Country/Town Visited: Milford Sound Tour, New Zealand
Date of stay: January 2014
Tour or pre planned: Pre planned

We had never been to the Milford Sound before but had always wanted to go. We’d heard how it can be difficult to get to the Sound or have a good experience as it is very much weather dependent.

So our plan was to book a day tour through (booking agent for a number of companies). Our tour cost $479 per adult and was a fly, cruise fly deal through Air Wakatipu. Basically this means you take a flight from Queenstown airport to the Milford Sound, then board a boat for a 1 & 1/2 hour cruise around the sound then fly back to Queenstown airport.

We had used Queenstown as our base to see the sights. On arrival we were greeted by cold, wet and windy conditions. Certainly not what we were expecting given that it was the middle of summer. We were quite worried we’d miss out on seeing the Sound. The morning of the tour we called Air Wakatipu to arrange our complimentary pick up and confirm the tour was still going ahead and fortunately luck was on our side. The day of our flight the weather could not have been better.

Air Wakatipu run a number of flights to the sound daily. Although we were told they had not been able to take tours for almost 3 & half weeks due to the weather conditions. The stats were something like 150 days per year that tours run. There’s also the option to take a bus tour but that takes about 8 hours from Queenstown (there and back), so the half hour flight from Queenstown is great if you’re short on time. Our friends have done the bus tour and have said that the scenery on the way there and back is certainly worth the extra time if you can.

PictureStanding by our plane (cessna ZK-ETN)
We had a 6 seater cessna, (the ZK-ETN) which looked small but seated the 5 of us quite comfortably (6 including the pilot). Our pilot was very informative and pointed out different land marks during the flight. Everyone has a headset to hear the commentary and safety equipment before departure.

The flight from Queenstown takes you over the Southern Alps providing amazing views of snow capped mountains, waterfalls and glaciers. As you climb up over the mountains you may experience some turbulence but nothing too crazy.

Our pilot escorted us from the small airport to the coach which took us to the Information/booking centre and boat tours (around 5 minute drive) The info centre was packed and being one of the best days in sometime you could understand why. The boat cruise takes you to the mouth of the sound where it meets the Tasman Sea and does a complete loop past countless waterfalls and mountains with commentary throughout with the history of the area. The sights are amazing and we were lucky enough to see a couple of seal colonies sunning on the rocks and a pod of dolphins. It’s such a magical spot and you really need to experience it at least once in your lifetime. At one point the boat took us extremely close to a large waterfall for some close up photos but beware of the mist, it will hit you fast and drench you. 

Overall we had an amazing time. Air Wakatipu have a number of other tours and these can be booked directly through their website.  Any questions feel free to comment below.

Top Tips: Don’t have a big breakfast before the flight, it can get a little bumpy which could upset your stomach and make sure you pack some mosquito repellent.

Rating system
Would you recommend this destination: Yes
Would you recommend your tour:  Yes  – Fly, cruise, fly tour with Air Wakatipu (
Overall rating destination:  5 out of 5

By: Nick & Jackie

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05/02/2014 19:03

Wow this looks so amazing - such a beautiful country. I will definately be visiting!

Claire Griffin
15/09/2015 12:26

We took a Glacier Southern Lakes Helicopter from Quuenstown to Milford Sound. Excellent service with collection from hotel to drop off at completion of tour. My husband and I were lucky that we were the only guests on the flight across the magical mountains to land at Milford Sound Airport. Courtesy shuttle to wharf and only a short wait before we boarded and started cruising for 1.5 hours. Spectacular cliff formations, seals and Australia in the far distance. Wonderfully constructed tour and our chopper pilot Brendon was so competent with his flying, I wasn't scared. All round 5 stars


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