The Top Family Activities in Milford Sound
What is the best way to experience Milford Sound with children? Well, pretty much the same as everyone else! The cruises are family-friendly, the flights are awesome and there are plenty of short walks that are easy and entertaining for the whole family. Just because you have the little ones in tow doesn’t mean you have to miss the majestic fiords, wonderful waterfalls and wildlife sightings. In fact, it enhances it to share the scenery with loved ones. So compile your family bucket list with these things to do in Milford Sound with kids.
1. Look Out for Wildlife and See Spectacular Waterfalls on a Milford Sound Cruise
Families are spoilt for choice once they reach the Milford Marina. There are several cruises to choose from, all loosely following the same route around Milford Sound and showing you the same towering peaks, valleys and taking a dip under Stirling Falls. With that in mind, we would recommend families select the cruise where they can find the best offer at the time…
Alternatively, if your kids are curious ones, you might want to select the Real Journeys Nature Cruise (see on Viator, Tripadvisor or Klook) with commentary on all of the amazing wildlife seen in Milford Sound. However, you may want to choose Southern Discoveries (find out more on Viator, Tripadvisor and Klook) for their cruise paired with an underwater observatory experience – more on that in point #7.
Finally, Mitre Peak Cruise is extremely family-friendly if you have young ones, as children under three years cruise for free. Check out Viator and Tripadvisor for more information on Mitre Peak Cruises. But that’s just three of your options. Compare them all in the 6 Best Cruises in Milford Sound.
Location: Cruises depart from the Milford Marina at the end of State Highway 94.
2. Fly Over the Fiord in a Scenic Flight
Another cool way to take in the glorious views of Milford Sound is via a helicopter tour. Milford Sound Helicopters (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor) departs from Milford Sound Airport, offering families several flight options, from their 25-minute flight climbing Mitre Peak and Bowen Falls to their 45-minute flight heading over Sutherland Falls and the Tutuko Glacier. Flights are suitable for all ages and infant seats are available. You also have a multitude of flight options from Queenstown and Te Anau, which eliminates that torturously long drive to Milford Sound. Check them out in the 5 Best Scenic Flights to Milford Sound from Queenstown.
Location: Milford Sound Airport, State Highway 94, Milford Sound.
3. Get Some Postcard Snaps Along the Milford Foreshore Walk
Suitable for all ages and strollers, the Milford Foreshore Walk gives you those iconic views of Mitre Peak (the highest peak in Milford Sound). You’ll also meander through beech forest until you reach the sandy foreshore where you can watch the boats go in and out and even spot a few native ducks. The walk takes approximately 30 minutes to complete. See more easy walks like this in the 11 Best Walks in Milford Sound.
Location: Starts at the main visitor car park of Milford Sound, State Highway 94, Milford Sound.
4. Stop by the Mirror Lakes
The Mirror Lakes Walk is an easy pitstop on the way to Milford Sound, a fully boarded walk showcasing a reflective lake and mountain views. While the walk is officially a 10-minute walk, it takes much less but most only admire the attraction for about 10 minutes. Watch the New Zealand scaup (diving ducks) duck under the reflective water’s surface and enjoy the views of the Earl Mountains. Check out more amazing sights along the Milford Sound Road in the 16 Stops You Can’t Miss on the Road to Milford Sound.
Location: State Highway 94, approximately 61km (38 miles) from Milford Sound.
5. Enjoy the Forest and Lake Scenery of the Lake Gunn Nature Walk
Another one to enjoy on your way in or out of Milford Sound, the Lake Gunn Nature Walk is a 45-minute loop walk. It takes you through magnificent red beech forest to the shores of Lake Gunn with spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. While wandering between the moss-covered trees, keep an eye out for native birds like riflemen, tomtits and more.
Location: Cascade Creek car park, State Highway 94, approximately 43km (27 miles) from Milford Sound.
