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The Best Photo Spot in Milford Sound: The Milford Sound Swing

The Best Photo Spot in Milford Sound: The Milford Sound Swing

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The Milford Sound Swing is a rather new attraction in Milford Sound and therefore not many people know about it. However, in recent times, its popularity has begun to grow, largely due to the huge influence of Instagram.

In the past few months, many popular Instagrammers have visited the swing and taken the beautiful shot of Milford sound while swinging on the Milford Swing.

I too first saw the swing on Instagram and when I visited Milford Sound kept a close eye out for it.

Unfortunately, it was harder to find than I thought and it took a little more than a simple walk around to find it.

Finally, I found it, but wow during high tide this place really is hard to find!

After getting there though, it was clear why the swing was so popular as the view of Milford Sound from the Swing is one of the best in the bay. For that reason, I decided to write a post to help people find the swing for themselves and hopefully get the best seat in the house….literally!

The Story Behind the Milford Swing

Milford Sound Swing
Bailey having a great time on the swing!

While in Milford on a Milford Sound boat cruise I decided to find out a little info about the swing. As it turns out the swing was built by one of the workers in the camp at Milford Sound. The guy who built it did so for his girlfriend. What you may not be aware of is that the swing is actually built for two!

When I spoke to some of the locals they asked how I had heard about the swing. I explained about the few Instagramers that shared amazing photos of the swing. Apparently, Instagram photos have now snowballed the swing to stardom!

Related read: The Milford Swing is one of the best things to do in Milford Sound! Also, it is one of the activities you can also do in Milford in the winter months!

So Where Exactly is the Milford Sound Swing?

Milford Sound Swing
It really is a swing made for two!

The best way to explain it is through both photos and instructions that will point you in the right direction and out to the swing.

During high tide, the below instructions are the only way to get to it without getting wet. However, during low tide, you can walk out to the Milford Sound Swing from the parking lot.

Step 1.

The first step to finding the swing is to find the Milford Sound Forest Walk. This short trail begins from the parking lot and is easy to find. Simply face the water and walk to your left. Here you will find picnic tables and a small grassed area. If you keep walking the path turns into the Forest Walk. There is a sign so you will know that you are in the right spot!

Milford Sound Swing
The views are amazing!

Step 2.

As you walk along the Forest Walk you will eventually cross a bridge. Once you have crossed the bridge it is important to keep walking around the trail and stick to the right (or Milford Sound side) of the trail once you reach the fork in the road.

Shortly after the bridge and the fork in the road, you will see a small clearing that leads to a small sandy area. From here you will be able to see the swing if you look out to the small sandy peninsula (it will be on your right side). You will be seeing the swing from the front.

Step 3.

Walk out onto the sandy beach area and follow it around to your right until you reach the swing. During high tide, the water can go right up to the bush line meaning you may need to walk through some shrubs around to the back of the swing. I opted to instead walk through the water as I had hiking boots on.

Milford Sound Swing Map
If my explanation is too confusing this map might help! Map photo from the app MAPS.ME

Best Time to Visit the Milford Sound Swing

The best time to visit the Milford Swing is at sunset! Not only are there very few visitors at this time but the sun sets right in front of the swing! Of course, if you want to see the Milford Swing at sunset then it’s best to stay at the Milford Sound Lodge or in Te Anau. Te Anau is the closest town to Milford Sound leaving you plenty of time to enjoy Milford Sound at its quietest!

You can browse accommodation in Te Anau here!

Related Read: Don’t miss out on the perfect road trip from Queenstown to Milford Sound!

What to Book Before Heading to Milford Sound

exploring milford sound on a boat
Look at that rainbow!

If you’re heading off to Milford Sound after hiking Lake Marian Track then be sure to have your Milford cruise booked in advance before you arrive. A cruise is one of those must-do activities in Milford that you shouldn’t miss.

