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Milford Sound: eighth wonder of the world

Friday, August 12, 2011
Milford Sound is one of 14 fiords lying within Fiordland National Park and the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage site. It is one of the world's top travel destinations and is acclaimed as New Zealand's most famous attraction. Attracting more than 550,000 people every year, Rudyard Kipling called it the eighth wonder of the world.

It runs 15 kilometres inland from the Tasman Sea and is surrounded by sheer rock faces rising 1200 metres on either side. Its towering peaks add to the drama — the Elephant is 1517 metres high and Lion Mountain is 1302 metres high. Lush rain forests cling to the cliffs, and seals, dolphins and penguins frequent the waters.

While most tourists take boat tours, hiking, backpacking and canoeing are also popular. There is an underwater observatory in one of the bays which provides viewing of black coral, usually only found in much deeper waters.

But there is another way to admire this special place and that's from above. Heliworks operates numerous scenic helicopter flights from Queenstown, mainly heading to Fiordland and the Southern Lakes. So adept are they, they have provided aerial filming services to major films includingX-Men, King Kong, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Highly experienced pilots fly squirrel helicopters complete with leather seats for comfort while you appreciate the scale and beauty of the fiord system.

They fly over and around Milford Sound and there is one landing at Earnslaw Burn, a lake area at the edge of a glacier.

The scenery seems to become more beautiful every minute and it can be enjoyed in spring, summer, autumn and winter. Each season has something different to offer.

To see it all up close, join a Real Journeys Nature Cruise. They cruise 19 kilometres along the Sound and out to the Tasman Sea in a two-and-a-half hour adventure. The senses get a work-out — you can see the wonderful mountains, hear the waves and smell the bush from the bow of their boat.

There are often seal sightings and penguins have returned and started nesting. Bottlenose dolphins occasionally go into the fiord as well.

While the boats are fully motorised, they were designed to look like traditional trading scows, and weather permitting, white sails are raised. They give the feeling the very first European explorers must have had and have the advantage of being able to get close to the fiord cliffs and waterfalls.

Stirling Falls flow year around, and it's said that if you stand underneath them long enough, you will look 10 years younger! No one know for sure just how long that could take.


Milford Sound, a fiord in the south-west of New Zealand's south island.


Heliworks Queenstown Helicopters' 90-minute Milford Sound Highlights cost about $680 per person.

Real Journeys Milford Sound Nature Cruises are priced from $58 to $74. They operate year round and there are a choice of cruises, including overnight adventures.

Air New Zealand has flights to Christchurch, Auckland and Queenstown.

Christchurch one-way:

  • Sydney and Melbourne $189
  • Brisbane $190

Auckland one-way:

  • Sydney and Melbourne $220
  • Brisbane $249
  • Adelaide $297

Queenstown one-way:

  • Melbourne $288
  • Sydney $289

Sales and validity dates apply.

Prices correct at August 13, 2011.

For more information

Air New Zealand
Ph: 132 476

Heliworks Queenstown Helicopters
Queenstown International Airport
Tex Smith Lane
New Zealand
Ph: 64 3 441 4011
Fax: 64 3 441 4012

Real Journeys
Town Centre & Mokonui Streets
Te Anau 9640
New Zealand
Ph: 64 3 249 7416

Visa: Australian citizens do not require a visa to enter New Zealand.

Electricity: 230V/50Hz using the same plugs as in Australia.

Time zone: GMT +1.

Currency: The New Zealand dollar.

Telephone code: +64.

It is recommended travellers see their doctor at least six weeks before departure as there may be specific vaccinations recommended for areas you will be visiting. Other health precautions and preventions may also be recommended. For further information, visit and

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