Always wanted to see Rudyard Kipling’s “8th wonder of the world”, Milford Sound? We’ll show you several perspectives – from the deck of a boat, and from a kayak floating on the coalblack water. We'll also hike a section of the famous Routeburn Track. The jewel in the crown of Fiordland National Park, Milford Sound, must be seen to be believed. (Trip start - Queenstown, trip end - Queenstown).
- All guiding services: Two experienced New Zealand guides per trip. Having two guides allows for much greater flexibility, meaning you're able to go at your own pace.
- All meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner on all days, except where indicated on the itinerary. (Day 1 excludes breakfast, and day 2 excludes dinner).
- All transport: When you're not travelling under your own steam, there will be comfortable air-conditioned vans to stretch your legs.
- All accommodations: The only tour company to overnight at the Milford Lodge in Milford Sound!
- All activities: Hiking, biking and more! On this trip we've refined the subtle art of adventure travel, allowing you to discover the South Island on foot and by paddle
Explore Eglinton Valley, cruise Milford Sound
Whether you’re tacking this short escape onto a longer South Island adventure, or simply taking a couple of days out of your day-to-day, Queenstown is just a short hop from any other New Zealand airport, and has direct international flights from many Australian airports. It’s best to arrive the day before we start, so we can make the most of our short time together!
This morning we’ll meet you at the pick-up hotel and wind through the Devil’s Staircase road alongside Lake Wakatipu. We’ll take in the views of Cecil Peak to our right, and the Remarkables range to our left, before the mountains temporarily give way to the rich green grasses of proud Southland’s farming land. When we arrive at our first stop, Te Anau, on the shores of New Zealand’s second largest lake, we’re well and truly back in mountain country. Te Anau is the last bit of true civilisation on the road to Fiordland, and Milford Sound.
This afternoon we'll find the best place for a picnic lunch, depending on weather conditions. Afterwards we'll show you several of our favourite viewpoints on the Eglinton Valley road. When we arrive at Milford Sound we’ll relax on the deck of a ship, cruising the dark, deep waters of the fiord in the hands of a knowledgeable captain and the nature guides on board. We’ll marvel at the majesty of Mitre Peak - so named for its likeness to a Bishop’s hat - and get up close and personal with several waterfalls! The landscape here looks superimposed because of the sheer scale of your surroundings, so make sure you’ve got your camera.
Our final destination this evening is Milford Sound Lodge, a stone’s throw from the meeting point of Fiordland and the Tasman Sea. The Lodge’s beautiful chalets will be home for the night. To end our first day together we’ll wind down with dinner and drinks at the Lodge.
Milford Sound Lodge (Lunch, Dinner)
Kayak Milford Sound, hike Routeburn Track
We’re up bright and early this morning for breakfast - be sure to fuel up for our morning paddle on Milford Sound. We’ll meet our kayaking guide at the nearby Deepwater Basin, grab our safety gear, and hop into our sturdy double sea-kayaks. These contraptions have foot-operated rudders, so it’s easy to point yourself in the right direction without having to synchronise your paddling!
Where we’re headed this morning is around 14 kilometres from the end of the fiord and the powerful Tasman Sea, so the water is calm. Keep an eye out for Fiordland crested penguins (tawaki), New Zealand fur seals (kekeno), and even bottlenose dolphins (terehu) at the right time of year. Your kayak guide will point out several permanent waterfalls (and if it’s raining, hundreds of temporary ones!), and likely impart their knowledge of the Maori creation myths about Milford Sound. Kayaks offer a truly unique perspective of this majestic place, it's different to only taking a cruise - floating amongst colossal granite mountains jutting vertically out of the depths, in complete silence, is a gentle reminder of the unbridled power of nature.
After our paddle it’s back to the Lodge for lunch before we leave Milford Sound behind, heading for the Homer Tunnel. This 1.2 kilometre (0.75 miles) tunnel is an incredible feat of engineering – at a gradient of 1:10, and built in an area of high avalanche risk, the project took 18 years to complete, and gives access to one of the most-visited tourist destinations in New Zealand.
Next stop for us is the Divide, and a hike on one of New Zealand’s Great Walks, the Routeburn Track. The trail winds its way slowly up, for a total elevation gain of around 386 metres (1158 feet) and pops out of the old growth forest at Key Summit for spectacular 360 degree views – bask for a minute in the wild beauty of the Ailsa, Darran, and Humboldt Mountains, you earned it. This is an out and back track, so we’ll retrace our steps back to the bus and begin our journey home – refreshed and renewed by a shared appreciation for the truly great outdoors.
We’ll arrive back in Queenstown in the early evening, when our trip ends. Your guides will be able to make recommendations for dinner, if you’re dining out tonight.
Kayaking Distance: 3-4 kilometres (1.9-2.5 miles)
Hiking Distance: 7.6 kilometres (4.7 miles)
Elevation Gain: 386 metres (1158 feet)
Elevation Loss: 386 metres (1158 feet)