Milford Sound is the type of location that perennially makes bucket lists and is always among New Zealand's most visited tourist places every year, while the rest of Fiordland National Park stays uncrowded and untamed. This double-edged sword means that your options in seeing this fjord will be numerous, but often in the company of those who are checking off to-do lists instead of getting to truly learn from and explore such a beautiful and multifaceted destination.
Most folks will take the guided boat tours of Milford Sound, which can be a great way of hitting all of the highlights without having to worry about turning your ankle in an uphill scramble or feeling sore after a day of kayaking to the base of yet another cascading waterfall. Many tours can be booked from both Queenstown (bus trips which leave quite early and only provide a few hours in the sound) and Te Anau, but we urge you to delve into the area on your own.
Experience it all from the seat of a kayak or canoe: the sheer heights of rocks that just straight from the ocean, dolphins leaping in the surf, and waterfalls that halt their downward trajectories when the weather turns (as it frequently does) to rain and blustering wind. You can also see the region from countless tramping and hiking tracks, the greatest of which is the Milford Track, a four-day expedition that truly indulges the human fascination with the power and beauty of nature. You'll cross suspension bridges over raging rivers, cut through dense vegetation, visit the 580 meter (1,900 foot) Sutherland Falls, and clamber up Mackinnon Pass, surrounded constantly by stunning scenery. There are also plenty of shorter hikes that are detailed here. Not convinced that you've got time to truly see Milford Sound as you'd like? Try a flight over the sound; the only better way to see it is from the water. For more on this incredible natural area, take a look through the included links.