Milford Sound vs Doubtful Sound - Fiordland National Park

Fiordland National Park is no doubt on your New Zealand bucket list, but how do you choose between Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound?

New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park is a natural masterpiece 100,000 years in the making. Nestled on the southwest coast, it is a kaleidoscope of towering granite peaks, cascading waterfalls, and breathtaking waterways. It has earned its bragging rights as one of the most picturesque places in New Zealand, and both Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound vie for the top spot when it comes to scenery within the Fiordland National Park. So, which do you choose?

Milford Sound

The most popular of the fiords, Milford Sound snakes approximately 16 kilometres to the Tasman Sea. It draws crowds from around the world with its tumbling waterfalls and towering peaks. Being one of the wettest places in the world, it nurtures lush foliage that clings to the rock facades and decorates the mountainsides. The weather is no deterrent, instead the rainfall serves the waterways and flora that makes Milford Sound so attractive.


Being the only fiord in New Zealand accessible by road, the trip out to Milford Sound has plenty of bragging rights of its own. Milford Road graces visitors with stunning mountain passes and panoramic views that never fail to impress. Its accessibility is likely one of the reasons it is so heavily visited, and compounded with its beauty, is expected to attract over 1 million visitors in 2019.

Doubtful Sound

Doubtful Sound sees fewer visitors, however, those who make the trip will be glad they did! Doubtful Sound stretches 40 kilometres and is the deepest of the New Zealand fiords, plummeting an incredible 421 meters. Its deep blue waters are home to an abundance of wildlife including bottlenose dolphins, penguins and fur seals – and who could blame them? It is a beautiful and pristine ecosystem to call home.


With no direct road access, Doubtful Sound is a secluded gem. Visitors will cruise across Lake Manapouri and then drive over Wilmot Pass to get there. When you reach your destination, you’ll understand why it has been dubbed the ‘Sound of Silence’. Glide past curtains of water spilling into the indigo pools and soak up the serenity as nature turns it on at Doubtful Sound.


You can visit either Milford Sound or Doubtful Sound on a tour of New Zealand’s South Island and if you simply can’t choose (we don’t blame you!), Global Journeys offers tours that visit both Milford and Doubtful Sound in our New Zealand tour collection.

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