Mitre Peak Cruises - Review, exploring Milford Sound

A scenic cruise on the picturesque Milford Sound is a spellbinding and moving experience. Piopiotahi, meaning "Place of the singing thrush", in the Maori language, is an impressive Fiord located within the Fiordland National Park in the southwestern part of New Zealand's South Island. The boats operated by Mitre Peak Cruises offer a perfect way to explore this spectacular area in comfort and safety, and their relatively small size, around 20-metres, allows a close-up and personal experience.

Formed by glacier action during the ice ages, the Fiord measures 16-kilometres from the head to the open ocean, and the area offers breath-taking natural beauty. Milford Sound scenic cruises rank as one of New Zealand's top tours for both local and foreign visitors. Rudyard Kipling called the Sound the eighth wonder of the world, and the sheer craggy rock faces which rise starkly up out of the water definitely live up to the hype. The hanging valleys with waterfalls, the cold deep waters and the dense forest full of wildlife offer a truly memorable experience.

 Southern Alps mountain range

 The spectacular backdrop of the Southern Alps mountain range (Photo credit Mitre Peak Cruises)

Mitre Peak Cruises begin and end their cruises at the Milford Sound Visitor Terminal and the cruising time is 2-hours. Packages for Milford Sound tours from Queenstown and Te Anau are available if you wish to avoid driving the Milford road which is windy and steep and not for a fainthearted driver. The two purpose built vessels are specially designed for maximum cruising comfort and safety on the Milford waters, which in some points reach a depth of 400-metres. During your trip you may spot New Zealand fur seals which have now made a complete recovery after having been hunted nearly to extinction in the early 1800s. Dolphins frequently accompany cruises to Milford Sound, and if you are really lucky you may spot a rare Fiordland crested penguin.

An informative guide indicates points of interest along the way, and provides information about the geology, history and fauna of the area.  Mitre Peak Cruises pass the St Anne's lighthouse and head out into the Tasman Sea, providing visitors with a unique view of how the Sound looked to the first sealers at the end of the 1700s. The pristine, rugged scenery has changed little over the years, and you will be thrilled by spectacular sights such as Sinbad Gully and the Lady Bowen Falls which tumble 160-metres to the sea from a hanging valley in the Darren Range. You will be impressed by Mount Pembroke which rises to over 2000-metres, is constantly topped with snow and which contains the remnants of one of the glaciers which formed the Fiord.

 Milford Sound waterfall

 One of Milford Sound’s many awe-inspiring waterfalls (Photo credit Mitre Peak Cruises)

Mitre Peak Cruises pride themselves on their safety record, with strict passenger number limitations and experienced captains. During your cruise you can enjoy complimentary beverages as you look, listen and learn from their knowledgeable local guides. Milford Sound scenic cruises are perfect for the whole family, and as children enjoy a greatly reduced fare, under 5's travel free, it is an affordable option for a great family day out. As well as the cruise, visitors can enjoy a visit to the Milford Discovery Centre & Underwater Observatory. An air-conditioned viewing room built over 10-meters below the water where you can witness a spectacular underwater environment. You will be treated to a privileged view of sea stars, sponges, anemones, horse mussels and hordes of fish, as well as rare black and red coral formations. A layer of fresh water which sits on top of the seawater acts as a light filter permitting creatures which normally dwell in deep waters to exist and be seen nearer to the surface.

Mitre Peak Cruises offer a truly unique and exhilarating experience which is definitely a must-do on any New Zealand adventure. Queenstown visitors wanting to travel to the Milford Sound Visitor Terminal can collect a Queenstown Airport car rental from Omega’s conveniently located depot and enjoy an unforgettable alpine drive.  While you are planning your journey, take a look at these useful tips for travellers about the journey from Te Anau to Milford Sound via the Milford Road.