When to Go to Milford Sound

Ship sailing through Milford Sound
Milford Sound

Milford Sound by season

Milford Sound is the wettest inhabited spot in New Zealand, so rain is inevitable. The good news is that the rainfall is pretty consistent throughout the year, and that wet days are a bonus, as they bring out the waterfalls along the cliff edges, and make the whole experience far more dramatic. To help you choose when’s best to travel, we’ve split the year into its four seasons:

Spring in Milford Sound, New Zealand
Spring

September to November

Spring is a delightful time to explore Milford Sound. Temperatures are mild – around 16°C – making outdoor activities such as kayaking possible, although do note that rainfall is common in October. Flowers and plants begin to bloom in spring, making the mountains and cliffs particularly attractive, but look out for the chilly evenings, where temperatures hover around 7°C.

Summer in Milford Sound, New Zealand
Summer

December to February

Summer is the peak rainfall season, and so the best time to catch Milford Sound’s dramatic waterfalls in action. The surrounding forests also come to life, bursting into bright greens, and when the sun comes out and temperatures hit around 20°C, days here can be truly glorious. Look out for occasional humid days though, and drink plenty of water if you’re out hiking.

Autumn in Milford Sound, New Zealand
Autumn

March to May

The forests around Milford Sound mainly consist of conifer trees, so the area doesn’t experience such a dramatic transition of autumn leaf colours as other areas of New Zealand. Temperatures drop to around 12°C, and snow is not unheard of at this time, so it’s best to bring some warm clothing. When the sun is out, autumn’s clear blue skies make this a lovely time to visit.

Winter in Milford Sound, New Zealand
Winter

June to August

In winter, Milford Sound’s temperature averages just 6-11°C. While this brings cooler weather (don’t forget to wrap up warm!) and means kayaking is most likely out of the question, it is the ideal time to spot seals and penguins at their most active, as well as being a great time to snap some delightful photos of the peaks of Fiordland all covered in snow.

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