"FAQ - Under Construction" Fiordland National Park by Kakapo2

Fiordland National Park Travel Guide: 33 reviews and 109 photos

I have lately been in Fiordland, so have up-to-date info. However, it will take a while until I can post all the things I have seen and know. In the meantime I will just place some Forum answers below.

I have now finished my Milford Sound page. You find all essential information about the marvels along the Milford Road, cruises on Milford Sound, animals, plants, all technical info, and walks including the Milford Track, on this page.

Feel free to ask and post more questions in the Forum. If I can, I am happy to help.

Things I have done and seen:
- Milford Sound Cruise with Mitre Peak Cruises
- Drive on the Milford Road
- Hikes along the Milford Road
- Foreshore Walk at Milford Sound
- Wildlife Encounters (penguins, keas, dolphins, seals)
- Stayed at Te Anau
- Dined out in Te Anau
- Had coffee at Milford Sound
- Doubtful Sound Cruise with RealJourneys
- Visited the Underground Power Station at Lake Manapouri
- Cuised Lake Te Anau and visited the Glowworm Caves
- Went shopping in Te Anau
- Visited the Birdlife Centre in Te Anau
- Sprayed a lot of sandfly repellent on my skin and into the car

Important note: It is not difficult to get on a cruise at Milford Sound but cruises at Doubtful Sound fill up quickly, especially overnight cruises. Absolutely book any Doubtful Sound cruise in advance or you could miss out. I have listed my thoughts about the differences of Milford and Doubtful Sounds in a General Tip on this Fiordland page.

Info from Forum answers:

The net driving time from Te Anau to Milford is about 2 hours (only 121 km) - but you cannot just drive without stopping for some photos if the weather is nice. The first part is flat and relatively straight but then the winding part with up and downhill starts, and after the Homer Tunnel the road is zig zag down the hill.

In the afternoon there is also the chance of waiting 15 minutes in front of the Homer Tunnel as they stop the traffic alternately. The road surface inside the tunnel is shocking, you hobble through potholes, and it is sooo dark. It is also narrow and when the bulk of the buses make their way through it it is really better to have only one way traffic. I was lucky on the way back to get through the green traffic light. In the early morning (no buses yet) the traffic light is not operating yet. I think the drive from Te Anau to Milford Sound took us about 2.5 hours, we stopped about 5 times. Plus add those 15 min at the tunnel, just for the case.

At Milford Sound is a Foreshore Walk. It takes only 20 minutes if you do not stop and photograph every minute as I did ;-) There is also an Underwater Observatory but as you only reach it by water taxi or with a cruise it costs extra money. See: www.milforddeep.co.nz

There is a walkway from the wharf to the Lady Bowen Falls.

You could also drive part way up the hill and do the walk to the Chasm.

And you can walk some way into the Milford Track - but you would need boat transport to Sandfly Point, and if you do not have several hours or even a day, it is not really worth to invest the money for the boat.

In nice weather you will be happy to sit on the foreshore, enjoy the views and the feeling and the peace (as long as no scenic flights or helicopters take off LOL).

Also explore the wharf. Penguins start moulting in February, and some would still be moulting in March. The process takes about a month. The Fiordland Crested Penguins are cuties with hot hairstyle ;) At the wharf they told me the day before I was there two or three penguins had walked into the terminal building. We saw one on the rocks not far from there. The poories cannot swim during moulting, so they stay on land and only go into the water to drink.

You will also have encounters with keas. The more time you have and just hang around the higher the chance of spotting wildlife.

Mitre Peak Cruises BTW is a very good choice as they do not accommodate big tour groups, just independent travellers, and they are the only company to sail out to the Tasman Sea. Also a very good decision to do the early or late cruise and even stay at Milford Sound. You will be delighted - just do not forget your insect repellent :-) When I was at Milford Sound early just the other day there was only one tour bus at the carpark, and the carpark was full at 12noon. We then drove back on an empty road and made our walks - and had an empty road back to Te Anau again, as the buses had left in the meantime.

The latest kayak trips of the day start at 2.30pm - because they return at 7.30pm. Any later start would make you return in the dark. This is far too dangerous for such activities. (BTW I have a flyer of www.roscosmilfordkayaks.com where I get my kayak wisdom from... ;-) Another provider would be www.fiordlandseakayak.co.nz) I have not paddled at Milford Sound myself.

Trips to Doubtful Sound and the Power Station are totally organised, as only one operator has a licence. So no need to think of anything but insect repellent and food. The drive from Te Anau to Manapouri where the first of two boat trips starts takes about 15 minutes. (First you cross Lake Manapouri by boat. On the other side a bus picks you up and transports you over Wilmot Pass to Doubtful Sound where your cruise starts. Visits to the Power Station are either before or after the cruise, they are flexible with this.)

A final note: Sounds or fiords?
Milford and Doubtful Sound are no sounds but fiords. Fiords have been created by glaciers, sounds are collapsed river systems that have been invaded by the sea. The Marlborough Sounds and the Bay of Islands are such sounds.

  • Last visit to Fiordland National Park: Feb 2009
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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