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Southland Safaris & wildlife activities

Our most recommended Southland Safaris & wildlife activities

Milford Sound: Cruise, Underwater Observatory, and Lunch

1. Milford Sound: Cruise, Underwater Observatory, and Lunch

Explore the beauty of the fiord on a vessel that’s purpose-built for the best daytime viewing. Set off on a day-trip that includes a delicious lunch, complimentary tea and coffee, and a visit to the Milford Sound Underwater Observatory. Climb aboard a smaller vessel at the Milford Sound Cruise Terminal to discover more of the fiord on an authentic and insightful experience. Get within touching distance of impressive rock walls and waterfalls. Join the skipper in the open wheelhouse and say hello to the native seals basking on the rocks as you pass them by. A knowledgeable local guide will ensure you discover the wildlife, nature, and history of this remarkable sanctuary. Take a break for a picnic lunch. Choose between a regular, vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free picnic option that includes a wrap, cheese, and crackers, seasonal fresh fruit, crisps, a cookie, and a small chocolate bar. Visit the Milford Sound Underwater Observatory, New Zealand's only floating underwater observatory for an experience unlike any other. Hidden under the surface in Harrison Cove in the middle of Piopiotahi Marine Reserve, the Observatory enables you to experience a different perspective of the fiord. Descend 64 steps (10-metres) underwater into a large, fully air-conditioned viewing area and peer out through large windows at the deep underwater haven. Unlike an aquarium, the fish are free to come and go; it’s the people who are contained.

Queenstown: Milford Sound Coach & Cruise Full-Day Trip

2. Queenstown: Milford Sound Coach & Cruise Full-Day Trip

Enjoy a fun and leisurely day trip to admire the glacial features, wild flora and fauna, and picturesque backdrops of the world-famous fiord at Milford Sound. Start with pickup for the bus journey to Te Anau. Your driver will share their local knowledge as you stop along the way to see spectacular scenery. Marvel at views of waterfalls, wildlife, and the rainforest. Soak up the sights from any of the three indoor and outdoor viewing decks during your cruise and join your jovial crew at the bow as you nose under Stirling Falls for a free shower in some of the world's freshest water.  Benefit from complimentary tea service is available for the entire cruise and espresso coffee, snacks cakes. Additional drinks can be purchased from onboard cafe / bar.

Milford Sound: Nature Cruise on Premium Glass-Roof Catamaran

3. Milford Sound: Nature Cruise on Premium Glass-Roof Catamaran

Climb aboard 'Gem of the Sound', the newest vessel to cruise in the fiord, for a Milford Sound nature cruise. Capture the best views of the incredible fiord with three-levels of indoor and outdoor seating, unique glass roofs, and large viewing decks. Be welcomed on board by a friendly crew and marvel at one of the most stunning places on earth. Relax in the comfortable booth seating with stylish decor and ambient lighting. High-definition cameras project outdoor footage live onto TV screens throughout the vessel - so no matter where are, you won't miss a thing. Admire New Zealand fur seals basking on rocks and feel the spray of cascading waterfalls. Look out for playful dolphins and, if you’re lucky, catch a glimpse of the rare and elusive Fiordland Crested Penguin. Travel the length of the fiord and out into the Tasman Sea, to see why Captain Cook failed to discover Milford Sound after charting the Fiordland National Park.

From Te Anau: Milford Sound Coach Tour and Cruise

4. From Te Anau: Milford Sound Coach Tour and Cruise

Start your day in central Te Anau as you board a modern tour bus and begin to explore Fiordland's stunning natural beauty. Knowledgeable local guides will share everything their homeland has to offer through informative commentary, scenic photo stops, and short nature walks. Cruise the full length of Milford Sound, and take in the spectacular scenery as mountains plunge into the deep waters of the Fiord. Ancient rainforests give way to towering waterfalls dropping from hanging valleys sparkling into the ocean below.  Milford Sound is abundant with unique birds and wildlife. See seals lounging on the rocks and playing in the shallows. On occasion dolphins, whales, and the very rare Fiordland Crested Penguin visit the sounds providing privileged photo opportunities.  Enjoy the fantastic scenery and nature walks in order to fully admire the true wilderness and grand vistas of Fiordland National Park. Hop on board Milford Sound's only premium glass roof catamaran for a 2-hour scenic cruise. Enjoy a picnic on board while you take in the scenery from a different perspective.

