Southland
Safaris & Wildlife Activities

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Our most recommended Southland Safaris & Wildlife Activities

Milford Sound: Cruise, Underwater Observatory, and Lunch

1. 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.

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Stewart Island: 2.5-Hour Cruise and Ulva Island Guided Walk

2. Stewart Island: 2.5-Hour Cruise and Ulva Island Guided Walk

Discover Stewart Island from the water with a 2.5-hour experience including a cruise of beautiful Paterson Inlet and a 45-minute guided walk in Ulva Island Wildlife Sanctuary. Admire Paterson Inlet’s stunning scenery from hidden coves to unspoilt beaches. Hear fascinating stories of early Maori history and European settlement from your guide as you pass various landmarks. Your passionate guide will provide engaging commentary and is more than happy to answer questions. While on board, keep a lookout for fur seals, penguins and other wildlife, as sightings are common. Paterson Inlet is home to renowned wildlife sanctuary Ulva Island. Disembark here for a 45-minute guided walk with a specialist nature guide. The island is home to weka (native woodhen), bush robins, rare saddlebacks and yellowheads amongst other species. It is also a protected habitat for some of New Zealand’s rarest plant species. Relax for the remainder of the cruise around Paterson Inlet and enjoy the coastal scenery before heading back to the wharf.

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Milford Sound Nature Cruise with Optional Lunch

3. 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.

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Te Anau: Milford Sound Bus, Cruise, Observatory, and Lunch

4. Te Anau: Milford Sound Bus, Cruise, Observatory, and Lunch

Set off on a day trip from Te Anau to Milford Sound and enjoy a more intimate and in-depth experience of Milford Sound. Discover the native wildlife, towering waterfalls, and majestic mountains of the fiord on an intimate cruise on a smaller boat. Journey through spectacular landscapes as your experienced, local bus driver provides engaging and informative commentary. Enjoy short walks and photo stops along Milford Road. Arrive at Milford Sound and relax on a nature cruise with a freshly prepared picnic lunch onboard. Get within touching distance of impressive rock walls and up close to Stirling Falls. Your passionate skipper will share their local knowledge with lively and informative commentary. Visit Milford Sound Underwater Observatory along the way. Descend 60 steps down a spiral staircase into a spacious viewing chamber to discover the unique and beautiful environment hidden under the surface of Milford Sound. Cruise back to the Milford Sound Visitor Centre to re-join the bus for the return journey to Te Anau.

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Milford Sound Fiord Cruise & Helicopter Glacier Landing

5. Milford Sound Fiord Cruise & Helicopter Glacier Landing

Discover Milford Sound's stunning fjord from high in the air and on the water. Land in Milford and join an unforgettable fjord cruise past sheer cliffs and gushing waterfalls.Try to spot dolphins, seals, and adorable penguins. Then enjoy an exhilarating flight past spectacular rivers, valleys, and mountains with blue-green ice falls, and experience a glacier or mountain landing in the heart of Fiordland National Park. Today, many of the local landscapes can be recognized because of their use as film locations. You can even fly over where movies were filmed! The pilots regularly work with film production crews and are happy to share plenty of stories of life on the film set. Finally, for the photo opportunity of a lifetime, alight on a glacier and enjoy panoramic views. These highly experienced, well-known local pilots can’t wait to share with you their extensive knowledge and history of the area while showing you the best of New Zealand's amazing scenery. Please note that there may not be snow on the day of your flight depending on the season, especially during summer.

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Milford Sound Full Day Tour from Queenstown

6. Milford Sound Full Day Tour from Queenstown

In the heart of Fiordland National Park, Milford Sound is known as one of New Zealand’s top scenic attractions. On this day tour from Queenstown, jump on board an air-conditioned coach and be entertained with commentary from your driver/guide. After passing through the 1.2-kilometer-long Homer Tunnel, descend into Milford Sound. Here jump on board a boat to cruise along the fjord. Take in the famous sights, like the uniquely-shaped Mitre Peak and the glacier-scarred rock. Keep an eye out for marine life like dolphins, seals, and penguins too. The fjord is dotted with waterfalls that tumble through the valleys and crash into the sound far below, making the scenery in Milford Sound spectacular, rain or shine.

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Queenstown: Small-Group Tour to Milford Sound with Cruise

7. Queenstown: Small-Group Tour to Milford Sound with Cruise

Join a fully-guided, small-group day tour from Queenstown or Te Anau to the world-renowned Milford Sound; the crowning jewel of Fiordland. Highlights of the drive will include Lake Wakatipu, the Devil’s Staircase, the truly majestic mountains of Fiordland, Mirror Lake, the Chasm, and Homer Tunnel. You will also enjoy multiple stops along the way for photo opportunities and Kea bird spotting (the world’s largest alpine parrot). You will then travel through the mind-blowing Homer Tunnel, emerging as the valley descends sharply down to Milford Sound, with its hundreds of waterfalls cascading into the crystal clear waters beneath. At Milford Sound you will take an intimate cruise on a smaller boat that gets right up close with nature and wildlife. Onboard your cruise you will have up-close views of thousands of waterfalls, Mitre Peak, as well as local wildlife, providing you with hundreds of amazing photo opportunities along the way. Following your cruise you will begin the return journey back to Queenstown, stopping again in Te Anau for a quick break. At the end of the day, your guide will drop you back to your Queenstown accommodation, or you can opt to upgrade to a scenic, one-way flight back from Milford instead (to be booked during the booking process). Choose this option for the ultimate view over the mountains and region during your return journey.

