Experience the landscape of Milford Sound and Fjordland National Park on mountain roadways, a nature cruise, and a sightseeing flight from Milford Sound to Queenstown. Along the way, you’ll see some of the South Island's most remarkable scenery, such as Eglinton Valley, the Mirror Lakes, Stirling Falls, and Sutherland Falls, and Milford Sound is ideal for spotting wildlife. This combination tour includes transport by glass-roof coach, catamaran boat, and plane, as well as lunch, refreshments, and hotel pickup and drop-off.
Full-day Milford Sound trip by bus, boat, and plane
Get an early start on the day with pickup at your hotel in Queenstown (exact departure time depends on the location of your hotel). Board a glass-roof sightseeing coach for the trip to Milford Sound, which passes through the rugged mountain terrain of Fjordland National Park, part of a UNESCO World Heritage Centre.
Pause for morning tea in Te Anau, then continue through the Southern Alps and Eglinton Valley, which has thick forests climbing its glacially-carved, U-shaped sides. Milford Road winds through a series of highlights, from Mirror Lakes to Knobs Flat and Homer Tunnel, a .75-mile (1.2-km) tunnel carved through solid rock.
Upon arrival in Milford Sound, board a sightseeing catamaran boat for a trip down the full length of the 7.5-mile (12 km) fjord. A picnic lunch, coffee, and tea will be served on deck, and the catamaran features outdoor viewing decks for wildlife watching and photography.
Following the Milford Sound cruise, transfer to a landing strip for the return flight to Queenstown. You’ll have aerial views of the alpine lakes and waterfalls that are deep inside Fjordland National Park during the sightseeing flight, and the pilot will point out landmarks on the ground including Sutherland Falls, which spans 1,904 feet (580 meters). After touching back down in Queenstown, this tour concludes with drop-off at your hotel.
Depart Queenstown on your premium glass roofed coach, settle into your spacious and comfortable seat. Begin by traversing the shoreline of Lake Wakatipu, from Queenstown, to Kingston. Lake Wakatipu is New Zealand's longest lake at 46 miles / 75 kms, it is also incredibly deep, up to 1,250ft / 380 meters at some points!
Stop for a morning short break in the small town of Te Anau, nestled on the sores of lake Te Anau. Te Anau has a population of just over 2,000 people and is know as the 'gateway to Fiordland'.
note: morning tea is not included and must be purchased if required.
Soon after departing Te Anau, enter the Fiordland National Park at 4,868 square miles, it is New Zealand's largest National Park and also a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Your coach driver will provide a full commentary on the region, as you journey through and soak in the scenery.
Journey through the Southern Alps and along the picturesque Eglinton valley, a place of ancient forest and gushing waterfalls.
A 5 minuet photo stop takes place here (times and specific stop locations may vary at the driver's discretion).
Take advantage of various photo opportunities on offer along the Milford Road, like the stunning mirror lakes, where on a calm day the surrounding mountain ranges are perfectly reflected in the still waters.
A 10 minuet photo stop takes place here (times and specific stop locations may vary at the driver's discretion).
Another photo stop and rest break, view where glaciers have carved their mark on the rugged terrain.
A 5 minuet toilet break takes place here (times and specific stop locations may vary at the driver's discretion).
Take a short photo stop at Monkey creek, wonder at the towering cliffs and take a drink of pure glacial water.
A 5 minuet photo stop takes place here (times and specific stop locations may vary at the driver's discretion).
Experience the Chasm, a short but impressive walk over footbridges, spanning a series of powerful, swirling waterfalls and rapids.
A 15 minuet walk takes place here (times and specific stop locations may vary at the driver's discretion).
Arrive in Milford Sound to board your 1 hour 45-minute Cruise
with family owned and operated Cruise Milford and set off to explore the region that Rudyard Kipling called the Eighth Wonder of the World. Along the way your captain will provide lively and informative commentary while enjoying a Picnic Lunch on the cruise.
Travel the length of the fiord and out to the Tasman Sea, gliding past glacier-scarred rock walls and waterfalls that tumble through valleys and crash into the sea far below.
Lush native forest clings to steep cliffs, while seals, penguins and dolphins are regular visitors to the icy waters.
During your cruise, view the Bowen Falls, it is one of Milford Sound's two permanent waterfalls and at 530ft / 162 meters, is Milford's highest waterfall. After rainfall, there are hundreds of waterfalls to be viewed in the fiord!
When your cruise returns, all being well with the weather, you will meet your pilot for your return flight to Queenstown.
Your pilot will escort you to the Milford Sound airport, if time allows, the pilot will take you on a short bush walk through the native beech forest.
The flight time to Queenstown is 35 minuets.
In the case of inclement weather, you you will remain with your coach driver, who will drive you back to Queenstown. If this is the case, you will be refunded for the cancelled flight portion of the excursion.