Stewart Island: 2.5-Hour Cruise and Ulva Island Guided Walk

5. Stewart Island: 2.5-Hour Cruise and Ulva Island Guided Walk

Discover Stewart Island from the water with a 2.5-hour experience including a cruise of beautiful Paterson Inlet and a 45-minute guided walk in Ulva Island Wildlife Sanctuary. Admire Paterson Inlet’s stunning scenery from hidden coves to unspoilt beaches. Hear fascinating stories of early Maori history and European settlement from your guide as you pass various landmarks. Your passionate guide will provide engaging commentary and is more than happy to answer questions. While on board, keep a lookout for fur seals, penguins and other wildlife, as sightings are common. Paterson Inlet is home to renowned wildlife sanctuary Ulva Island. Disembark here for a 45-minute guided walk with a specialist nature guide. The island is home to weka (native woodhen), bush robins, rare saddlebacks and yellowheads amongst other species. It is also a protected habitat for some of New Zealand’s rarest plant species. Relax for the remainder of the cruise around Paterson Inlet and enjoy the coastal scenery before heading back to the wharf.

Milford Sound: Nature Cruise with Picnic Lunch

6. Milford Sound: Nature Cruise with Picnic Lunch

Climb aboard a purpose-built catamaran in Milford Sound Cruise Terminal and set sail across the water to discover the unique wildlife of one of South Island's most picturesque attractions. Enjoy complimentary tea and coffee onboard and pre-purchase a picnic lunch when booking. Journey down the south side of the fjord and out into the Tasman Sea, before returning up the north side of the fjord. Listen to fascinating commentary about the region from your skipper in the open wheelhouse and say hello to the native seals basking on the rocks as you pass them by.  Get within touching distance of impressive rock walls carved by glaciers thousands of years ago. Feel the full force of the powerful 15,000-year-old Stirling Falls. The staff will roam the vessel available to answer your questions on the history, geology, and wildlife of the fiord along the way.

Milford Sound: Small-Group Tour from Te Anau

7. Milford Sound: Small-Group Tour from Te Anau

Travel from Te Anau alongside New Zealand's largest lake and into glacier-carved valleys before reaching Milford Sound on this full-day tour. Enjoy live commentary with lots of information and scenic stops along the way. Take in the best parts of Fiordland, the largest National Park in New Zealand. Ride in comfort in a small coach with plenty of legroom. Be on the lookout for a wide variety of native birds en- route. Enjoy a cruise on Milford Sound to see seals, dolphins, and Fiordland crested penguins. Learn about the geology of the fiord from commentary provided in English. Marvel at the towering mountains and numerous waterfalls.

From Queenstown: Premium Doubtful Sound Wilderness Day Trip

8. From Queenstown: Premium Doubtful Sound Wilderness Day Trip

Visit Doubtful Sound on a full-day trip from Queenstown. Board a luxury bus and travel along the shores of Lake Wakatipu, through the rolling countryside to Manapouri. Enjoy informative commentary along the way from your driver. From Manapouri, cruise across the crystal waters of Lake Manapouri to West Arm. Then board a coach to cross the alpine route of the Wilmot Pass, through some of Fiordland National Park’s most dense rainforest. On reaching Deep Cove, climb aboard a modern catamaran for a 2.75-hour cruise, exploring the waterways of this serene and isolated fiord. See waterfalls, rainforests, mountains, and wildlife. Your knowledgeable nature guides will provide you with engaging and informative commentary throughout.  You'll be treated to the sound of silence when the vessel’s engines are turned off. Experience floating on the fiord, with only the rush of waterfalls and birdsong to break the silence. Bring your own lunch, or purchase snacks on board in the vessel’s cafes. If you would like to preorder a picnic lunch, feel free to contact the activity provider directly after booking. When it rains in Fiordland, the landscape is especially dramatic. The scenery is spectacular, and you will stay dry and comfortable from your vantage point on the catamaran. At the end of your cruise, return over Wilmot Pass by coach and cruise across Lake Manapouri before the bus journey back to Queenstown.

