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From the Air to the Water: Combining a Scenic Flight with Milford Sound Scenic Cruise

Are you travelling to New Zealand to experience a wild outdoor adventure? You are heading in the right direction! As an island nation with a diverse geological back story, New Zealand offers incredible white sand beaches, volcanic craters, bubbling natural springs, glaciers, hot mud pools and some of the best skiing in the world!

If you are fortunate enough to be heading into New Zealand’s South Island to take in some sights or enjoy the many adventure tourism activities on offer, there are a couple of things you should be putting on your ‘must-do’ list.

Perhaps you are looking for an adrenaline rush, or maybe you are keen to catch a glimpse of the local wildlife. Whatever you decide, you won’t be disappointed by the rugged beauty of the Deep South. New Zealand is renowned for its natural wonders, and one of the most spectacular of these is the Milford Sound.

At True South Flights, we have had the pleasure of introducing thousands of visitors to the exceptional charm of our landscape, and we think one of the best experiences you can have while you are visiting the area is to combine a scenic flight and a Milford Sound Scenic Cruise.

Read on to discover some Milford Sound history, explore what you might get to see if you book this winning combination and find out how getting up close and personal with some local wildlife may just be possible if you keep your eyes peeled.

Where is Milford Sound?

Milford Sound, or Piopiotahi, is located in the southwest corner of the South Island and the northernmost fiord in the Fiordland National Park. The closest town is Te Anau, and the nearest city is Queenstown – around 4 and a half hours drive away, or a short 40 minutes if you opt for a flight to the Milford Sound Airport.

Milford was created out of the movements of five different glaciers – as were all the valleys and fiords in the national park. This spectacular natural wonder was formed as a result of the last great ice age and features stunning granite cliffs that soar around 1700 metres above sea level and extend inland from the Tasman Sea for a whopping 16 kilometres.

The Scenic Cruise

Milford Sound has the most rainfall of any location in New Zealand, and this means lush rainforests have sprung up on the face of the majestic cliffs which surround you as you board The Gem of the Sound, a luxurious three-level catamaran with a glass roof. Don’t miss a thing as you cruise the icy waters beneath the mountain ranges, with peaks up to 1,692 metres and waterfalls that cascade hundreds of metres into the stunning clear water.

You can opt to sit indoors and take advantage of the Gem of the Sound, Piopiotahi / Milford’s only glass roof vessel guaranteeing you the best viewing opportunities in the fiord as you pass through the sound and out into the Tasman Sea.

Wildlife Spotting

Alongside dramatic waterfalls, there is plenty of opportunity to spot some native wildlife as you cruise the Milford Sound. Listen to the captain provide an informative commentary, and keep your eye out for seals lolling about on the rocks, with Little Blue Penguins often seen and the endangered Fiordland Crested Penguin making an appearance from time to time.

There is a pod of around 60 Bottlenose Dolphins that inhabit these waters, and they often play in the wake as boats pass through, and at certain times of year, you may even be lucky enough to see rare Dusky Dolphins – or even a whale!

Native Forests

This ancient forest supports tracts of New Zealand native beech, and there are many other species of native trees here, including totara, rimu, and miro. The richness of the aquatic plant life means there is always a chance you may see or hear shearwaters, cormorants and gulls on the water and the cheeky native parrot Kea on the land. There are also endangered birds in the area, including the Takahe and the Kakapo, and while sightings of these two are rare – it’s not impossible.

The Best Way to Get to Milford Sound

While the boat tour through the Sound is an unforgettable experience, there is a way to take it to the next level. The drive from Queenstown features some gorgeous scenery, but it is long, and in some cases, it can be treacherous. Fortunately, True South Flights has taken care of getting adventurers to the Milford Sound for over a decade, and we have an incredible team of pilots and ground staff that can take you on the trip of a lifetime and deliver you safely back at the end of the day.


If you are ready to experience the wild beauty of the south, we can take you there. Our flights leave Queenstown three times a day during summer and twice in the winter months, and we fly you over 80 kilometres of the most breathtaking landscape, including mountains, alpine valleys, glaciers and lakes. Soaring above it all is an incredible feeling; we gently land you at the Milford Sound Airport, escort you to The Gem of the Sound for two magnificent hours on the water, and pick you up to bring you back to Queenstown when you are done.

Book Now

These tours fill up fast, so make sure you book well in advance. This is a not to be missed experience and a wonderful way to build memories that will last a lifetime.

Get in touch now to Fly-Cruise-Fly the Milford Sound.

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