Taking a boat trip through Milford Sound

The wow factor for nature - does it show nature at its best? Doesn't need to be the wilder-beast migration or diving with hundreds of hammerheads. Rather make you pause as you realise just how awesome the natural world can be
How much does this experience showcase some of the better and finer things that us humans can offer? Sure, it can be ancient ruins and renaissance churches, but it can also be festivals or soaking up some of the great modern cities of the world
Fun factor/activity
Very simple - was it fun? This is usually linked in with doing some kind of activity - i mean, walking along some cliffs is nice, but paragliding from them, now that is fun. Its a vastly underrated factor in a truly great experience
Avoid the crowds
Big tour groups and being surrounded by loud fellow tourists can sap the life out of even the greatest of travel experiences. This score is to reflect just how much you can avoid this. But. . . The score also takes into account if the crowds actually add to the experience, such as with a party town or a bustling food market
World famous
How world famous is the experience?
How hard is it to have a similar experience in other places round the world?
Overall Score
The highest score of nature or culture, + fun factor, + avoid the crowds, + the highest score of world famous or unique. Then turned into a score out of 100. More details at the bottom of the page
65 *What the scores mean and where do they come from
New Zealand
Length of time
1 day or less
Rough cost
Obviously people have different tastes, so this will depend on those tastes, but this is a rough idea of price of the whole experience based on 2 people able to split the accommodation costs and excluding travel there and back
$ 100
Time of year visited
Primary Tags
Click on any of the tags to see all travel experiences with the same tag
How this travel experience ranks compared to all the other experiences on this site
177th/372 This travel experience's ranking compared to all the other experiences on this site
Top 50% SUMMARY RATING: Great Experience


One of the natural highlights in a country already blessed with world class natural scenery, the fiords of Milford Sound and its surrounding forests are simply beautiful and deserve all the accolades.  A must on a visit to the South Island


#1 Seeing the magnificent fiord from one of the boat trips from Milford Sound Village

#2 Hearing the booming waterfalls emptying into the fjord

#3 The stunning drive along Milford Road on the way from Te Anau to Milford Sound

#4 Getting the chance to see some of local wildlife from the boat in the fiord

Travel Tips

  • Cruise – it would be silly to come all this way and not see Milford Sound from the water.  There are a heaps of cruise options from 1.5hour to overnight.  We went with the standard 3hours and that felt about right
  • Getting there – many people fly from Queenstown to Milford Sound.  But, if you have the time, instead drive along the stunning Milford Road from the lakeside town of Te Anau
  • Kayak – I wish we’d spent some time doing an activity in the water like kayaking.  Be sure to arrange it with a water taxi back
  • Rain – its rains A LOT in this part of New Zealand (7m / 23 feet a year).  Be prepared with waterproofs, but also for the pleasant rainbows you’ll see from the waterfalls
  • Penguins and dolphins – keep an eye out fr the variety of marine life on your cruise.  We were fortunate enough to see dolphins and a solitary penguin (ahhhhh . . .)

Experiences nearby

The below map shows experiences nearby with a colour that reflect the Overall Score of those experiences

Score Detail

Background - how many times have you asked someone what a travel experience was like and the response was "amazing" or "awesome"?  That response is nice to know, but it makes it hard to differentiate that experience compared to others.  That is exactly what these scores are trying to do - differentiate the experience by giving a score out of 10 based on 6 categories and then giving an overall experience score

This overall experience score is calculated by:  take the highest of the "Culture" or "Nature" score (1-10) + "Fun factor" (1-10) + "Avoiding the crowds" (1-10) + highest of the "Unique" or "World Famous score" (1-10).  Then convert into a score out of 100

Extra detail - the logic being that I find all of the 6 individual scores important, but I don't want to mark an experience down just because it doesn't cover both "Culture" and "Nature", or because it isn't both "World Famous" and "Unique".  Take the examples of Safari in The Serengeti and walking through Rome - they both appeal at opposite ends of the nature / culture spectrum, and you can have a fantastic time without needing to appeal to both sides.  So, their overall scores aren't penalized for their lack of one or the other, and I've done the same for "World Famous" vs "Unique".  But . . . I do think that the "Fun factor" of an experience is important, irrelevant of other factors, and so is "Avoiding the Crowds" (or where there are crowds that add to the experience).  So, both of these scores are standalone