Milford Sound

For my first real holiday since moving here for work, we went to Milford Sound. Now, when I think of New Zealand and what it has to offer this is what springs to mind. All the research you can do on the country beforehand seems to point to Milford Sound, and there is a very obvious reason why. It is phenomenal.

Piopiotahi, as it is known in the Maori tongue, was first discovered by Europeans in 1812, with Captain John Grono. He originally named the paradise Milford Haven after his home in Wales. It was then changed to Milford Sound later by Captain John Lort Stokes. Interestingly, Milford Sound is not a Sound at all. Technically it is a deep water inlet between steep sided, high mountains, which would make the place a fiord. It is about 13km in length and is one of the most, if not the most, popular tourist attraction in New Zealand.


Due to its fame and popularity, I think there is quite a bit of pressure to explain the majesty and the beauty of the place to a high standard. Moreover, for anyone that has looked into New Zealand at all, they would have already read a fair amount about it. What I will pick out of the trip is how it differed for me, and hopefully you will be able to read some rather cool stuff. The three main ways it did this were through rainfall, waterfalls and wildlife.However, I will start by giving my best attempt at a description of Milford Sound to you. Can you remember in Jurassic Park when Hammond (Richard Attenborough) first shows them the  park and the iconic theme music sets in? First setting out on the boat and turning the corner to the witness the mountains, the mirrored lake, the waterfalls, and everything else, is close to that. It is just incredible. I think in a rather cheating way it is beyond description. But I think Rudyard Kipling had it best when he described it as the eighth wonder of the world. That is certainly apt.

One of the main ways it could have been different from what you have read before is that it did not rain. This is nearly unheard of, especially when considering we had holidayed in the middle of winter. The fiord normally experiences 180+ days of rain per year. With an average rainfall of around 150inches per year. We enjoyed a glorious day of clear(ish) skies, albeit a tad cold and windy.


It had obviously rained very recently when we had arrived as the waterfalls were in full force. They really add to the allurement of the fiord. How the waterfalls may read different to what you have heard before was a personal event that transpired. When the waterfalls were especially big and easy to get to, the captain would often sail right up to them in order for us to get great pictures. There was one that I saw that I was very eager to get close to. The problem was that I didn’t have a rain coat. All we had were these incredibly cheap ponchos. As we glided ever closer to the waterfall I violently struggled to get this poncho on. All the while trying to have my phone out ready to take this picture I dearly desired. The ponchos we bought were so cheap they ripped as soon as I put them over my head. Poncho, after poncho, after poncho I threw on. Until it was too late. The fall came and quickly consumed me. Luckily I had enough ponchos for the whole boatload and more, so you’ll be thankful to hear I didn’t get too wet. I later found that the captain of the ship was in hysterics at my ordeal and I do not blame him.

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The final way my experience may have differed was the wildlife. Although known for its animals we were incredibly lucky with what we found, and I believe I will struggle to see anything quite so amazing ever again. What we saw was a dolphin. And I know what you’re thinking, ‘everyone has seen dolphins before, why is that so cool?’ But this was no ordinary dolphin. Just as we set off on our return journey the captain alerted that a dolphin was at the hull. I was so excited. We all rushed over to the front of the boat and saw this friendly dolphin effortlessly glided along with us. It bobbed and it weaved and it played. I really was awe struck. It was an animal of pure muscle. Perfectly content with its lot in life, and perfectly happy to play with us. The dolphin stayed with us for at least 20 minutes, and it made the whole trip for me. I remember I used to hear people say, ‘Dolphins are my favourite animal’ And I just didn’t get it. ‘What is so special about them?’ I thought. Well now I know, and I’m pretty sure they are now my favourite animal too.

If you put it all together, the mountains, the waterfalls, the clear lake, the wildlife, it really looks as if it should be the location of a kingdom in a fantasy novel. You would expect to see water elves, nymphs, fairies or mermaids if you came here. I implore you to visit Milford Sound. There is an enchantment on this place, and I guarantee you will walk away with a spell on you.

Author: Scrutineeringstuff

A Yorkshireman in New Zealand finding out what's what. Reviewing the odd beach, trail, etc.

13 thoughts on “Milford Sound”

      1. Yesterday was good. We need rain, we need it big time, so this long hot summer which we’ve all been waiting for is starting to take it’s toll. But tomorrow is another day and yesterday is tomorrow….or something like that. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I had the same experience of Milford Sound, magical, although sadly, without the dolphin.I loved my trips to New Zealand so much, I wrote a book about them. Thanks for following my blog. Am looking forward to checking out more of yours. Cheers, Coral.


  2. Superb! I have had the pleasure of going a few times to Milford Sound now and every time has been different thanks mainly to the weather. All times great too. Not seen a dolphin there before though! Fantastic! I love dolphins too!


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