Southland
Safaris & Wildlife Activities

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Our most recommended Southland Safaris & Wildlife Activities

Milford Sound: Cruise, Underwater Observatory, and Lunch

1. Milford Sound: Cruise, Underwater Observatory, and Lunch

Explore the beauty of the fiord on a vessel that’s purpose-built for the best daytime viewing. Set off on a day-trip that includes a delicious lunch, complimentary tea and coffee, and a visit to the Milford Sound Underwater Observatory. Climb aboard a smaller vessel at the Milford Sound Cruise Terminal to discover more of the fiord on an authentic and insightful experience. Get within touching distance of impressive rock walls and waterfalls. Join the skipper in the open wheelhouse and say hello to the native seals basking on the rocks as you pass them by. A knowledgeable local guide will ensure you discover the wildlife, nature, and history of this remarkable sanctuary. Also, enjoy a delicious picnic. Visit the Milford Sound Underwater Observatory, New Zealand's only floating underwater observatory for an experience unlike any other. Hidden under the surface in Harrison Cove in the middle of Piopiotahi Marine Reserve, the Observatory enables you to experience a different perspective of the fiord. Descend 64 steps (10-metres) underwater into a large, fully air-conditioned viewing area and peer out through large windows at the deep underwater haven. Unlike an aquarium, the fish are free to come and go; it’s the people who are contained.

Milford Sound Nature Cruise with Optional Lunch

2. Milford Sound Nature Cruise with Optional Lunch

Climb aboard a purpose-built catamaran in Milford Sound Cruise Terminal and set sail across the water to discover the unique wildlife of one of South Island's most picturesque attractions. Enjoy complimentary tea and coffee onboard and pre-purchase a picnic lunch when booking. Journey down the south side of the fjord and out into the Tasman Sea, before returning up the north side of the fjord. Listen to fascinating commentary about the region from your skipper in the open wheelhouse and say hello to the native seals basking on the rocks as you pass them by.  Get within touching distance of impressive rock walls carved by glaciers thousands of years ago. Feel the full force of the powerful 15,000-year-old Stirling Falls. The friendly staff will roam the vessel available to answer your questions on the history, geology, and wildlife of the fiord along the way.

Stewart Island: 2.5-Hour Cruise and Ulva Island Guided Walk

3. Stewart Island: 2.5-Hour Cruise and Ulva Island Guided Walk

Discover Stewart Island from the water with a 2.5-hour experience including a cruise of beautiful Paterson Inlet and a 45-minute guided walk in Ulva Island Wildlife Sanctuary. Admire Paterson Inlet’s stunning scenery from hidden coves to unspoilt beaches. Hear fascinating stories of early Maori history and European settlement from your guide as you pass various landmarks. Your passionate guide will provide engaging commentary and is more than happy to answer questions. While on board, keep a lookout for fur seals, penguins and other wildlife, as sightings are common. Paterson Inlet is home to renowned wildlife sanctuary Ulva Island. Disembark here for a 45-minute guided walk with a specialist nature guide. The island is home to weka (native woodhen), bush robins, rare saddlebacks and yellowheads amongst other species. It is also a protected habitat for some of New Zealand’s rarest plant species. Relax for the remainder of the cruise around Paterson Inlet and enjoy the coastal scenery before heading back to the wharf.

Queenstown: Milford Sound Flight and Cruise

4. Queenstown: Milford Sound Flight and Cruise

Take flight a small luxury plane leaving Queenstown. Admire the awe-inspiring scenery from your very own window seat as you soar over Fiordland National Park, listening to the pilot's commentary. Landing at Milford Sound airport you will be escorted to the Cruise Terminal either by shuttle or 15 minute nature walk to meet your boat. Enjoy 2 hours of spectacular scenery and wildlife on the Gem of the Sound, learn all about the history of the area from the skipper as he skillfully pulls the boat underneath waterfalls and right up to the base of famous Mitre Peak. Your pilots will meet you off the cruise at the Terminal and take you back to the awaiting plane for your return to Queenstown. Your complimentary shuttle will drop you back to your hotel with plenty of time to enjoy the legendary dining scene.