Queenstown: Milford Sound Flight and Cruise

9. Queenstown: Milford Sound Flight and Cruise

Take flight a small luxury plane leaving Queenstown. Admire the awe-inspiring scenery from your very own window seat as you soar over Fiordland National Park, listening to the pilot's commentary. Landing at Milford Sound airport you will be escorted to the Cruise Terminal either by shuttle or 15 minute nature walk to meet your boat. Enjoy 2 hours of spectacular scenery and wildlife on the Gem of the Sound, learn all about the history of the area from the skipper as he skillfully pulls the boat underneath waterfalls and right up to the base of famous Mitre Peak. Your pilots will meet you off the cruise at the Terminal and take you back to the awaiting plane for your return to Queenstown. Your complimentary shuttle will drop you back to your hotel with plenty of time to enjoy the legendary dining scene.

Milford Sound Fiord Cruise & Helicopter Glacier Landing

10. Milford Sound Fiord Cruise & Helicopter Glacier Landing

Discover Milford Sound's stunning fjord from high in the air and on the water. Land in Milford and join an unforgettable fjord cruise past sheer cliffs and gushing waterfalls.Try to spot dolphins, seals, and adorable penguins. Then enjoy an exhilarating flight past spectacular rivers, valleys, and mountains with blue-green ice falls, and experience a glacier or mountain landing in the heart of Fiordland National Park. Today, many of the local landscapes can be recognized because of their use as film locations. You can even fly over where movies were filmed! The pilots regularly work with film production crews and are happy to share plenty of stories of life on the film set. Finally, for the photo opportunity of a lifetime, alight on a glacier and enjoy panoramic views. These highly experienced, well-known local pilots can’t wait to share with you their extensive knowledge and history of the area while showing you the best of New Zealand's amazing scenery. Please note that there may not be snow on the day of your flight depending on the season, especially during summer.

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  • Multi-day trips
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What people are saying about Southland

Overall rating

5.0 / 5

based on 6 reviews

Great way to see Milford sound. The staff were great. They were knowledgeable about the area and the animals and gave an in depth safety brief. We wereable to stop at certain areas of the sounds to look at seals, dolphins and feel the intensity of nearby waterfalls. It can get windy so bring warm clothes to take off the chill. Recommend to do the first session of the day as getting to and from the sound is busy on the roads and parking is limited, an early start to avoid these. Free parking is available if you are willing to walk 15 mins to the harbour.

Milford Sound is fantastic! Great scenery! And the waterfall!! I give the tour operator Greats Sights 5 stars but for the booking I made through Get Your Guide, I give them 2 stars. Booking confirmed for 7.40am departure but in reality it was 6.50am. Missed the bus completely! We had to take a Taxi to Te Anau to catch up with the group. Good thing Great Sights covered the cost. It was stressful at the start but we made it. Bus ride was long to Milford but overall, nice experience.

Luke is a legend, funny and above all got us to our destination and home again safe. Great personality for the role and super helpful with any questions we had! Can’t thank him enough has he really made the whole day an amazing experience!!!

We loved both boat cruises and the coach ride! Everything was very informative and doubtful sound is just beautiful! Don’t waste your time in Milford Sound, enjoy Doubtful. We booked the 7 a.m. tour and saw dolphins and fur seals. :D

Grandiose, majestic mountain and the chance to have at least 4 dolphins who accompanied us on the way back by boat, extraordinary