Exploring The Sound

To be fully appreciated, Milford Sound must be seen from the deck of one of the cruise vessels. Real Journeys, Lakefront Drive, Te Anau (® 0800/656-502 in NZ, or 03/249-7416; www.realjourneys.co.nz), operates a bewildering array of cruises—both daytime and overnight options. Prices differ depending on whether you join the activity in Queenstown, in Te Anau, or at Milford Sound, and whether you have coach, car, fixed-wing, or helicopter connections. A popular day option is the Coach, Nature (or Scenic) Cruise, and Flight, which departs Queenstown at 6:45am and returns at 4pm; the cost is NZ$470 (US$259) scenic cruise or NZ$425 (US$234) nature cruise for adults, NZ$278 (US$153) scenic cruise or NZ$248 (US$136) nature cruise for children. If you go coach both ways, don't expect to be back in Queenstown until around 8pm, but also be aware that flights in and out of Milford are completely weather dependent and you may have to bus it if your flight is cancelled.

You can overnight on Milford Sound in Real Journey's Milford Mariner, which features 30 en-suite cabins and includes kayaking and trips in tender vessels, a three-course buffet, and breakfast; rates are NZ$360 ($151) for adults, NZ$180 ($76) for children. The Milford Wanderer sleeps 61 in quad-share bunk-style compartments; NZ$295 (US$162) twin share for adults, NZ$147.50 (US$81) twin share for children. The M.V. Friendship sleeps 12 in backpacker-style accommodations; NZ$195 (US$107) for adults, NZ$97.50 (US$54) for children, from October through April.

Milford Sound Red Boat Cruises (® 0800/264-536 in NZ, or 03/441-1137; www.redboats.co.nz) has been a tradition here since 1957. It has four boats operating day cruises only. The cost of NZ$46 to $60 (US$25-$33) for adults and NZ$12 (US$6.60) for children gets you a cruise lasting 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Walking is another marvelous activity in this area if you have the time. The Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre in Te Anau (see "Te Anau," earlier in this

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