Kayaking in Milford Sound

Our alarm went off at 6am, it was still dark outside and very cold. Luckily we were staying at a campsite in Milford Sound that is also run as a hostel, so we could use the kitchen facilities inside to make our breakfast and get ready for the day ahead. After very much needed warm porridge and coffee, we got our gear together and waited for the bus to arrive at the campsite to guide us down to the harbour for our kayaking day trip on Milford Sound.

Once we got to the harbour we were handed the clothing and equipment needed for the days adventure. We had a briefing on the basics, how to get in and out, the do’s and don’ts, in’s and out’s and general safety of kayaking. After applying yet more sand fly repellent we were ready to hit the waters.

It was so calm on the water when we first set off, the sun was slowly rising over the high mountain tops that surrounded us as we paddled along in the basin. Milford Sound was so much bigger than I had imagined. I couldn’t quite comprehend quite how big as I sat in our double kayak, trying to twist my head and neck to look around me at mountain walls lining the side of the water, some as high as 1200 m. It wasn’t until I started looking at the trees growing on the mountain sides, that I started to understand how high they were and how big the whole of Milford Sound is. In fact, our guide for the day told us that where you can see the sheer rock face of the mountain sides is where tree avalanches have occurred, pushing a large amount of trees into to the water, leaving the rocks sheer.

As we got further out in to the waters, out of the basin and in to the actual sound, Mat and I was taken a back by it’s majestic beauty. Right in front of us we could see Mitre Peak, towering over us at 1692 metres. Our guide then pointed at Stirling Falls and asked us to guess how far away it was from us. As we could see it clearly and see that it was a high waterfall, most of us guessed around 2km. It was 6 km away! Again, proving to us how big this place really is. So we couldn’t make it to Stirling Falls and back as part of a day trip in our Kayaks, so we would have to make do with Lady Bowen Falls, which didn’t disappoint one bit. We could feel the power of this great waterfall as we paddled up close to it, well as close as we could.

We also encountered a few seals, they were resting themselves on the rock cliffs at the sides, looking very lazy but also very cute, posing for us to take pictures of them. I have read that people have encountered dolphins and our guide said that the previous week when she was with a group in Doubtful Sound, they saw a Killer Whale swim by them! We weren’t quite as lucky, but seeing the seals was good enough for me. After seeing the seals, we stopped off at a rocky beach for some lunch to refuel and rest a little. And when we hit the waters again, it was time to head back.

A day trip of kayaking in Milford Sound doesn’t show you that much of it, as you won’t get that far by paddle power, but it was still a great experience. If we’d had the time and the money, I’m sure we would have either opted for 2 day kayaking trip or 2 day cruise trip in Doubtful Sound.

Milford and Doubtful Sounds are actually incorrectly named. It was first believed that they were Sounds, that is a river formed valley flooded by the sea. When they actually are fjords; formed by the erosive effects of a glacier. Read more about Milford Sound here and Doubtful Sound here.

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