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Milford Sound Cruises

Once you’ve arrived at Milford Sound, the best way to see the fiord in all its glory is by boarding a cruise and getting out on the water. Milford Sound cruises must be experienced to be believed. The stunning sheer cliffs surrounding you, the inky blackness of the water and the frosty alpine peaks looming over it all combine to create a stunning tableau.

There are Milford Sound cruises departing throughout the day, giving you the chance to experience the fiord in all its different guises. However, most cruises depart in the middle of the day or the afternoon, allowing time to travel from Queenstown or Te Anau.

Choosing a cruise can be daunting, given the wide range of types of Milford Sound cruises and different operators to choose from. We’ve gathered some information to make it easier to research and book your Milford Sound cruise.

Getting to Milford Sound from Queenstown takes approximately 3.5 hrs and a professional coach tour is highly recommended for visitors not familiar with driving in icy alpine conditions. We’ve collated some of the most popular Milford Sound day tours here and prices start from just $179 including the cruise.

Milford Sound cruise

Day Cruises

Experience a daylight cruise on Milford Sound for amazing views of the fiord and its wildlife. Day cruises can easily be incorporated into your travel plans and are included in most Milford Sound day tours .

Sightseeing Tour Coach

Cruise + Day Tour

Getting to Milford from Queenstown takes round 4hours each way so consider leaving the driving to a local expert and sit back and relax as you travel through the rugged and winding Milford Road. Tours to Milford Sound from Queenstown and Te Anau depart daily and offer a range of options to suit travelling styles and budgets. All tours combine the cruise in Milford Sound and many include a lunch option. You’ll also get plenty of opportunities to stop for those iconic photographs en-route and the local drivers provide great commentary to keep you entertained throughout the day.

Milford Sound overnight cruise

Overnight Cruises

Selected tour companies offer overnight cruises in Milford Sound. This can be a great way to experience the fiord at its most peaceful – in the evening and first thing in the morning, before the day trippers arrive. Milford Sound overnight cruises can include dinner and breakfast as well as transport to and from Milford Sound. If you have limited time to view Milford Sound you may wish to choose a day tour instead.

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7 Best Cruises in Milford Sound 🏔️ [2023]

Milford sound cruise comparison: the best milford sound cruises.

You haven’t been to Milford Sound until you have cruised through its majestic fiord. A cruise in Milford Sound is on almost everybody’s bucket list when travelling New Zealand, but the decision fatigue from choosing a cruise is not what you need on your holiday. Let us reassure you that whatever Milford Sound cruise you choose, you won’t be missing out on anything. Every single day cruise in Milford Sound is around two hours on the water, all of which take almost the same route around the fiord. Whatever cruise you take, you’ll see all of the highlights that we feature in 11 Stunning Sights Seen From a Milford Sound Cruise . However, there are some minor differences between cruises that might make your decision-making a little easier. Take a look at our list of the best Milford Sound cruises below to find your perfect tour.

All of the cruises listed below depart from the Milford Sound Marina . If you’re looking for a cruise and transport, take a look at our 10 Best Milford Sound Tours from Queenstown & Te Anau or the 5 Best Scenic Flights to Milford Sound from Queenstown .

1. RealNZ Nature Cruise – The Best Milford Sound Cruise for Nature Lovers

Kicking off our list of the best Milford Sound cruises is the RealNZ Nature Cruise . RealNZ offers the widest range of cruises in Milford Sound, but one of their best offerings is their Nature Cruise. Onboard a characterful ship complete with masts (just like the early explorers of this fiord), you’ll journey through the sounds while receiving insightful commentary from your nature guide. The tour hits all the waterfalls and mountain views of any Milford Sound cruise, as well as having a focus on spotting wildlife. Find out more about the RealNZ Nature Cruise on Viator , Tripadvisor or Klook .

2. Southern Discoveries Cruise and Underwater Observatory – The Best Milford Sound Cruise Package

The next cruise on our list of the best Milford Sound cruises includes an underwater observatory. Offering some of the best value-for-money packages for Milford Sound cruises, Southern Discoveries is definitely worth considering if you want to pair your cruise with a visit to their Milford Sound Underwater Observatory or incorporate some kayaking into your experience as an add-on. After a two-hour cruise through Milford Sound, with a picnic lunch included, you’ll get to experience a unique view of Milford Sound and its black coral from the underwater observatory.

Find out more about additional experiences that Southern Discoveries offers in our 10 Milford Sound Must-Dos . Plus, check out the full tour details with Southern Discoveries on Viator , Tripadvisor and Klook .

