Kayaking In Milford Sound

Kayaking in Milford Sound is one of the best ways to experience the beauty and nature of Milford Sound. From a kayak, the experience is completely different than from the shore or on a large boat. This blog is all about everything you need to know about kayaking in Milford Sound. 

Kayaking in Milford Sound

Milford Sound is one of New Zealand’s most beautiful places to visit. This untouched wilderness is stunningly beautiful and huge in size. Milford Sound has earned it place as the number one Fiord to explore of the 9 in the area, and after visiting it’s not hard to see why.

During a visit to Milford Sound, it’s almost certain you will venture out on a scenic cruise – it’s one of the best ways to take in Milford Sound’s beauty and gage its massive size. However, the only thing (in my opinion) that tops the cruise is kayaking in Milford Sound!

Kayaking in Milford Sound is a truly special activity. From your tiny Kayak, you really feel so small, like you’re floating among giants! We decided on our second visit to Milford Sound that we just had to give it a go and what we discovered inspired us to write this blog!

This blog is to not only convince you kayaking in Milford Sound is worth it but to let you know everything there is to know about kayaking in Milford Sound.

kayaking in Milford Sound tours
Getting all geared up for the trip!

Kayaking tours

Unless you’re bringing your own kayak, the only way to kayak in Milford Sound is on a guided tour. The reason is that companies don’t rent out kayaks without a guide due to safety reasons. Milford Sound’s ever-changing weather and boat traffic make kayaking dangerous for inexperienced unguided visitors. So, assuming you don’t have your own kayak, below are a few of the different kayaking tours you can do in Milford Sound.

Short trips included with your cruise

The most convenient way to experience all Milford Sound has to offer is on a cruise and kayak package. These packages usually include about an hour of kayaking with an experienced and knowledgeable guide. This is perfect if you’re new to kayaking or not up for a full-day activity.
Cruise and kayak packages are also the most budget-friendly option.
It’s really a tour for the everyday person and the one we opted to go with.

Milford Sound Nature Cruise
The first glimpses of Milford on a nature cruise

Full day trips

These full day trips are for those even more keen to get out on the water in a kayak. These tours cover more of Milford and visit several different places. A higher fitness level and experience level are handy for this type of tour. In bad weather, a full day out on the water can be challenging, but also super rewarding. If you’re an adventurer and have the time then why not!?

Full day kayaking tours in Milford Sound
Some of the longer trips explore different places in Milford Sound

About Our Chosen Kayak Tour

We did the cruise and kayak tour offered by Sothern Discoveries and had a blast! This is how our day went…

We started our kayaking adventure after the Encounter Nature Cruise and were dropped off at the Southern Discoveries Discovery Centre. This centre includes an Underwater Observatory which is an area 10m under the surface of the water where you can see the marine life through glass windows! Because we booked the cruise and kayak package our ticket also included a tour of the Underwater Observatory!

After checking out the Underwater Observatory, we headed off to get geared up for kayaking. We were given waterproof pants and the option of a thermal waterproof jacket and dry bags for cameras and phones if we wanted to take them. We left everything else behind and boarded our kayaks.

The platform with the kayaks sits a meter above the water and you actually board your kayak on the platform. You walk onto the platform, sit in your kayak, and then the platform lowers you into the water. This is super handy as this platform it makes getting in and out of the water very easy!

Kayaking tours in Milford Sound
Venturing out to explore this amazing fiord

Once on the water, our tour began. We headed off following our two guides as they showed and explained lots of places and info on Milford Sound. We took photos and explored the whole bay all while keeping an eye out for some of Milford Sound’s unique wildlife. To our surprise, we actually spotted two Fiordland Crested Penguins – the 3rd rarest Penguin in the world! As we weren’t on a large ship we could get really close without startling them. This was one of the highlights of the tour!

As the tour continued we took the time to sit back and enjoy Milford’s grand size and prehistoric charm. This to us was the true highlight and the top reason not to miss kayaking in Milford Sound.

The kayaking tour went for just over an hour and after it ended we caught another boat back to the shore.

Who can do it?

If you choose to do the same tour we did with the cruise and kayak then its an activity for everyone. As mentioned above, the kayaking is done in a calm bay and only goes for an hour. The tour was slow paced and was more about being out on the water enjoying Milford Sound than kayaking all over the place. You also have a life jacket on and there is a rescue boat in case you capsize only minutes away.

What is the cost?

The price of kayaking tours in Milford varies quite a lot which is dependent mostly on how long you go for. The cheapest way to get any of the tours is to do a cruise and kayak package. The Southern Discoveries Cruise and Kayak is the one we did and costs $199 nzd (Adult). This includes the Encounter Nature Cruise, entrance to the Underwater Observatory, a guided kayak tour including gear, and a packed lunch. In our opinion, this is a fair price and the entire tour from start to finish ran for about 4.5 hours.

You can check more packages and prices here!

Exploring Milford Sound by Kayak


What is included?

Included on the kayak tour are the kayaks, life jackets, waterproof pants, thermal waterproof jacket, guide, and dry bag. As we did the cruise and kayak we also had a packed lunch, Encounter Nature Cruise, and cruise nature guide included!

How to Kayak in Milford Sound
Also included is a Kayaking demonstration in case your completely new to it!

What to Bring

Sunscreen, hat and sunglasses – if you do get a sunny day then it is a good idea to be sun smart especially with the reflections off the water.

Camera – If it’s not waterproof then only take it with a dry bag and don’t take it out untill your confident on the kayak.

Snacks – If you don’t include the packed lunch then bringing your own is a good idea

Waterproof boots/ Quick dry pants etc – If you’re just doing the kayak then you will be fine in runners and jeans but if you do the cruise too then bring both. This is because there are plenty of opportunities to get wet by the waterfalls!

What We Thought

Both Bailey and I enjoyed the kayaking so much! Cruising Milford Sound on a ship is amazing but being on a humble kayak really put things into perspective. We also were able to get closer to wildlife as we didn’t have a noisy engine scaring them away. Joined with the cruise we really felt like we had truly explored Milford Sound.

In the end though, it doesn’t really matter what tours you do in Milford as you’re still bound to be amazed at its beauty – but the kayak trip is really the icing on the cake and something we highly recommend!

Anything else?

Need more information on Milford Sound? You may want to check out one or more of the blogs on Milford Sound below.

The Best Photo (Secret) Spot in Milford Sound: The Milford Sound Swing
The Scenic Drive from Te Anau to Milford Sound
Exploring Milford Sound on a Boat Cruise

We also have tons more blogs on New Zealand you can view here!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *