One of New Zealand's most famous and recognisable destinations, Milford Sound is also one of its most spectacular. It showcases natural New Zealand at its very best, come rain or shine, and Rudyard Kipling once famously referred to it as ‘the eighth wonder of the world'.
The cool blue waters of the sound lap towering cliffs and mountains whose tops are often capped with snow. There are thick forests and waterfalls, some of which plunge several hundred metres down the steep-sided walls of the fiord.
Bottlenose and husky dolphins can sometimes be seen leaping in the wake of cruise ships. Fur seals are another species that can be sighted, in the water or basking on empty beaches.
In 1770 Captain Cook spotted Doubtful Sound, but he decided against entering it as he was doubtful as to whether he could get out again. Had he ventured on, he would have witnessed a sound some ten times the size of its more famous brother, Milford - an untouched wilderness of mountain peaks, mirror-calm waterways and tangled rainforest.
Dolphins, seals and penguins make occasional splashes in the waters of the Sound, but at other times it's eerily peaceful - so much so that it has earned the nickname of the ‘Sound of Silence', due to the lack of disturbance, particularly at night.
It's perhaps best explored on an overnight cruise, taking to the water after the day-trippers have departed.