It's probably one of the most recommended activities for travelers headed to New Zealand's south island and it sure doesn't disappoint. A cruise on Milford Sound is an absolute must on any visit to Fiordland. With the gorgeous blue water, the peaks surrounding the sound, and the possibility of seeing penguins - it just doesn't get much better.
You'll have a lot of options for selecting the type of cruise that best fits your interests and budget. They do run on the pricey side, so for our budget the most basic 2 hour adventure was best suited for us. We opted to go with Real Journeys for a lunch time cruise since they provided a gluten free friendly boxed lunch option.
While the cruise itself was sand-fly free (they can't keep up with the boat) - we did encounter quite a number of them in the shady areas around the terminal. But again, once you're moving all is well and good.
As far as more pleasant creature spotting goes; we saw a number of seals lounging on rocky beaches and even a few crested penguins!
The cruise navigates past a number of beautiful waterfalls and often the boats will get up close and personal with them - so you can feel a little spray if you'd like. Eventually you'll make your way all the way out to the Tasman Sea and where gorgeous views along the Fiordland coast await.
By far the most fascinating part of the cruise was learning about tree avalanches. You see all those stripes of rock amidst the the green covered cliffs? Well, the tree's here grow on those vertical faces by forming a sort of web with anchor points. When some of those anchor points fail, you get a tree avalanche where the entire web pulls off the side of the face and tumbles down into the sound.
If you get the opportunity to take a cruise on Milford Sound, take it! The closest town to stay in will be Te Anau which is about an hour and 30 minute drive a way (but don't roll your eyes at the drive time - it's just as gorgeous as the sound itself). In Te Anau, I'd highly recommend staying at Blue Thistle Cottages and you'll find plenty of gluten free options in town as well.