After taking off from Milford Sound the flight path first takes in overhead view of the fiord and Mitre Peak, before tracing south, down the Arthur valley. At the head of this valley, the Sutherland Falls can be viewed, this is New Zealand's highest waterfall, falling impressively 1,900ft / 580 meters to the valley floor below.
Taking in stunning views of small alpine lakes, jagged peaks and now capped mountains, you will then cross over the main divide of the Southern Alps. The route then traverses the densely forested Greenstone and Caples valleys.
After emerging from the Greenstone valley, fly over Lake Wakatipu. Lake Wakatipu is New Zealand's longest lake at 46 miles / 75 kms, it is also incredibly deep, up to 1,250ft / 380 meters at some points! Queenstown is nestled on the lake's shores, so some great views of the town are enjoyed before landing.
Beautiful and long day tour to Milford Sound with amazing scenery along the way. I tried to fly back, but the weather was no cooperating so I just relaxed and enjoyed the scenery again in the reverse direction.
One of the highlights of my life - and I've been on all 7 continents
, Feb 2020
The road was closed due to a landslide, so we flew in and out of Milford Sound. Bad weather was coming in, so we couldn't take the cruise which was a bit of a disappointment, but oh my gosh, the scenery from the plane and at the Sound was amazing. The pilot made every effort to explain what we were seeing and to make everyone comfortable. Highly recommended!
great scenery to Milford and the Sound is spectacular. Don't expect the guide to do too much talking and it's a long 5 hour drive. there are some very nice but super quick stops along the way. if you can stomach it, definitely take the return flight back. I can't imagine having to have a silent 5 hour drive back at 4 pm. ugh.
The scenery is breathtaking and the bus comfortable.
The tour was alright but very disjointed and basically a combination of 3 parts by 3 different companies and I think paying more for one company who does it all is worth it because the sound itself is beautiful. It is basically a bus tour to get there, a boat tour (Cruise Milford) of the sound, and then the flight back (Air Milford). The boat and the flight were amazing - and the guides were friendly and knowledgable. The Air Milford flight folks were really helpful in the lead up as we determined if weather would allow us to fly back (it did and it was amazing). The problems were really with the bus part - firstly, the instructions for pick up weren't as clear as they could be regarding which bus to look for and it made finding the right bus in the morning stressful. The driver was good and knowledgeable but they appeared to have packed lunches for the wrong group and so people with dietary restrictions were left hanging and the driver wasn't even apologetic at all. They also kept saying we would be able to make 3 stops and that we were on time the whole ride but at the last minute said we didn't have time for the last stop, which was really disappointing since the other 2 were great and it is unclear why the situation changed all of the sudden. I and others would have much rather we left 30 min earlier to guarantee we could make all 3 stops, so it was quite frustrating. Finally, the driver guide wasn't good with instructions - when we got off the bus he didn't say when and where to get the boat or where to go afterwards, and I almost missed the connection to the air strip because of it. I really felt like because they were 3 different companies it was just unnecessarily disjointed.
Our bus driver/guide, Margo, was a very skilled driver and had a wealth of information to share. Along the way we passed through her home town (pop. 300) so she knew everything about the mountains, the weather and farming facts to the smallest detail! The boat tour guide showed us as much as there was to tell in quite a humorous way, and finally our pilot showed extraordinary views of the mountains, also polite and amusing!
A perfect day with sun shining on new snow Hamish our Gray Line coach driver was great. Safe and informative. His commentary and area knowledge perfectly pitched with strategic stops for photos.
The cruise outstanding and then the flight back to Queenstown with Air Milford a spectacular wondeland. This is a must do day trip.
I highly recommend this trip!! I am so glad we did not drive ourselves so we could enjoy the scenery throughout the drive. If you can, request Eric as your driver!! Eric is fantastic and very knowledgeable!! Due to weather our flight was cancelled the company helped us by making arrangements for us to return by helicopter with another tour company- they could have easy have said we needed to take the cruise back vs helping accommodate us. This tour was the highlight of our trip to NZ.
Well worth the time. Gorgeous weather and scenic bus drive there with a knowledgeable and fun driver/guide. Nice cruise and a great flight home...well worth the money to get ti see the mountains from up top.
The Millford Sound was absolutely incredible, I very highly recommend going out to see it if you're in Queenstown. This specific tour was a really great way to experience it. The bus was brand new and had USB ports for each seat to charge phones, cameras, etc. Our driver had a nice dry sense of humor and was very knowledgable about the region. He pointed out a number of very beautiful points, backed up with interesting facts about each, and knew the answers to a number of questions posed by the guests.
The cruise was incredible in all aspects. The staff working the boat were really friendly and came to talk to each of us to tell us about the locations we were seeing. The driver of the boat took us exceptionally close to a number of interesting sites, including resting seals and a number of waterfalls.
Finally, our flight back was really cool. The bird's-eye view of the area wrapped things up perfectly. Our pilot was clearly very experienced - the area is exceedingly windy, so it's not the easiest flight, but our pilot was able to keep the plane as steady as can be.