Pros and cons of Milford Sound in winter

Milford Sound is made fabulous by the snow and cold, and there are many reasons to put Fiordland on your travel list during winter.

The months of May to September mark winter in Fiordland.  The days become shorter and cooler, mountains become covered in snow, and the pace of life slows in the local community.  Fiordland isn’t better or worse in winter. Milford Sound is made fabulous by the snow and cold, and there are many reasons to put Fiordland on your travel list.  It’s really about what type of experience you want to have.  Visit Fiordland in winter for the opportunity to try something entirely different and get out of your comfort zone - to create incredible memories!

I have come up with a list of the pros and cons of Fiordland in winter.


1. Travel without the crowds – few people travel to Fiordland in winter so you get to experience the true wilderness and beauty of the area in relative solitude.  Also with fewer people around your plans can be more flexible as space is likely to be available.

2. Milford Sound looks incredible – Fiordland in winter is characterised by still, clear days against a backdrop of snow covered mountains.  The most beautiful vistas are experienced in winter and are a photographers delight. Our Milford Sound winter excursion is the ultimate way to experience this World Heritage destination during the cooler time of the year. 

3. Wildlife – Native birds seek shelter and food in the valleys and around the town, so viewing is easier.  The Kea bird in particular is a lot of fun to experience up-close. Marine mammals including seals, penguins and dolphins still frequent the fiords.  The only thing we see less of is the Sandfly - making your visit much more pleasant!

4. Connect with locals – winter is a time when the local community slows down and comes together.  Consequently you’ll find people are in a better mood, and you’re more likely to be invited to join in.

5. Get a Deal – as the people disappear, so does the peak season rates. Winter is a great time to travel on a budget or with the family.


1. Temperatures drop – yes there is no escaping this fact in Fiordland, it gets very cold! The winter sun is at a low angle and frosts produce ice on the sunless valley floors.  However modern clothing is warm, relatively inexpensive and readily available – so dress for the conditions and make the most of it. 

2. Daylight hours are minimnal – the days are shorter and darkness falls early.  If you have a car, plan to drive during the day and don’t rush your experience.

3. Not everything is open - the Great Walks and alpine tracks are not suitable for hiking in winter, but there are still forest walks available on the Kepler Track and in the Hollyford Valley area.  A team of experts actively manage the Milford Road to ensure your safety and keep the road passable.  Some attractions and restaurants close or opening hours become limited, but there are still plenty of opportunities to ensure your travel is memorable.

So in summary the pros easily outweigh the cons, and Fiordland is worth a visit in winter.  If you need help to plan your stay or need further convincing do not hesitate to contact Trips & Tramps. We are only too happy to share our local knowledge, enthusiastic spirit for the area and assist with logistics of your journey.

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