruise

7. Milford Sound Cruise

Self-drive through the Fiordland National park to cruise the stunningly iconic Milford Sound. This fiord is the most accessible of Fiordland National Park’s 14 fiords and can be reached by road. Allow 5-6 hours (one-way) driving time from Queenstown and around 3-hours (one-way) from Te Anau.  Check-in at Milford Sound Visitor Terminal then climb aboard a purpose-built vessel for a leisurely, informative, and interactive experience. Admire the towering Mitre Peak rising straight out of the sea. Cruise the fiord, riding near waterfalls and listening to the informative commentary about the region.  Your experienced skippers customize the cruise route on the day depending on the weather and wildlife sightings to ensure you see the best of Milford Sound. Keep a lookout for wildlife, including seals, dolphins and penguins. The vessels have spacious decks, comfortable seating, and large viewing windows.  Sit back and take in the magnificent views of Milford Sound. The landscape is especially dramatic when it rains in Fiordland. Enjoy the spectacular landscape from a dry comfortable vantage point on board the vessel. You are more than welcome to bring your own picnic on board, or you can purchase food and non-alcoholic drinks on board the vessel using cash.

From Queenstown: Milford Sound Full-Day Trip by Plane & Boat

8. From Queenstown: Milford Sound Full-Day Trip by Plane & Boat

Combine a flight and a cruise on Milford Sound on this excursion from Queensland. Take in the area's outstanding natural beauty as you savor the sights from both air and water. Enjoy a pickup and transfer to the air hanger in Queenstown. Listen to informative commentary in English and marvel at the stunning views of lakes, mountains, and waterfalls on the 40-minute flight. Upon landing, transfer to the Milford Sound Boat Terminal. Board in Milford Sound and experience 2 hours onboard an intimate vessel with English commentary by your skipper, and complimentary tea and coffee. Cruise to the mouth of the Tasman Sea, while enjoying views of waterfalls and marine life like fur seals, dolphins, and penguins. Next, board your scenic flight back to Queenstown. Take a different flight path from your outbound flight as you admire the spectacular views of Fiordland National Park. After the 40-minute journey back to Queenstown, enjoy complimentary transfer back to your accommodation.

Milford Sound: 2-Hour Small Boat Scenic Cruise

9. Milford Sound: 2-Hour Small Boat Scenic Cruise

Embrace the grandeur of Milford Sound's towering peaks and tumbling waterfalls on a scenic and boutique 2-hour cruise. Self-drive to Milford Sound Visitor Terminal enjoying the views en route. Sit back and relax as your cruise departs from Milford Sound Wharf and makes its way out past the iconic Mitre Peak. Cruise the length of the 16-kilometer fiord and out past St Annes Point Lighthouse. Go further and get closer to the magic that is Milford Sound as you travel through the fiord and out into the Tasman Sea. Hold your breath as your Skipper navigates closer to the shoreline, getting you right up close to the incredible surroundings. Be sure to bring your camera, as you'll be close to sights like the mighty Stirling Falls and Copper Point. Keep an eye out for seals basking in the sun, pods of dolphins or rare Fiordland Crested Penguins that can be found seasonally within the region.

From Te Anau: Milford Sound Coach and Cruise Day Trip

10. From Te Anau: Milford Sound Coach and Cruise Day Trip

Discover Milford Sound on an 8-hour adventure with round-trip transport from Te Anau and a 2-hour cruise through the fiord. If you are looking to explore both Milford and Doubtful Sounds, it is worth staying one or two nights in Te Anau. There is plenty to do plus you will save yourself the long journeys to and from Queenstown. At Milford Sound, climb aboard the leisurely nature cruise for an informative, interactive, and relaxed experience. A specialist guide will provide live informative commentary and you can admire the fiord’s wildlife, waterfalls, and mountains. Enjoy lunch on board the cruise — you may bring your own lunch or purchase snacks and drinks (cash only) on the vessel. Be prepared to enjoy some rainfall during your visit; the landscape is especially dramatic when it rains in Fiordland. Enjoy the spectacular views from a dry, comfortable vantage point on board the vessel. Following the cruise, immediately board the luxury coach for the return journey to Te Anau, arriving between 4:30 PM and 5:45 PM, depending on the season.

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What people are saying about Fiordland

Overall rating

4.8 / 5

based on 3,203 reviews

Fabulous cruise, certainly helped by beautiful weather, and the scenery is simply stunning. The "Faith" is a beautiful old boat and the crew, George and Sam, are most hospitable and friendly, and totally passionate about the boat the the tour they offer. The walk to the Hidden Lake is beautiful and we were entertained by several black robins along the way. Just make sure you wear sturdy shoes. The most relaxing way to spend 3 hours in Te Anau, such good value. Thank you George and Adam, and to Adam for some beautiful bagpipe playing way out in the middle of the lake.

Best way to see it all in a short space of time! No words can explain what you will see from the plane and the history on the cruise was incredible. The seals an dolphins were an added bonus!!! Would do it again in a heartbeat! Absolutely loved it!

Absolutely fantastic, especially the scenic flights. Only change I would suggest is to allow time between the cruise and flight to walk around or sit and enjoy.

I took it for granted living in our beautiful country. Breathtaking views, both sea and landscape, accompanied by knowledgeable commentary.

Lovely small group tour. Great informative guide/driver, very good clean bus and boat. Highly recommend this tour