6. Check Out the Underwater Observatory
An alternative and interesting way to experience Milford Sound with kids is at the underwater observatory with Southern Discoveries (find out more on Viator, Tripadvisor and Klook), only accessed as an add-on on the Southern Discoveries’ cruise. Tucked away in Harrison Cove, the underwater observatory is New Zealand’s only floating observatory, taking you 64 steps down to a viewing chamber some 10m (30ft) under the water. Due to Milford Sound’s dark waters, it gives you a unique opportunity to see black coral species that are usually only seen in deepsea trenches. See snake stars and starfish as your guide gives commentary on Milford Sound’s fragile marine life.
Location: Southern Discoveries cruises depart from the Milford Marina at the end of State Highway 94.
7. See Spectacular Waterfalls on the Lake Marian Falls Track
Although not stroller-friendly, the Lake Marian Falls Track is easy enough for kids to walk taking 20 minutes to complete. Kids love crossing the cool swingbridge to see a spectacular series of cascading waterfalls. The Lake Marian Track continues from here, which is three hours return but is steep and sometimes muddy – perhaps better suited to older children who enjoy hiking.
Location: Lake Marian car park, Hollyford Road, approximately 32km (20 miles) from Milford Sound.
8. Enjoy a Stroll to Peaceful Lake Mistletoe
Easily accessed from the Milford Road more toward the Te Anau end, the Lake Mistletoe Track is a 45-minute return walk to a small picturesque lake. You might be lucky to see New Zealand scaup (those diving ducks again!), frogs and other wetland wildlife. Learn more about your journey on the Milford Road with The Guide to Milford Sound and the Milford Road.
Location: State Highway 94, approximately 90km (56 miles) from Milford Sound.
9. Experience Milford Sound by Kayak
For more adventurous families, get out on the water on a Milford Sound kayaking tour! Kids aged eight years and up can join in on the fun on Rosco’s Milford Kayaks‘ two-hour Milford Cruiser tour, which is one of the more relaxed paddles in the fiord. You’ll team up in a double kayak and head over to Lady Bowen Falls, which is the tallest waterfall in Milford Sound! Note that other kayak tours in Milford Sound tend to have an age limit of 14 or 16 years old. Check out reviews and book tours on Viator and Tripadvisor.
Location: Deepwater Basin Road, approximately 1km (0.6 miles) from Milford Sound.
10. Take the Ferry and Walk Up to Lady Bowen Falls
A short (and more affordable) boating adventure for the family is the ferry and walk combo to Lady Bowen Falls. The Bowen Falls Walk, Milford Sound’s hidden gem, is accessed via a short ferry ride from the Visitors Terminal at the Milford Marina. The boat trip gives you access to a 30-minute experience (ferry included), meandering through native bush and beech trees until you reach a viewing area of Milford Sound’s highest waterfall, Lady Bowen Falls at 162m (530ft) high. See more cheap experiences like this in the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Milford Sound.
Location: The ferry departs from the Milford Marina at the end of State Highway 94.
[CLOSED] Check Out the Dramatic Formations of The Chasm
[Update: The Chasm is closed due to flood damage. Get the latest updates about the walk on the DOC website].
On your way in or out of Milford Sound, stop by The Chasm Walk, which takes you over several footbridges to admire a chasm carved deep into the Cleddau River. There are all sorts of water-sculpted shapes to spot on this walk that keeps kids interested for the whole 20 minutes it takes to do. What’s more, it’s stroller accessible.
Location: State Highway 94, approximately 10km (6 miles) from Milford Sound.
More Things to Do in Milford Sounds with Kids
That’s it for our official list of things to do in Milford Sound with kids. For more experiences to choose from, take a look at the following guides:
- 10 Best Milford Sound Tours from Queenstown & Te Anau
- 5 Best Luxury Experiences in Milford Sound
- The Complete Travel Guide to Milford Sound
Finally, get inspired for more experiences around the country with our 20 Best Things to Do on the South Island with Kids and 50 Best Things to Do in New Zealand with Kids.