What is the best trip for me at Milford Sound?

29 Aug 2022

Milford Track Guided Day Walk or Milford Sound Coach Cruise and Walk

Visiting Milford Sound is a must-do activity when traveling in NZ.  For some people it is a once-in-a-lifetime, bucket-list trip!  But there are so many options, what is the best way to see Milford Sound?

Trips & Tramps have been operating in Milford Sound for over 30 years and being a small, locally owned business with guides who have lived and worked in the area, we know the best way to experience this amazing place.

Whether you are an active adventurer who loves to spend time in nature, or a traveller who prefers to take a more relaxed approach to exploring, Trips & Tramps has something for everyone.  We are often asked “which is better, the Milford Track Guided Day Walk or the Milford Sound Coach and Cruise?”  Well, we think they are both great but here are the key differences to help you decide which option is better for you.

Looking at Mitre Peak at Milford Sound

Making the right choice for you is important to ensure you have a great Milford Sound experience, whatever you are looking for! Credit: Will Patino

MILFORD TRACK & CRUISE

The Milford Track Guided Day Walk can choose to join our small coach from Te Anau, or drive yourselves to meet us at Milford Sound.  We depart Te Anau at 6.30am with a 2-hour drive into Milford Sound.  If you choose to meet us there, the check in time is 8.30 am.  We all take the 10-minute water taxi ride to Sandfly Point which is the end of the Milford Track.  The focus of this day is on walking on the world-famous Milford Track.  We spend about 4 hours on the track walking as far as the awesome Giant Gate Falls, along the cascading Arthur River and moody Lake Ada.  The Milford Track Guided Day Walk offers the chance for visitors to spend a good amount of time on NZ’s most popular Great Walk.  For nature lovers it is a great opportunity to enjoy ancient rain forest and encounter interesting native birds such as the weka, bellbird, tui, wood pigeon and occasionally the rare whio / blue duck.  On return to Milford Sound you have the option of including a 2 hour cruise on Milford Sound before finishing your day with us or returning to Te Anau about 5.30pm.  There may be a couple of short scenic stops on the way home as time allows.

Aerial photo of a waterfall on the Milford Track with people viewing on a swingbridge.

Discover the beautiful Miford Track from Milford Sound, hiking through the lush green forest.

MILFORD COACH, CRUISE & WALK

The Milford Sound Coach, Cruise and Walk tour is focussed on enjoying the scenic wonders of the Milford Road and a cruise on Milford Sound.  Many visitors to the area discover that the journey along the Milford Road is as awe inspiring as the end destination.  The small group Coach, Cruise & Walk tour departs Te Anau at 8am (or 8.30 am during the winter months).  On the way into Milford Sound, we make several scenic stops with the guide selecting the best stops according to the weather and the crowds.  As a point of difference on this trip we also deliver the mail and freight to the isolated communities and families along the Milford Road and in Milford Sound.  On arrival in Milford Sound, you take a 2-hour cruise including a hearty picnic lunch.  After the cruise we take a leisurely drive back to Te Anau including more scenic stops and some refreshing short walks, arriving back in Te Anau between 4.30 and 5pm.  An in-depth and personal commentary by your local guide will give you a deeper understanding of the area.  On this trip you get a feel for the harsh, but awe-inspiring mountain environment that the Milford Road traverses. 

Walking alongside lake with mountains in background

Enjoy the many wonders of the Milford Road, with lots of stops for short walks and photos. There is plenty to discover. Credit: Miles Holden

WHICH IS BEST FOR ME?

So, we know both are great options, so how to decide between the Milford Track Guided Day Walk and the Milford Sound Coach, Cruise & Walk? 

If you are an active adventurer who wants to spend a decent amount of time in the outdoors enjoying a walk on NZ’s finest Great Walk (distance covered 11 km return), lush rainforest and prolific birdlife then the Milford Track Guided Day Walk is probably the trip for you.  Of course, you can include a cruise if you wish afterwards, and you still journey along the Milford Road, so you won’t miss seeing the spectacular scenery.  If you go from Te Anau the trip is about 11 hours long. 

  • 4 hours walking time on Milford Track, 11 km walk on good track.
  • Optional extras Milford Cruise 2-hours, transport from Te Anau, lunch
  • Departs Te Anau, or Milford Sound

If you prefer to have a more leisurely day soaking up the scenery, whilst still having the chance to stretch your legs then the Milford Sound Coach, Cruise & Walk is for you.  Walks are in  a range of environments and no longer than 40 minutes at a leisurely pace on well-formed tracks.  The guide will craft the day around the weather, seasonal highlights and wishes of guests. We spend more time at scenic places and stop more often for comfort and photography opportunities.  It is suitable for all ages and abilities, offering a great introduction to the area.

  • 8.5-hour trip, walks range betwee 5-40 minutes in length.
  • Included in price is transport from Te Anau, 2-hour small boat cruise & picnic lunch.
  • Departs Te Anau only
You are interested in… The trip for you is…
Nature, nature, nature! Milford Track & Cruise
Active Adventuring Milford Track & Cruise
A leisurely day out Milford Sound Coach, Cruise & Walk
A shorter day Milford Sound Coach, Cruise & Walk
A trip from Milford Sound Milford Track & Cruise
A guided walk only Milford Track from Milford Sound or Te Anau
Maximum scenery Milford Sound Coach, Cruise & Walk
Small group Either
A local guide Either
Driving yourself to Milford Milford Track & Cruise from Milford
The best of the Milford Road Milford Sound Coach, Cruise & Walk
Making the most of Milford Sound Milford Track and Cruise
A family friendly trip Either
Hiking on a NZ great walk Milford Track
Shorter walks and different scenery Milford Sound Coach, Cruise & Walk
Lunch! Milford Sound Coach, Cruise & Walk lunch is included.  Milford Track (& Cruise) you can add an awesome hiking picnic (extra charge) or bring your own
Staying dry Milford Sound Coach, Cruise & Walk
Experincing any weather! Milford Track & Cruise

If you are still unsure, feel free to reach out and contact us, we are here to help you get the most out of your day!

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