It is estimated that there are up to 1 million tourists who visit the area each year. Milford Sound is very remote - it is 120 kilometres from the nearest town, Te Anau, and 300 kilometres from Queenstown.
Highway 94 is the highest and most scenic state highway in New Zealand.The road is mountainous and vehicles must go through the Homer Tunnel - a man made marvel. The tunnel is 1.2 kilometres long and is wide enough for one lane of traffic. Traffic lights at each end control the flow of vehicles and, during peak times, the wait can be a little bit lengthy.
The drive in to Milford is spectacular - almost as breathtaking as the destination. It's easy to see why many scenes from Lord of the Rings were filmed in the South Island.
Milford Sound (Piopiotahi in Māori) is named after Milford Haven in Wales and is located on the west coast of the South Island in the Fiordland National Park. The National Park covers an area of over 1.2 million hectares and is a World Heritage site.
The river that flows into the sound, the Cleddau River, also has it's name origins from Wales.
The Māori named the Sound Piopiotahi after the now extinct thrush-like piopio bird.
Milford Sound was carved by glaciers during the ice ages. The cliffs rise vertically from the water and waterfalls, some as high as 1000 metres, create a breathtaking experience.
When it rains on the west coast it really rains. It is one of the wettest places in the world. Rain falls for an average of 189 days per year and the west coast receives up to 7 metres of rain each year. The rain creates hundreds of waterfalls within the Sound but even when it is dry there are 2 permanent waterfalls that are magnificent.
They are the Lady Bowen Falls and Stirling Falls and they flow all year round.
Visitors to Milford Sound really should consider a boat cruise to see the sound at it's best. Cruises operate all year round and vary in the size of boat, the cruise length and experience types.
Cruises will take you up close and personal to a waterfall. Stay outdoors and let the spray drench you - it's exhilarating! My tip is to cover your camera though - you don't want to lose your precious photos of this amazing place.
The second of two permanent waterfalls in Milford Sound. The waterfall drops 155 metres and is fed by glaciers in the mountain behind.
Mt Kimberley (or The Lion)
Is 1302 metres high and gets it's nickname from its shape that resembles a crouching lion.
Faces away from the entrance to the fiord and is the only safe natural harbour in Milford Sound.
A visit to Milford Sound should be on everyones travel list. The options of what to do and see are varied and very easy to book. You can drive yourself or jump on a bus and let someone else do the driving.
My wife and I went on a cruise of Milford Sound in 2013. The area is breathtaking, as is the drive there. I have a photo of part of it as my wallpaper on my PC. If you go to NZ, don't miss out on a trip there.