The Guide to Milford Sound for Families

© Southern Discoveries

Plan a Family Trip to Milford Sound

It’s one of the most majestic scenes in New Zealand: the towering glacier-carved fiords, streams of waterfalls, the dense jungles of the Fiordland forest and home to wildlife like seals, penguins and the world’s only alpine parrot. There’s no wonder why Milford Sound is on your bucket list, but what’s the best way to experience it with kids? The answer is “like most people”. Taking a cruise, a scenic flight or even going for a walk: they are all family-friendly options. Major things to consider, however, is how to get to Milford Sound. Think about whether taking a bus tour, flight or tackling the long drive yourself is the best option. Find more details in The Complete Guide to Milford Sound.

So plan the activities and the best sights to see with the kids in this complete travel guide to Milford Sound for families.

Things to Do in Milford Sound with Kids

  • Look out for wildlife and see spectacular waterfalls on a Milford Sound cruise
  • Fly over the fiord in a scenic flight
  • Get some postcard snaps along the Milford Foreshore Walk
  • Check out the dramatic views of The Chasm
  • Stop by the Mirror Lakes
  • Enjoy the forest and lake scenery of the Lake Gunn Nature Walk
  • Check out the underwater observatory
  • See spectacular waterfalls on the Lake Marian Falls Track
  • Enjoy a peaceful stroll on the Lake Mistletoe Track
  • Experience Milford Sound by kayak.

For more details on each activity, check out the 10 Things to Do in Milford Sound with Kids.

The Guide to Milford Sound for Families© Tourism Holdings - Tourism New Zealand

Family Adventure Activities

Families can embrace the iconic Milford Sound scenery – with its glacier-carved fiords and tumbling waterfalls – by land, sea and air. An accessible activity for all is the ever-popular Milford Sound cruise.

Families are spoilt for choice once they reach the Milford Marina. There are several cruises to choose from, all pretty much 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 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 with commentary on all of the amazing wildlife seen in Milford Sound. However, you may want to choose Southern Discoveries for their cruise paired with an underwater observatory experience – more on that in the section below. Compare all of your options in the 6 Best Cruises in Milford Sound.

Another cool way to take in the glorious views of Milford Sound is via a helicopter tour. Milford Sound Helicopters 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 lengthy drive to Milford Sound. Check them out in the 5 Best Scenic Flights to Milford Sound from Queenstown.

For more adventurous families, get out on the water in a Milford Sound kayaking tour! Kids aged eight years and up can join in on the fun on Roscoe’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.

For more family adventures, check out the 10 Things to Do in Milford Sound with Kids.

The Guide to Milford Sound for Families© Southern Discoveries

All-weather Family Activities

Even if it’s raining, don’t let that deter you from going on a cruise! Just zip up your rain jacket (and have some spare clothes handy) and head out on the front deck! Embrace the rain and enjoy the onslaught of temporary waterfalls snaking their way down the mountains. It’s all part of the charm in what is one of the wettest places on earth!

A rainy day can also be a good reason to check out Milford Sound’s underwater observatory with Southern Discoveries, 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 otherwise can only usually be seen in sea trenches. See snake stars and starfish as your guide gives commentary on Milford Sound’s fragile marine life.

The Guide to Milford Sound for Families© NZPocketGuide.com

Free Family Activities

Finally, another way to experience Milford Sound is on your own two feet. So tie up your’s and the kids’ hiking shoes and enjoy some of the short and easy walks around Milford Sound.

On your way to Milford Sound, stop by the walks with a flat gradient that are stroller-accessible and offer stunning features of nature, such as the Lake Gunn Nature Walk. This 45-minute loop walk takes you through magnificent red beech forest to the shores of Lake Gunn with spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. The Mirror Lakes Walk (10 minutes loop) is an easy pitstop on the way to Milford Sound, a fully boarded walk showcasing a reflective lake and mountain views. The Chasm (20 minutes return) is also stroller-friendly, taking you over several footbridges to admire a chasm carved deep into the Cleddau River.

And while not stroller-friendly, walks like the Lake Marian Falls Track (20 minutes return) is easy enough for kids to walk, taking you across a cool swingbridge to see a spectacular series of waterfalls. And easily accessed from the Milford Road, the Lake Mistletoe Track is a peaceful 45-minute return walk where you might be lucky to see New Zealand scaup (diving duck), frogs and other wetland wildlife.

For more walks in the area, check out the 11 Milford Sound Walks You Can’t Miss. We detail more family-friendly walks in the 10 Things to Do in Milford Sound with Kids.

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