So you’re going to Queenstown, and everyone keeps going on about how much you absolutely *must see* Milford Sound.
I mean, I’m not here to disagree with them.
It’s pretty stunning.
But the question is, how should you get there? Well, there are four main transport options you can choose from. Starting from least expensive to most:
Self-drive ¦¦ If you have access to a car, the easiest way to get to Milford Sound might be to just drive it yourself. You just have to pay for petrol and snacks and you’re good to go. I hear the scenery along the way is breathtaking, and you’ll be able to stop, get out, and take photos to your heart’s content. Things to bear in mind are that it’s at least a 4 hour drive each way – as the crow flies it’s not a large distance, but the road has to skirt the mountains. It makes for a lot of driving in a day, so make sure to not drive tired and check the road conditions before you go and throughout the journey.
This option is hard to cost because I don’t know how many snacks you want to buy but using some consultancy-grade back of a napkin calculations I reckon fuel would run you about $120 NZD for the return trip. Bear in mind that’s for a whole car full of people so if you can pack ’em in your cost per person decreases nicely. Oh and don’t forget petrol ain’t that cheap in Queenstown. Neither are snacks. Just sayin’.
Coach ¦¦ Again this is a long drive, but with the benefit of not having to do any of the actual driving yourself. If you’re lucky you may even get some food thrown in with this option. However, it’s still a long trip and you don’t have the benefit of being able to choose your own adventure – when the bus departs, how often you stop, etc. Nano did the coach on the way to Milford Sound and said they had a great driver who stopped as often as they wanted so she could get her photos, so that’s encouraging.
You’re looking at around $100 NZD per person for this option. There seem to be special offers around for coach trips so do shop around.
Small plane ¦¦ You can get to Milford Sound in just 40 minutes if you fly – which makes this a very appealing option. In addition to the chance to see the beautiful scenery of New Zealand from above, this is a true ‘experience’ and not just a day trip. The negatives being you’re in a very small plane (seats 10 max) so if you’re not a keen flyer this isn’t the trip for you. Flights are also liable to be cancelled if the weather turns – so either you can have your whole trip cancelled or you are put on a coach for the return journey. I don’t know how common this is, just be aware it could happen.
Now, this option ain’t cheap. You’re looking at around the $400 NZD per person mark, give or take. Everyone seems to charge around this so I’d pick the operator based on quality of experience, convenience, etc. Note this price doesn’t include actually landing in Milford Sound – it’s just a flight over. If you want to land and do some sort of tour it’s an extra $80-100 NZD or so.
You can also mix and match a plane trip with a coach ride although this actually ends up being more expensive than just taking one mode of transport. I wouldn’t have expected that so do bear it in mind.
Helicopter ¦¦ If you want to go all out, you can go for the helicopter experience. I believe this included a couple of landings in scenic places on the way – places a plane wouldn’t be able to access. I’m not certain on that one though so do check with your operator of choice.
We were quoted an eye watering $950 NZD per person for this option. I’ve also seen companies where you can have a private helicopter tour, but I dread to think what the cost of that one would have been.
Add-ons ¦¦ Once you get to Milford Sound, you can choose from a variety of activities. Most people will go for a cruise, which I highly recommend. I loved seeing the Sound from the actual water, and we got to see some great wildlife along the way, too. As I mention above, it’s only an extra $80ish NZD for this option which personally I found well worth it. We also saw people out kayaking on the lake which looked pretty cool.
We decided to take the easy cruise option around Milford Sound, but if I were to go back again I think I’d look into doing a kayak tour. Because how cool does this look?! They must have been able to get so close to stuff. Like these waterfalls. Maybe not so easy to take photos from a kayak without risking drowning your camera, but I’d say it would be worth it.⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #panasonic #kayaks #kayakadventures #lumixlife #wearestillwild #moodygrams #adventureanywhere #agameoftones #getoutstayout #liveauthentic #awesomeearth #createexplore #theoutbound #adventureculture #letsgosomewhere #wildernessculture #whereLUMIXgoes #liveoutdoors #exploreeverything #beautifuldestinations #worldpics #dametraveller #wearetravelgirls #outdoorwomen #wildernessbabes #ladiesgoneglobal #anestingnomad #girlsvsglobe #girlslovetravel #sheisnotlost
So what did we pick?
It’s probably obvious, but we chose to fly-cruise-fly to Milford Sound – in a small plane, not a helicopter! We went with Milford Sound Scenic Flights and had a brilliant experience. Here we are inside the plane – every seat is a window seat (although choose carefully, many have an obstructed view thanks to those pesky wings):
The flight went without a hitch, our guide was super friendly and nice, and the cruise was on a smaller boat than the rest which personally I preferred. The only thing I’d say is don’t bother paying extra for the lunch on board the cruise option. It wasn’t worth it – bring your own. Other than that, I can certainly say that flying to Milford Sound is worth it and it’s a trip I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to a friend.
Have you been to Milford Sound? How did you get there? Can you handle small planes…?