Below are some of the top-rated cruises you can do in Milford Sound! Be sure the check the times of the cruises and make sure you have enough time to stop at the places you want to stop at and of course hike the Lake Marian track. (If you’re unsure, leave a comment below and I’ll be more than happy to help you plan this epic road trip!)

My favorite cruises in Milford Sound are the Nature Cruise and Sightseeing Nature Cruise. However, the Encounter Nature Cruise does start at 9:45 am which is a little early if you plan on hiking the Lake Marian Track before (you could hike it after though!)

How to get to Milford Sound

There are literally hundreds of ways to experience Milford Sound in your own unique way!

To help you choose here are the 6 best ways to get to Milford Sound in order to find the Milford Sound Swing!

1. Full-day Tour from Queenstown

Another common stop on the way to Milford Sound fro  boat cruise
A common stop on the way to Milford Sound in the Eglinton Valley

Without a doubt, a day cruise in Milford Sound from Queenstown is the most popular and convenient way to explore the fiord! Day cruises in Milford Sound with transport from Queenstown can cost as little as $139 NZD.

With most of the trips from Queenstown, you can also choose the type of cruise you do, add lunch, or even a kayaking trip!

From Queenstown, the drive to Milford Sound takes around 4 hours each way on a tour bus. Luckily though, the drive (between Te Anau and Milford) is also an attraction on its own and most of the companies who travel to Milford stop at some stunning spots along the way.

Tours from Queenstown by bus take around 12 hours and leave from Queenstown at around 7 am. It’s a long day but as I’ve said, it’s super convenient and easy for those who don’t have a car! This full-day tour is my favorite Milford Sound tour with transport departing from either Queenstown or Te Anau.

2. Full-day Tour from Te Anau

A viewpoint on the road to Milford Sound
Pop’s Viewpoint on the road from Te Anau to Milford Sound

Te Anau is only a 1.5-hour drive from Milford Sound so it’s common to join a tour from there. Although the tours from Te Anau to Milford Sound are almost identical to the tours from Queenstown, but you have the added bonus of being much closer to Milford meaning you can spend more time in the fiord and less time on a bus.

These tours also stop at some of the most impressive places on the road to Milford Sound! Tours from Te Anau also don’t leave until around 9 am so you get a little bit of a sleep-in on your holiday!

The problem I have with this option is that if you have a car and have already driven yourself to Te Anau, it makes sense just to drive yourself to Milford Sound too! With the info in the next section, you’ll know all the best places to stop on the way.

You should, however, spend a night in Te Anau or Milford Sound (more on that later) so you have plenty of time to explore the area!

3. Self-drive to Milford Sound

Bailey sitting on a rock at Lake Marian on the way to Miflord Sound
If you stay in Te Anau you can hike to Lake Marian on your way to Milford Sound

This is my top choice when it comes to experiencing Milford Sound in an adventurous way but also on a budget. My personal recommendation is to spend a night in Te Anau (or Milford Sound) and leave from there. It’ll give you more time to explore the stunning stops along Milford Road and still join a cruise later in the afternoon.

If you don’t already have a car, simply rent one in Queenstown for your epic road trip to Milford!

If you’re leaving from Queenstown or Te Anau and want even more time then consider staying at the Milford Lodge. The Milford Lodge is the only hotel in Milford Sound and it’s located only a 5-minute walk from the foreshore. It’s not the cheapest place to stay but if you have a campervan then you can get a powered site for only $60 per night – not bad considering its location! Alternatively, they offer budget dorm rooms all the way to chalets for $700 a night!

If you want additional options, check out our blog post on where to stay in Milford Sound!

I have stayed at the lodge and it gave me an entire day to drive from Te Anau to Milford Sound. I stopped at places like the Lake Marian TrackMirror Lakes, and the Key Summit and still had time for a cruise the next day!

If you’re self-driving then be sure to read my post on the perfect Milford Sound itinerary from Queenstown. Although the article starts in Queenstown, just use the stops and estimated times as a guide from Te Anau onwards.

