Hiking at Milford Sound

1 Aug 2019

Milford Sound is a truly special place to visit and often on people’s itinerary when they visit New Zealand.  It is worth the effort to travel to this far flung place in the south-west corner of Te Wahipounamu, a UNESCO World Heritage site, with its incredible scenery. Created by glaciers the remote landscape is characterized by steep mountain sides, lush rain-forest, thundering water and a vast sea mass. Milford Sound really is the best of nature’s elements crafted to perfection!

This wild environment has limited areas suitable for human activity, making hiking at Milford Sound tricky, but it is still possible in a few places. Here are the 3 walks available for visitors to Milford Sound wanting to explore by foot.

Milford Sound Foreshore Walk

Wander along the sandy foreshore of Milford Sound, and through beech forest on this easy-going track, suitable for all abilities and ages (including wheelchairs).  The track is a 400-meter loop, with the highlight being a classic Milford Sound viewpoint looking directly towards Mitre Peak.  Whatever the weather and time of day, this hike is a memorable ‘must-do’ when visiting Milford Sound. There are also information panels along the trail, so you can learn about the area along the way.

Mitre Peak in the background with visitors on viewing platform at Milford Sound

The viewpoint on the Milford Sound Foreshore track offers a classic view of Mitre Peak

Bowen Falls Walk

Hike to see the beautiful Lady Bowen Falls, and feel the powerful water spray as you venture close to it's base. Accessed via a short boat ride ($10 Adult and $5 child, purchased at the boat terminal) this easy-going walk is a great 30-minute adventure.  The purpose-built track takes you through unique native coastal forest where sea and forest birds can be encountered. Iconic Mitre Peak is also visible on the other side of the fiord, making it a wonderful walk at Milford Sound.

Lady Bowen Falls waterfall at Milford Sound being photographed by a man in a red coat

Usually photographed from a boat, you can enjoy a short hike to see Lady Bowen Falls from land.

Milford Track

This is arguably New Zealand’s most famous hiking track and it ends at Sandfly Point, Milford Sound. Sandfly Point is accessible only by boat on a guided trip, so you have the place pretty much to yourself! Plus, your friendly Trips & Tramps guide will ensure plenty of stories and good natured, kiwi banter along the way. For the active traveler who wants to step into Milford Sound’s vast wilderness and experience the area on foot, this ½ day, 11 km, mostly flat hike is a wonderful option.  From the bird song in the trees, and encounters with the curious native weka, to the lush greens of the rain-forest creating a very scenic backdrop, this hike has it all. Find out more here.

Arthur River view point looking down towards Milford Sound

Hiking alongside the Arthur River on the Milford Track with views looking back towards Milford Sound

Local Top Tips for hiking at Milford Sound

There are a couple of tips if you are planning to hike at Milford Sound to ensure a memorable, enjoyable and safe experience.

  1. Milford Sound sees a lot of rain each year, so come prepared for this with a good rain jacket. When rain is forecast even go as far as having a change of clothes for after your walk!
  2. Stick to the marked tracks. With the steep cliff faces and dense bush this is no place to venture off trail whatever your hiking experience.
  3. Keep moving, once you stop sandflies can be a problem. Bring some insect repellent, cover your skin with light coloured clothing, and don't plan a picnic along the way.

So, if hiking at Milford Sound is on your itinerary you will see it is possible but there is not heaps of options. The Milford Road between Te Anau and Milford Sound offers many more hiking opportunities of varied length, to find out more download the Department of Conservation Fiordland Day Walk brochure, or for a guided option in Fiordland see our guided day walk selection.

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