Te Anau: Milford Sound Bus, Cruise, Observatory, and Lunch

5. Te Anau: Milford Sound Bus, Cruise, Observatory, and Lunch

Set off on a day trip from Te Anau to Milford Sound and enjoy a more intimate and in-depth experience of Milford Sound. Discover the native wildlife, towering waterfalls, and majestic mountains of the fiord on an intimate cruise on a smaller boat. Journey through spectacular landscapes as your experienced, local bus driver provides engaging and informative commentary. Enjoy short walks and photo stops along Milford Road. Arrive at Milford Sound and relax on a nature cruise with a freshly prepared picnic lunch onboard. Get within touching distance of impressive rock walls and up close to Stirling Falls. Your passionate skipper will share their local knowledge with lively and informative commentary. Visit Milford Sound Underwater Observatory along the way. Descend 60 steps down a spiral staircase into a spacious viewing chamber to discover the unique and beautiful environment hidden under the surface of Milford Sound. Cruise back to the Milford Sound Visitor Centre to re-join the bus for the return journey to Te Anau.

Milford Sound Fiord Cruise & Helicopter Glacier Landing

6. Milford Sound Fiord Cruise & Helicopter Glacier Landing

Discover Milford Sound's stunning fjord from high in the air and on the water. Land in Milford and join an unforgettable fjord cruise past sheer cliffs and gushing waterfalls.Try to spot dolphins, seals, and adorable penguins. Then enjoy an exhilarating flight past spectacular rivers, valleys, and mountains with blue-green ice falls, and experience a glacier or mountain landing in the heart of Fiordland National Park. Today, many of the local landscapes can be recognized because of their use as film locations. You can even fly over where movies were filmed! The pilots regularly work with film production crews and are happy to share plenty of stories of life on the film set. Finally, for the photo opportunity of a lifetime, alight on a glacier and enjoy panoramic views. These highly experienced, well-known local pilots can’t wait to share with you their extensive knowledge and history of the area while showing you the best of New Zealand's amazing scenery. Please note that there may not be snow on the day of your flight depending on the season, especially during summer.

From Queenstown: Milford Sound Full-Day Tour with Lunch

7. From Queenstown: Milford Sound Full-Day Tour with Lunch

In the heart of Fiordland National Park, Milford Sound is known as one of New Zealand’s top scenic attractions. On this day tour from Queenstown, jump on board an air-conditioned coach and be entertained with commentary from your driver/guide. After passing through the 1.2-kilometer-long Homer Tunnel, descend into Milford Sound. Here jump on board a boat to cruise along the fjord. Take in the famous sights, like the uniquely-shaped Mitre Peak and the glacier-scarred rock. Keep an eye out for marine life like dolphins, seals, and penguins too. The fjord is dotted with waterfalls that tumble through the valleys and crash into the sound far below, making the scenery in Milford Sound spectacular, rain or shine.

Milford Sound: Small-Group Tour from Te Anau

8. Milford Sound: Small-Group Tour from Te Anau

Travel from Te Anau alongside New Zealand's largest lake and into glacier-carved valleys before reaching Milford Sound on this full-day tour. Enjoy live commentary with lots of information along the way. Take in the best parts of Fiordland – the largest National Park in New Zealand. Ride in comfort in a small coach with plenty of leg room. Be on the lookout for a wide variety of native birds en route. Enjoy a cruise on Milford Sound on a small-to-medium-sized vessel with a capacity of 70 passengers. See seals, dolphins, and Fiordland crested penguins. Learn about the geology of the fiord from commentary provided in English. Marvel at the towering mountains and numerous waterfalls.