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Queenstown: Milford Sound Flight and Cruise

8. Queenstown: Milford Sound Flight and Cruise

Take flight a small luxury plane leaving Queenstown. Admire the awe-inspiring scenery from your very own window seat as you soar over Fiordland National Park, listening to the pilot's commentary. Landing at Milford Sound airport you will be escorted to the Cruise Terminal either by shuttle or 15 minute nature walk to meet your boat. Enjoy 2 hours of spectacular scenery and wildlife on the Gem of the Sound, learn all about the history of the area from the skipper as he skillfully pulls the boat underneath waterfalls and right up to the base of famous Mitre Peak. Your pilots will meet you off the cruise at the Terminal and take you back to the awaiting plane for your return to Queenstown. Your complimentary shuttle will drop you back to your hotel with plenty of time to enjoy the legendary dining scene.

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Milford Sound Premium Day Tour and Cruise from Queenstown

9. Milford Sound Premium Day Tour and Cruise from Queenstown

This coach trip includes a Milford Sound cruise aboard a comfortable, purpose-built cruise boat with optional lunch and refreshments. Enjoy multiple stops on your way to Milford Sound which makes the day even more amazing! When you arrive in Te anau - your first stop of the day - enjoy a toilet break and time to grab something from the cafe. They have great coffee, muffins and snacks! Enjoy a stop at the mirror lakes, a beautiful 5 minute boardwalk through a rainforest and other photo opportunities that make your journey to Milford Sound even more special.  On arrival at Milford Sound you immediately proceed to the boat terminal, where your driver will give you your boat pass and direct you to your cruise boat. On boarding, make yourself comfortable in one of the saloons or catch the scenery from the decks. Milford Sound is famous for its waterfalls, and if it's raining it's even more spectacular. The boats nudge right up to the base of the waterfalls, often challenging visitors to fill a glass of water from the cascading plumes! This luxury tour already has reserved window seating for you - so no need to worry about getting a seat! On board feel free to buy yourself snacks and sandwiches from the cafe or treat yourself to a buffet lunch! The boats are often escorted by pods of dolphins, while seals bask on the rocks. Take in the stunning scenery while your skipper gets you as close as possible to the wildlife for some fantastic photos. The cruise will take you out to the point where the fiord meets the open sea, and it is here at Anita Bay that the Maori collected their sacred Pounamu or Greenstone – prized for making tools, jewelry and ornaments, and still a highly-valued stone today. 

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Milford Sound: Premium Small Group Tour from Queenstown

10. Milford Sound: Premium Small Group Tour from Queenstown

Get away from the overcrowded buses, long lines, and obstructed views, and enjoy pure premium travel as you embark on a fabulous small group tour to discover New Zealand's renowned Milford Sound. Combining premium travel in a Mercedes with an amazing scenic nature cruise, a picnic lunch (optional), and loads of off-the-beaten-track visits to stunning locations, this really is the best way to discover Milford Sound. Travel to Milford in style in a luxury Mercedes minivan fully equipped with Wi-Fi, bottled water, and large viewing windows for taking in the amazing sights. Enjoy plenty of stops along the way. Upon arrival to Milford, take a scenic 2-hour cruise along the fjord, where you can lap up the spectacular sights and go under waterfalls. Allow your local guide to provide you with informative commentary while you absorb the lush surrounding scenery and spectacular views. Along the way, you'll see everything from cascading waterfalls, mirrored lakes, and awe-inspiring mountains to fascinating fur seals and dolphins. There is even a stop at a native beech forest where you can take a leisurely stroll. This premium experience is topped off with a delicious picnic lunch which can be enjoyed on the cruise while soaking up the views, before traveling back to Queenstown.

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Other Sightseeing Options in Southland

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What people are saying about Southland

Overall rating

5.0 / 5

based on 6 reviews

Excellent boat tour of Milford Sound with great friendly staff and interesting and informative commentary from the skipper. Included a delicious lunch and as much tea/coffee as you could drink. Those that chose to get wet could get under the spray from one of the waterfalls.

One of the best things we have ever done. It was without a doubt breathtaking. This is the one thing in NZ among all the other wonderful things is a must do.

Great guide who pointed out the flora and fauna of the island and took time to explain and answer questions.

Views are truly stunning and majestic. Words can't describe how beautiful it is.

It’s awesome and very beautiful. We enjoyed whole journey