3. Mitre Peak Cruises – The Best Milford Sound Cruise for Families (and the Cheapest)

Offering a smaller boat experience in Milford Sound, Mitre Peak Cruises is well worth considering if you want to share your cruise with fewer people. The cruise captures all the major highlights of Milford Sound from a smaller vessel to make the landscapes feel all the grander. Tour guides look out for dolphin, seal and penguin encounters for you, while you soak up the scenery and enjoy the free tea and coffee onboard. This is also a good option for families, as children under three years cruise for free making Mitre Peak Cruises one of the best family options when it comes to Milford Sound boat cruises.

Check out Viator and Tripadvisor for more information on Mitre Peak Cruises. Plus, plan a family trip to Milford using 10 Things to Do in Milford Sound with Kids .

4. Cruise Milford – The Best Small-Ship Milford Sound Cruise

If you’re the type of traveller who prefers to escape the crowds, then take a serious look at Cruise Milford . The boutique cruise limits its passenger numbers to 50% of the boat’s capacity, so their cruises never feel too crowded. It’s smooth sailing on this catamaran vessel (they also have a smaller monohull boat) that stops at all the essential Milford Sound sights , allows for wildlife encounters and offers complimentary tea, coffee and biscuits on board. Check out the glowing reviews and book your cruise on Viator , Tripadvisor , Klook or KKday .

5. RealNZ Milford Mariner Overnight Cruise – The Best Overnight Cruise Cruise in Milford Sound

Once you discover Milford Sound, it can be difficult to leave. So spend an extra night in this wilderness paradise on an overnight cruise with RealNZ ! The Milford Mariner Overnight Cruise takes you down the entire length of Milford Sound before anchoring at Harrison Cove. Enjoy a three-course buffet meal, make use of the onboard kayaks, listen to the onboard nature guide, and stay in a private single or twin-share en suite cabin. Check out the tour details on Klook , Viator and  Tripadvisor .

6. Fiordland Discovery – The Best Luxury Milford Sound Cruise

Don’t just do an overnight cruise in Milford Sound, do a multi-day discovery tour of several fiords of the Fiordland National Park with Fiordland Discovery . Their multi-day cruise is a small-group experience where you’ll stay on the lavish Fiordland Jewel with its climate-controlled ensuite cabins. Your stay includes cruises of multiple fiords (not just Milford Sound), three-course meals, kayaking, tender boat trips, as well as soaking in the topdeck outdoor spa pool. The boat also has a helicopter landing pad, giving you options for cruise-and-flight combos. See more experiences like this in the 5 Best Luxury Experiences in Milford Sound .

Location: Tours depart from the Milford Marina in Milford Sound, Te Anau or from Queenstown, Glenorchy, Wanaka or Te Anau via helicopter.

7. JUCY Cruise – The Best Milford Cruise for Morning Sailings

This cruise with JUCY Cruise tends to offer one of the most affordable cruises on Milford Sound when sailing earlier in the day. The 1h30min cruise takes you to all the photo-worthy spots of Milford Sound, including a dip under Stirling Falls, before transporting you back to the marina. There’s live commentary to listen to onboard, complimentary tea and the boat often is (or feels) a lot less crowded than other Milford Sound cruises, especially in the morning. This makes JUCY Milford Sound boat cruise an extremely popular option. Learn more and book your cruise on Viator , Tripadvisor or Klook .

[CLOSED] Go Orange Cruise

Looking to cruise Milford Sound without breaking the bank? Another super affordable way to see the sound is with Go Orange. Enjoy two hours on the water soaking in the views of Stirling and Bowen Falls, Mitre Peak, Seal Rock and much more. Learn about the landscape you are sailing through from your onboard guide. Relax on the bean bags, picnic tables and deck chairs with a craft beer or treat in hand from the onboard bar.

More About Milford Sound

That’s it for our guide the best cruises in Milford Sound. Get more advice on planning the perfect trip with the following articles:

  • 10 Best Accommodations in Milford Sound
  • 10 Milford Sound Walks You Can’t Miss
  • 15 Stops You Can’t Miss on the Road to Milford Sound

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor in chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in New Zealand over 10 years ago and with a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to travel New Zealand. She knows Aotearoa inside-out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience New Zealand’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also editor of several other South Pacific travel guides and is the co-host of NZ Pocket Guide’s live New Zealand travel Q&As on YouTube.

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    This Milford Sound Scenic Cruise costs $112 NZD per person and includes complimentary tea and coffee onboard. Children under three can ride for free, and the boat holds a maximum of 65 people. Make sure to check in 30 minutes before departure to secure your spot on the ship.

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    We’ve collated some of the most popular Milford Sound day tours here and prices start from just $179 including the cruise. Book a cruise Book a day trip from $179 Day Cruises Experience a daylight cruise on Milford Sound for amazing views of the fiord and its wildlife.

  3. 7 Best Cruises in Milford Sound ️ [2023]

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