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On Milford Sound cruises, you’ll witness one of New Zealand’s most breathtaking natural attractions. This stunning fjord, which was once called “the eighth wonder of the world,” is located within Fiordland National Park, a pristine, ecological wonderland that is part of the Te Wahipounamu UNESCO World Heritage Site.
On a New Zealand cruise, you’ll glide down this stunning inlet of water and find yourself surrounded by dramatic cliffs, lush rainforests, and plunging waterfalls. Keep your eyes open for the wide variety of rare birds and unique wildlife that inhabit Milford Sound, such as fur seals, bottlenose dolphins, and Kea, the only alpine parrot in the world.
One of the most iconic sights of Milford Sound is Mitre Peak, a towering mountain that soars over 5,000 feet above the water. The peak is named after a bishop’s hat (also known as a mitre) because of its distinctive cone-shaped crest. No Milford Sound cruise is complete without a snapshot of Mitre Peak in the background.
During a cruise through Milford Sound, you’ll encounter the misty spray of the area’s many waterfalls. Admire Lady Elizabeth Bowen Falls, Milford Sound’s tallest waterfall and the sole provider of the nearby town’s power and water supply. Sail past the steep Stirling Falls, which tower 500 feet over the water. See if you can spot The Four Sisters, a set of four cascading waterfalls that often project a number of rainbows into the mist.
Milford Sound’s damp climate and heavy rainfall make the surrounding cliffs and rainforests the perfect home for a number of marine animals and rare species. As you cruise Milford Sound, spot lazy fur seals lounging in the sun at Seal Point, keep your eyes peeled for bottlenose and dusky dolphins leaping out of the water, and look for the famous Fiordland crested penguin, whose singular orange beak and yellow eyebrows are a sight to behold.
Milford Sound was originally discovered over 1,000 years ago by Maori tribes that traveled through the inlet. The Maori people believed Milford Sound was created after one of their gods chanted a prayer that tore open the rocky walls, but in reality, Milford Sound was formed by slowly moving glaciers that carved out the landscape during the Ice Age.
In 1823, the fjord was discovered by Captain John Grono, who named the fjord Milford Sound after his birthplace, Milford Haven. In 1877, Scottish gold prospector Donald Sutherland moved to Milford Sound and became its first official resident. He later built the first hotel in the area and welcomed a number of visitors, who were amazed by the area’s spectacular natural beauty. Today, Milford Sound is considered New Zealand’s most popular tourist destination and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Even though you’ll be cruising during your time in Milford Sound, keep in mind that the local currency is the New Zealand dollar. Tipping isn’t customary in New Zealand, but if you experienced excellent service, a small tip is always welcome. Credit cards are also accepted in most locations.