What is the difference between Milford and Doubtful Sounds?

Milford Sound at the mountainous north end of Fiordland National Park is the classic fiord - a deep-water inlet between steep sided high mountains. Milford Sound is a middle-sized fiord at around 13 kms in length and it is famous for its dramatic scenery, especially Mitre Peak. This fiord is the most accessible of Fiordland National Park's 14 fiords and it can be reached by road (coach or car) or by flight connections from Queenstown. Doubtful Sound is located in the heart of Fiordland National Park where the mountains are still very impressive but not as high as Milford Sound. Doubtful Sound is three times longer and has a sea surface area roughly ten times larger than Milford Sound. Its three arms are Hall, Crooked and First Arm. It is famous for its wilderness scenery and wildlife sightings. To travel to Doubtful Sound visitors first take a launch trip across Lake Manapouri and coach over Wilmot Pass. Visitors with enough time choose to experience both fiords as they have different characters.

What is the difference between a sound and a fiord?

Throughout Fiordland the fiords are officially, but incorrectly, mapped as sounds. A fiord is a glaciated valley - typically narrow and steep-sided - that has been flooded by the sea after the glacier’s retreat. A sound, on the other hand, is a river valley flooded by the sea following a rise in sea levels or depression of the land, or a combination of both.

What weather can I expect in Fiordland?

Four seasons in one day, as the Kiwi song goes! Rainfall is what makes Fiordland a land of lakes, rivers, streams, waterfalls and fiords. Visitors should always be prepared to enjoy some rainfall during their stay. We recommended sensible clothing for cool and wet weather to fully appreciate your stay. The temperatures you can expect in the different seasons are as follows: summer (December-February) 19-23 Celsius, autumn (March-May) 8-18 Celsius, winter (June-August) 5-9 Celsius, spring (September-November) 10-19 Celsius.

Do you still kayak when it rains?

Rain will happen in Fiordland - it's part of its dramatic beauty. Prepare for anything at any time - four seasons in one day can happen. We do not cancel due to the rain, as it's great for the thundering waterfalls. We base our decisions on the marine weather forecast, which indicates likely wind direction and strength, which is our main concern. We use proper double sea kayaks with rudders on our guided trips so that if the weather does change we can raft up and make the most of the prevailing conditions sailing and surfing.

Do you pick up from local accommodation in Te Anau?

Yes! We have complimentary pick-ups for our Doubtful Sound Full Day cruise and our Doubtful Sound overnight/multi-day kayak products. We also have coach connections available from Te Anau for some of our Milford Sound day cruise and kayak options - please ask our staff for more details.

How likely are we to see wildlife in Fiordland?

While we cannot guarantee a wildlife sighting, Fiordland is home to unique birds and wildlife; seals often chill out on rocks. On occasion dolphins, whales and the very rare Fiordland Crested Penguin visit the sounds providing privileged photo opportunities.

How long does it take to travel to Milford?

If you are travelling from Queenstown it will take around 5hrs to reach Milford. Te Anau to Milford is around 2hrs 20mins. This timing allows for stops along the way for photos or short walks to places of interest. If driving make sure you fill your vehicle with petrol in Te Anau before travelling to Milford (there are no petrol stations at Milford Sound or en route).

Where do we meet at Milford for the kayaking?

Our departure point is at Deep Water Basin, the 2nd turn off on your left at Milford Sound after the 80km sign

What do I bring and what is provided on the kayak trips?

See the 'What to bring/ what we provide' details on our rate sheets or on our website: www.goorange.nz. For multi-day tours for guided and education groups we give you a detailed equipment list when booking, or at the pre-tour meeting - great to tick off while you are packing.

What about the sandflies?

Sandflies are not a problem on the water. We suggest you bring insect repellent for Milford and Doubtful Sound day cruises and kayaking trips. Wear clothes that cover rather then expose and don't let the little pests get you down! For the guided overnight kayaking trips, as above plus we provide insect shelters - great for cooking and relaxing in.

Kayaking - how safe is it, am I fit enough, do I need any experience?

Our awesome guides, detailed safety briefings and ongoing instruction give skills and confidence to all levels. No previous experience is required on our 1 - 2 day kayak tours but confidence in the water is a must. A moderate fitness level is required. Previous experience is preferred on our 3-5 day tours.

Guided kayak or rental tours?

Our guided tours are ideal for those with or without experience. Our awesome experienced guides make the decisions, give paddling instruction, add a local flavour, interpret natural and social history. Sorry, we do not offer kayak rentals.

What is the minimum age for the Kayaking?

On most of our kayak products our minimum age is 16 years. However, children 14yrs + can kayak on our Track Taster product. We also offer specially organised trips for families and schools on the lakes (minimum age 12yrs) - each member must be big and strong enough to use a paddle.

Can we fish?

There is no fishing on any boat or kayak excursion inside the fiords due to their fragile ecosystems and marine reserve status.

Where can we camp?

Freedom campers check with DoC (Department of Conservation) or your local i-site for spots. For our overnight guided kayak tours we take care of the camping details for you.

Will I return on time from the kayaking tours?

Yes, normally. Very rarely the weather could delay your scheduled return by up to 24 hours. We recommend you have travel insurance for such a circumstance.

Will I get wet?

On the kayaking tours expect to get wet feet. So bring socks with soft shoes or sandals for kayaking and a change of footwear for after.

Kayaking safety & risk management?

Please check out our website or printed material for our safety & risk policy.