After spending the morning driving on the scenic Road to Milford Sound, we went on a nature cruise on Milford Sound for a chance to spot penguins, whales, dolphins, seals, and more. Although it’s called Milford Sound, technically it’s not a sound but rather a fjord–an inlet of the Tasman sea and is found within Fiordland National Park.
This was our first glimpse of Milford Sound. There were a lot of clouds, but apparently that’s normal most days of the year. I liked the the stormy look…it made everything look so mysterious and enchanting. We spent two days in the area and didn’t get to see the top of Mitre peak (pictured above in the middle topped with clouds).
I recommend booking with Southern Discoveries for a small boat experience. We opted for the Encounter Nature Cruise, which lasts 2.5 hours with informative commentary and plenty of time to get up close and personal with nature and wildlife.
I was so impressed by the beauty of the sheer cliffs, colors, and string of waterfalls. The color of the water ranged from turquoise to green and deep blue, depending on the depth of the water.
Our boat took us right up underneath this waterfall. Make sure you wear clothes and shoes that you don’t mind getting wet if you’re outside on the boat. They provide raincoats on board, but you will likely get soaked. Talk about getting up close and personal with nature!
There were only a few other boats that we saw out on the water. I hear that it gets crowded earlier in the day because of the hundreds of people that drive in all the way from Queenstown. We took an afternoon cruise after all the day trippers had left and loved having the place pretty much to ourselves.
We spent a good amount of time observing the seals while they napped, sunbathed, and played on the rocks. I can’t really explain why, but I thought everything they did was cute. Apparently everyone else on the boat thought so, too, given all the photos and selfies that were taken right below us.
When you book your cruise, you’ll have the option of adding on a visit to the Milford Discovery Centre & Underwater Observatory. We didn’t have time to visit, but it sounds really interesting. You can see the entrance to the center in the photo above. The center and observatory are located underwater! Unlike an aquarium, where the fish are in a tank, here you get to observe the sea life in their own environment while YOU are in a tank behind the glass. That’s pretty awesome.
Lady Bowen Falls (above) is the tallest waterfall in Milford Sound at 531 ft and serves as the main source of water and electricity for the town.
I loved cruising on the Encounter Nature Cruise with Southern Discoveries. There are a lot of companies to choose from, and I highly recommend them. I very much enjoyed the small boat experience, because it allows you to get up closer to the waterfalls and animals. Our captain was great, giving us really interesting facts and cracking some pretty funny jokes. They offer free hot drinks and have plenty of seats inside, as well as space outside to take in all viewing angles. The check-in and boarding process was smooth and the crew was fantastic. Even though we didn’t see any dolphins or penguins, I thought it was worth it if only to get the chance to cruise through the fjord and enjoy the scenery of majestic cliffs and waterfalls. And the cute seals.