Milford Sound & Te Anau 2-Day Small-Group Tour

9. Milford Sound & Te Anau 2-Day Small-Group Tour

Day 1: Leaving Queenstown, travel around Lake Wakatipu with amazing views of "The Remarkables" Mountain Range with some stops to take fantastic photos. Then, enter Fiordland National Park and visit Eglinton Valley, Mirror Lakes, Lake Gunn, Hollyford River, Falls Creek, the Darran Mountains, and Homer Tunnel. Next, board your cruise on a small boat for an informative and personal tour of Milford Sound. Get closer to the wildlife and nature, including the New Zealand fur seals basking on the rocks. See massive rock faces rising hundreds of meters out of the sea and waterfalls cascading from ancient rainforest high in the mountains. Marvel at the awe-inspiring Mitre Peak, an iconic steep triangular peak, rising high up above the reflective waters. As day 1 comes to a close, enjoy an overnight stay in Te Anau where you can have dinner at a local restaurant or take an evening stroll around the lake. Day 2: Start Day 2 with pickup from your hotel and first visit the Te Anau Bird Sanctuary. Take a guided tour of the sanctuary and see some of the rarest birds in the country, including the Takahe and Kaka. Visit your first Lord of the Rings attraction at the Dead Marshes and Rainbow Reach. Enjoy a viewpoint overlooking The Dead Marshes from an elevated position. At Rainbow Reach a cable bridge over the Waiau River, known as The River Anduin in the movie series leads you into the forest and Kepler Track. Next, explore the shores of Lake Manapouri and hear more about its history. Have a quick break at one of the local coffee shops before heading to the Mavora Lakes, which is one of the most famous LOTR sites in the region. After some free time here, continue back to Te Anau where you can take part in some more optional activities, with the final drop-off in Queenstown in the early evening.

Queenstown: Small-Group Tour to Milford Sound with Cruise

10. Queenstown: Small-Group Tour to Milford Sound with Cruise

Join a fully-guided, small-group day tour from Queenstown or Te Anau to the world-renowned Milford Sound; the crowning jewel of Fiordland. Highlights of the drive will include Lake Wakatipu, the Devil’s Staircase, the truly majestic mountains of Fiordland, Mirror Lake, the Chasm, and Homer Tunnel. You will also enjoy multiple stops along the way for photo opportunities and Kea bird spotting (the world’s largest alpine parrot). You will then travel through the mind-blowing Homer Tunnel, emerging as the valley descends sharply down to Milford Sound, with its hundreds of waterfalls cascading into the crystal clear waters beneath. At Milford Sound you will take an intimate cruise on a smaller boat that gets right up close with nature and wildlife. Onboard your cruise you will have up-close views of thousands of waterfalls, Mitre Peak, as well as local wildlife, providing you with hundreds of amazing photo opportunities along the way. Following your cruise you will begin the return journey back to Queenstown, stopping again in Te Anau for a quick break. At the end of the day, your guide will drop you back to your Queenstown accommodation, or you can opt to upgrade to a scenic, one-way flight back from Milford instead (to be booked during the booking process). Choose this option for the ultimate view over the mountains and region during your return journey.

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What people are saying about Southland

Overall rating

5.0 / 5

based on 6 reviews

From start to finish this trip was awesome. The plane was a special experience flying just above the mountains in a 12 seater plane with fantastic views on all sides. Milford sound boat was equally impressive with beautiful waterfalls and great commentary along the way and great sights to see. Price was also affordable. Would definitely recommend this trip.

The guide was extremely knowledgeable about the island, the flora and fauna. So good to have experienced such close interaction with some very rare birds. These tours provide financing to keep up the conservation efforts of these staff and such a.privaledge to be able to see these rare birds up close. Keep up the great work team

We had the best time Flight with Elliot, who took special care and attention pre flight and gave us great insight into the area during our journey to and from Milford sound. The cruise on the sound was also fantastic, just enough to capture all the great features and falls available. All round well worth recommending

Absolutely awesome trip. Definitely the 8th wonder of the world. Mother Nature in her purest form.

Bloody amazing , i would do it again tomorrow, it was my number one on my NZ bucket list