For those interested in exploring Milford Sound via kayak, a range of kayaking trips are available and no prior experience is required. Here are important things to know before you hit the water:
Earlier is Better
The conditions on Milford Sound are calmest in the morning and it’s a beautiful time to be on the water. As the day progresses the wind tends to pick up, the water gets choppy, and boat traffic increases. Some Milford Sound kayaking tours depart in the afternoon but the morning is ideal and the earlier the better.
Milford Sound Kayaking Guides
Rosco’s Milford Kayaks
Rosco’s is locally owned and operated and offers a number of well-regarded kayaking trips on Milford Sound. In addition to knowledgeable guides, one of Rosco's strongest selling points is that they hit the water early: the “Morning Glory” starts around 6:00am and the “Sunriser Classic” starts around 7:30am. There also is the 9:00am “Stirling Sunriser” and 1:00pm “Afternoon Delight.” All trips range from 5–6 hours total.
For experienced kayakers or those up for a challenge, try Rosco’s “Morning Glory” which paddles the full length of Milford Sound out to the Tasman Sea (returning on the Sea Shuttle). The other kayaking trips make a much smaller loop from either Deep Water Basin or Stirling Falls.
Fiordland Wilderness Adventures
For travelers staying in Te Anau, Fiordland Wilderness Adventures offers convenient morning transportation to Milford Sound departing from Te Anau around 6:30am. The downside is that their kayaking trips start later (around 8:30am) meaning that you will miss some of the prime hours on the water.
In addition to day trips on Milford Sound, Fiordland Wilderness Adventures runs overnight trips on Doubtful Sound from 2–5 days as well as an extraordinary 6-day kayaking expedition through Dusky and Breaksea Sounds.
Safety, Equipment, and Weather
Kayakers will get a full safety briefing before heading out into Milford Sound. The guides provide full paddling gear including a life jacket, spray skirt and spray jacket, thermals, gloves, and a dry bag for cameras. In the rare case that you capsize, your guide will be nearby to help you back into the boat.
Milford Sound is one of the wettest places on earth and precipitation is to be expected. High winds are dangerous and can lead to trip cancellations but rain shouldn’t be any deterrent. Make sure to bring warm clothing that covers your legs and arms to keep the sandflies away.