Related Read: Use this outline of several different New Zealand road trip itineraries to help you start planning your trip!

4. Bus tour from Queenstown to Milford with a Scenic Return Flight

Milford Sound Nature Cruise
The best cruise in Milford Sound!

The next way I highly recommend you to consider is the bus ride to Milford Sound with a return flight back to Queenstown. The reason you must take the return flight on the way way back is so you don’t miss the stops on the way to Milford Sound (the buses drive straight back to Queenstown without stopping after the cruises).

Although this way is a lot more expensive, just think of the adventure! The flight from Milford Sound to Queenstown only takes around 40 minutes and flies straight over the Southern Alps!

As you can imagine, this way is much quicker and instead of the 4-hour drive home, you’ll be taking the fast way home cutting off over 3 hours of your day! You’ll see Milford from the road, water, and air – it’s really the full tour of Milford!

You can view a range of scenic flight options here!

5. Scenic Flight to and from Milford Sound

A helicopter flies though Milford Sound, New Zealand
A helicopter flies over Fiordland, southern New Zealand.

If you really want to shorten the trip and enjoy a day in the air then flying both to and from Milford Sound is a great option.

These fly/cruise/fly tours are the most expensive and often cost around $1000 NZD with a cruise included. However, with this option, you can leave at 7 am and be back in Queenstown in time for lunch!

You can choose to fly by plane or helicopter, however, on a helicopter ride, you can also experience a glacier landing!

Most flights include a flight down the entire length of Milford Sound and if you fly by helicopter, some include up to 5 landings in and around Milford Sound!

You will miss the stops on the road to Milford Sound but with the views you get from both flights, you won’t really care!

6. Milford Sound Overnight Cruise

Milford sound sunset
Can you spot the overnight cruise in Milford Sound??

My last option is something I have never had the pleasure of doing but honestly is a dream of mine! Spending the night on a Milford Sound cruise is the most epic way to explore the fiord.

Just imagine Milford Sound with almost no other people around, and quiet in all its beauty! Yep, I’m already jealous of you just thinking about doing it!

There are a few different ways to join an overnight cruise. You can either drive yourself to Milford Sound, get picked up in Queenstown, or even Te Anau! Regardless though, this is one experience that’s truly unchallenged!

Currently, the main company that does overnight cruises in Milford Sound is RealNZ and you can book here directly from their website with pickups from every location!

Road Conditions on the Drive to Milford Sound

Waiting at the Homer tunnel on the road to Milford Sound, New Zealand
Waiting at the Homer tunnel on the road to Milford Sound, New Zealand

If you’ve decided to drive yourself to Milford Sound then it’s important to check the road conditions before setting off. In summer you likely won’t have any problems, but in winter things are different.

We had perfect road conditions on all our visits, but I could see how the drive could be slow and somewhat dangerous during icy road conditions. The last 20 minutes or so before getting to Milford Sound is very steep and narrow.

You can check the up-to-date road reports for updates before departing Te Anau to avoid road closures in the winter and disappointment.

Related Read: If you’re visiting Milford Sound in winter be sure to read our complete guide before you go! We include the best things to do and tips for getting there.

Thanks for reading!

Dan and Bailey take a selfie in the winter snow

If you plan on visiting Milford Sound (which you should, it’s spectacular) then a visit to the Milford Swing is a must. Whether you love photography or just want to enjoy the most beautiful swing in the world then I highly advise not missing it – it’s one of the best things to do in Milford!

I hope this short post has helped you find the Milford Swing and please share your photos and thoughts of the Milford Sound Swing with us in the comments below or via our social media channels. We really love hearing about our reader’s adventures and connecting with like-minded people!

We have several other blogs on Milford Sound, Queenstown, and New Zealand. Our blogs include lots of information for fellow travelers, great tips and tricks, and photos to help inspire your travels! Some you may like are:

Free and cheap things to do in Queenstown

Best foods to try in Queenstown

Te Anua to Milford Sound

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