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Cruising New Zealand’s awesome Milford Sound

Turn-around waters at the end of Milford Sound, New Zealand, cruising on Celebrity Century (Photo by David G. Molyneaux,

Remote Milford Sound is a New Zealand fjord where ocean and mountains meet in a jagged finger of seawater that was carved through the rock by a glacier. The fjord is not a quick trip from anywhere, but I got there the easy way, on the deck of a cruise ship.

Milford Sound is in Fiordland National Park, in the Southwest corner of New Zealand’s South Island. It is rated as one of the world’s 10 most impressive fjords.

Most folks fly to Queenstown, New Zealand’s adventure vacation capital for water sports, skiing and bungee jumping.

Then, you can drive to the tiny village at the edge of Milford Sound to pop onto the water in a rented sea kayak, small tour boat or sightseeing plane.

Or, you can grab a backpack and walk the 33-mile Milford Track, a marked path available only to 40 people starting off each day from late October to late April (spring to fall in New Zealand). Hikers must make a reservation, and finish the Track in 4 days, 3 nights regardless of the weather.

Easiest, by far, is to arrive on a cruise ship.

Mine was the 1,814-passenger Celebrity Century, on a 12-night voyage out of Australia. The Century left Sydney on a Wednesday, stopped in Tasmania on a Friday, then crossed the Tasman Sea in two days, three nights.

We reached Milford Sound before daybreak on Monday.

Early light streams through the mountains in Milford Sound. At left is a waterfall. (Photo by David G. Molyneaux,

My ship gently cruised the fjord for two hours to the end, turned around and headed  back out to sea, detouring later in the day for views of nearby Doubtful and Dusky Sounds .

The Sounds of New Zealand are an awesome sight, with huge peaks, sheer rock faces and torrents of water falling from the mountains. No matter how you get there, it’s worth the journey.


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