Why you should visit Milford Sound in spring

Spring time in New Zealand is a magical time of year. Winter starts to melt away, chilly mornings transform into clear, warm days and the evening sun lingers in the sky. It’s that tantalising time of year where we start to shed layers of clothing, enjoy longer warmer days and see the countryside blossom with new life. September, October and November are New Zealand’s spring months and they’re a great time of the year to experience Milford Sound. Here are six reasons why we think you should visit Milford Sound in spring.

Less people

Spring is our shoulder season which means there are fewer people visiting Milford Sound. It’s not as busy as the summer and autumn months of December to April, so you’ll enjoy the journey and the scenery without the crowds. Fewer people in Milford Sound also means there won’t be so many people walking the Milford Track – a great time for you to do it!

Lots more waterfalls!

Deer and Fawn in Milford Sound in the spring morning
Stag and fawn seen in Te Anau on the way to Milford Sound

Milford Sound is known as the land of a thousand waterfalls, and during spring there’s a good chance you’ll see plenty of them! Spring brings high rainfall, and this coupled with melting snow, means there’s more chance of waterfalls seemingly appearing out of nowhere along the Milford Road.  Visit Milford Sound in spring and see the permanent waterfalls in the fiord, like Lady Bowen Falls and Stirling Falls, which are even more spectacular after spring rain.

Blossoming with new life

Spring injects life into Milford Sound. There’s something quite delightful and charming at the sight of lambs frolicking in fields and vibrant wild flowers bursting into life around the countryside. As you travel from Queenstown to Te Anau you’ll see adorable new-born lambs and fawns in the surrounding farmland.

In late spring you’ll see the bright red flowers of the Southern rata tree scattered in the dense rainforest.  The rata and pohutakawa belong to the same family of trees (the myrtle family) and are known as New Zealand’s native Christmas tree – a welcome sign that summer is on its way!

Improved weather

You’ll experience the odd rainy day when you visit Milford Sound in spring, but weather conditions are much more settled than in winter. There’s little to no snowfall so there’s less chance of the Milford Road closing and most of the winter storms have rolled on through, so you’re good to go. It pays to be prepared for any weather conditions, so always take a jacket and warm layers just in case.

A photographer’s dream

Fog around the mountains in Milford Sound in spring
Fog settles around mountains on the Milford Road

The landscape in Milford Sound is absolutely stunning in spring. Crisp early mornings, with low-lying fog swirling around forest-clad mountains. There are plenty of gushing waterfalls and rivers, impressive snow-capped mountaintops peeking out from above the fog, and you’ll see baby wildlife begging to be photographed! Since there are less people around in spring and less cruise boats in the fiord, you won’t be competing with many other people for that perfect shot.

More daylight hours

New Zealand’s daylight savings starts at the end of September which is good news for anyone interested in visiting Milford Sound at this time. If you’re self-driving, it means you’ll have more sunlight hours in the afternoon and evening to take the ride home slowly. If you’re joining a day tour, you’ll arrive back in Te Anau or Queenstown when the sun’s still shining – giving you more time to explore the city without feeling like you should be heading to bed!

Of course, the journey to Milford Sound is a spectacular one at any time of the year, but we think spring has a special way of making you appreciate the smaller things in life.  So what are you waiting for? Spring into action and visit Milford Sound in spring during September, October or November. If you’d like to find out more about day tours into Milford Sound, visit our day tours page.

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Comments (7)

Early September will be the season change from winter to spring. Is it ok to visit early September?

Kia ora Hazrul, yes, September is a great time of year to visit Milford Sound.

Is it advisable for a photographer to drive from Te Anau to Milford Sound during mid to late September? I have heard mixed stories and information about the conditions.

Kia ora Geoff, conditions on the Milford Road can change quickly – take a look at our driving info page for more detail and our recommendations: https://www.milford-sound.co.nz/travel-info/drive/

hi .. is it safe enough to drive to milford sound from queenstown around winter time ( early July )

What about touring Milford Sound during the last two weeks of August?

Kia ora Margaret, August is at the end of our winter season so if you visit Milford Sound then, we recommend bringing plenty of warm layers as it’s likely to be fairly cold. The winter months can be spectacular in Milford Sound due to the extra snow on the surrounding mountain peaks.

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