Milford Sound Overnight Cruise

We spent one night at the Fiordland Lodge just outside of Te Anau before headed out to Milford Sound.  There a several nice stops along the way so take your time.  It took us about 8 hours to make the 121km journey but we stopped at almost every sight along the way.

Key Summit

The highlight of the drive to Milford Sound is the detour we took to hike to the key summit.  The key summit is about a 3 hour round trip hike that follows the start of the Routeburn Track then veers off to the summit about an hour in.  The views are amazing and the weather cooperated with us that day.  Dress warmly though because the wind was killer.

Entrance to Milford Sound

I did some research on the best trips to do in Milford Sound and everyone said that the overnight cruise is best.  With that recommendation our agent booked the overnight journey on the Milford Mariner run by Real Journeys.  Real Journeys is a big, very commercial company that runs several different tours.  They also did the glowworm cave tour we did in Te Anau that was mediocre at best.

Milford Mariner

The ship was pretty well appointed.  The rooms were decent as was the food.  The staff were pretty friendly and the slideshow they did at night was educational and entertaining (lots of Aussie jokes).  Overall, not a bad experience BUT I wouldn’t recommend it during the winter.  By the time we pushed off it was almost dark which didn’t make for good pictures.  During the summer it stays much lighter later and the sun rises earlier which gives you more daylight hours to take photos, kayak, etc.

Milford Sound

Also, a storm was rolling in so we couldn’t go very far out into the sound.  Also, because of the “storm” which turned out just to be a bit of rain, we had to go back to the dock to tie up for the night.  We basically had an hour on deck at night before it got to dark and then less than an hour cruise in the morning in the dingy (the ship was still tied to the dock).  Nobody was sure why they didn’t take the ship back out so everyone could enjoy one last view of the Sounds.  Instead, only a few people who didn’t mind getting cold and wet went into the dingy for a short trip just outside the port.

The three main reasons to do the overnight cruise for us were:

  1. Venturing further out into the sound than you would on a day trip
  2. Sleep overnight anchored in Milford Sound
  3. Kayaking in the early morning right from the boat with no other tourists around (avoiding all the day trip people)

Unfortunately, we couldn’t do any of those things.  Like I said, not a bad experience and not totally their fault because they couldn’t control the rain but a day cruise would have been a much better choice… and much cheaper.

Waterfalls in Milford Sound after it rains

Couple of video clips from the Key Summit hike, some stops along the road to Milford Sound and from the overnight cruise on the Sound.  Enjoy…

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