With three days in Fiordland, you can explore seal colonies, hike into the rain forest, and soar above the mountains and coast at Fiordland National Park; enjoy outdoor adventures in Milford Sound; and still have time to take a day trip to remote Doubtful Sound. Here’s how to make the most of your time.
Day 1: Flying Over Fiordland
To get your bearings and take in the full scale of this oversize landscape, take a flight above Fiordland National Park from Te Anau or Queenstown and see tumbling waterfalls, remote glaciers, stony mountain peaks, and hidden lakes. When Milford Sound finally comes into view, touch down to see the magnificent fjord from water level and try to spot fur seals and dolphins. After you take in Milford Sound’s wildlife and scenery, board the plane for a return trip to Te Anau or Queenstown, or add on a Milford Sound cruise or guided hike for an all-day adventure.
Day 2: Active Adventure in Milford Sound
Stretch your legs on your second day with a hike or paddling trip to Milford Sound. If you’ve already flown there, consider traveling from Te Anau by bus, as you’ll get a different perspective on the park, stopping to walk and snap photos along the way. At Milford Sound, kayak trips can take you into tiny coves and inlets too small to see from a full-size sightseeing boat, and hiking is the perfect way to explore the thick forests that flank the fjord. Even if you’re not planning a multi-day trek along the Milford Track, you can get a taste on a day-long trip that begins and ends with a boat ride.
Day 3: Travel to Doubtful Sound
On your last day in Fiordland, set your sights on beautiful Doubtful Sound, far to the southwest of Milford Sound. Here the cliffs are higher, the views are bigger, and the inlet is longer, but the remote location means you’ll share it with far fewer visitors. Day trips from Te Anau combine overland coach travel with a boat trip, since visitors must cross Lake Manapouri to access the road to Doubtful Sound. Once you reach the fjord, watch for penguins and bottlenose dolphins. In addition to the basics—camera, waterproof jacket, and some warm layers—throw a bottle of bug repellent in your bag, since the sandflies in Doubtful Sound can be a nuisance.