Milford Sound is by far the best known of the fiords, and the only one that can be reached by road.
Wet or fine, Milford Sound is incredibly grand and a cruise on the Fiord is highly recommended to both New Zealanders and overseas visitors. It is difficult to describe just how impressive and special this World Heritage Area is, words seem inadequate to communicate the feeling of awe that visitors commonly feel while standing, completely dwarfed by towering bluffs and peaks and surrounded by the beauty of the natural landscape and crystal clear waters that are so abundant in Fiordland. Visitors to Milford Sound will not be disapointed. It is truly spectacular, with scenery that has remained unchanged throughout the ages. Photographers and anyone who appeciates the power and beauty of nature should definitely experience Fiordland up close and in person.
Another unique feature of the Fiordland environment is life under the fiord. Beneath the water, the mountains continue to plunge down as steep rock walls until they reach the floor of the fiord at depths of 100-450m. Few visitors are aware that below the tide line there exists a fascinating and unique world. A fresh water layer that sits on top of the seawater filters light to allow normally deep water dwelling species to exist very close to the surface. A visit to the Milford Discovery Centre and Underwater Observatory or a guided dive tour allows access to sights rarely revealed to human visitors.
There is a ten minute walk from the main visitor carpark to the boat departure terminal and information area (there is a dedicated coach parking area directly out side the terminal for tour operators only). However, a free bus completes a circuit between the airstrip, cafe, car park and the departure terminal. Visitors driving their own vehicle (particularly those with passengers with mobility issues, ederly passengers or travelling with very young children may prefer to drive up to the termainal set down area and drop off their passengers before returning to the main car park to park their vehicle and walking to the terminal to meet their group.
When the historic glaciers carved Milford Sound out of the surrounding rock, there was only a little flat land created at the current site of the Milford Sound village, this limited area is the reason that the Milford village has not grown large and has only limited services. It is also the reason why the car park is a short walk from the boat terminal.
Visitors need to be aware that there are no shops in Milford. The Blue Duck Cafe offers dining options, alternatively lunches can be pre-ordered from all the boat tour operators or visit the Te Anau cafes, bakery or supermarket Deli before departing Te Anau.