Milford Sound Travel Guide

The sounds of a shearing gang setting up comes from the shed as we pass by bound for Milford Sound. We’ve a 115km journey ahead of us through some of New Zealand’s most scenic countryside yet the weather, which looked so promising yesterday, has packed in.

“What a shame,” cries Bob as we drive through the Eglinton Valley. After some 55 kilometres we stop at the Mirror Lakes, but there’s no reflections of mountains today.

Fortunately Bob picked up a copy of the “Road to Milford Sound”, a 60-minute commentary and he slips the disc into our trusty rental car’s CD player. It’s extremely informative and takes our mind off the weather.

“Stop,” yells Bob suddenly as we pass a sign: “Latitude 45 Degrees South”. He insists on having his photo taken, even though it’s pouring with rain. Soaked, and thankful for our vehicle’s heating, we continue on past Cascade Creek, Lake Gunn and Lake Fergus to the Kaka Creek Lookout overlooking the Hollyford Valley.

A kea joins us as we wait hopefully for the view, much of which is obscured by thick clouds. Occasionally we catch provocative glimpses of what lies behind, before the weather closes in again. We continue on, passing through an active avalanche area where signs warn us that snow chains are mandatory from May to September.

Suddenly, without warning, we shoot through low cloud into the Homer Tunnel and begin a sharp descent through the heart of a mountain. More low cloud follows and then we arrive at Milford Sound village. After a hot meal at the café, we don raincoats and walk to the harbour to board a boat for our cruise of Milford Sound.

“Two out of every three days it rains at Milford Sound,” says our guide, Nathan. “But the good news is that Milford Sound’s spectacular in any weather!”

The rain eases, so Bob and I climb up to the viewing platform where we gain complete panoramic views of the sound’s high dramatic headlands. Misty clouds cling to peaks and hollows adding an eerie, mystical air, and dozens of magnificent waterfalls tumble into a deep, teal-green sea.

We cruise past a cloud-swathed Mitre Peak, taking in Copper Point’s metallic deposits and Fairy Falls before we reach Dale Point at the entrance of the fiord. Here we turn around and make our way via Seal Rock, complete with a pair of seals, to the magnificent Stirling Falls, which plummet some 155 metres and are at their most spectacular after such heavy rain.

“Amazing,” says Bob shooting photo after photo, “it’s beautiful!”

We pass by the underwater observatory in Harrison Cove, which is framed by snowcapped Mt Pembroke with its 27 metre long remnant of a glacier that once carved its way through the fiord. Finally, on our return to the wharf at Freshwater Basin, we pass the gushing Lady Bowen Falls, an incredible 161-metre drop from a hanging valley.

“Well,” says Bob, as we disembark, and begin the return drive to Mt Prospect Station, “I can’t think of anywhere else in the world that looks so stunning in the rain!”