Introducing Milford Sound
First sight of Milford Sound is stunning: still, dark waters out of which rise sheer rocky cliffs, and forests clinging to the slopes sometimes relinquish their hold, causing a ‘tree avalanche’ into the waters. The spectacular, photogenic 1692m-high Mitre Peak rises dead ahead. It’s a vista to make you go ‘ooo’. And there’s more – a cruise out on the waters of Milford Sound is the most accessible of trips on any of Fiordland’s famous sounds, complete with seals, dolphins and an almost guaranteed downpour of rain (an average of 7m per year!) that creates a spectacular deluge of cascading waterfalls and afterwards adds an appropriately moody mist to the scene.
One of NZ’s biggest tourist attractions, Milford Sound receives about half a million visitors each year, most of them crammed into the peak months (January and February). Some 14, 000 arrive by foot, via the Milford Track which ends at the sound, many more drive from Te Anau, but most arrive via the multitude of buses that pull into the cruise wharf. At peak times, the cruise terminal resembles a busy international air terminal. Nevertheless, when you get out on the water, all of this humanity seems tiny in the face of nature’s vastness.
The terminal area is also regularly swarming with ferocious sandflies. Thankfully they stay behind on land.
The rest of Milford township is fairly unimpressive for such a grand location. There’s really not much else to town apart from the cruise terminal and the carpark, though if you take the turn off to Deep Water Basin about 1km out of town, you can explore the small fishing wharf area.
Last updated: Feb 17, 2009
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