Mitre Peak, Fiordland. © Timothy Chan

Mitre Peak and Milford Sound: seeing is believing

View the map


Many visitors to Fiordland don’t believe in Mitre Peak. The tour guide on their boat trip points to a bluff rising vertically into the curtain of low cloud and announces that if only it were clear, that’s where the majestic vista familiar to consumers of postcards the world over could be seen.

Yeah right, the sceptics mutter, and depart, darkly suspecting that the pictures of the great triangular peak rising from its inverse in the mirror-smooth waters of the Sound were cleverly put together with Photoshop.

But even those who miss out on seeing the area’s A-list celebrity peak won’t leave Milford Sound disappointed. When you visit in the rain – and with rain falling on over 200 days out of 365, there’s a pretty high chance you will – you’ll see it with all the taps turned on, and that’s a sight to behold. Over 100 waterfalls start gushing from the sheer walls of the Sound. The largest of these, Stirling Falls, crashes 146m from the rocky cleft from which it issues to the glassy sea.

The Sound – okay, for the pedants, it’s really a fiord – is the sight for sore eyes that greets walkers emerging from the Milford Track, but it can be reached by road via the Homer Tunnel and by air as well. To appreciate it fully, you need to get out on the water, whether on one of the many cruises available or by kayak.

A perfectly still moment in Milford Sound 📷: @hamishstubbs

A post shared by Milford Sound, New Zealand (@mitrepeakcruises) on Aug 18, 2016 at 9:48pm PDT

The intrepid can join a guided scuba party, and be rewarded with a close-up look at black coral. This usually occurs well below the depths to which recreational divers can safely go, but at Milford a layer of tannin-rich fresh water sits atop the seawater, recreating the twilight of the abyss in the shallows.

Or you can cheat: anyone who can handle a descent of the spiral staircase of the Milford Sound marine observatory can get the same view.

Many of the other peaks crowding to the margins of the long waterway nudge 2000 metres. The highest of Mitre Peak’s five summits rears 1683 metres from the water, and the water itself at its deepest point is 420 metres straight down. But in the end, the numbers mean nothing. The ineffable scale and grandeur of this landscape has to be experienced to be believed.

And if Mitre Peak does deign to reveal itself on the day of your visit, prepare to have your flabber well and truly gasted.

Explore more...

Be the first to comment on this page. You cannot post comments until you have logged in. Please log in or register if you don't have an account.

More stories like this

Find out more

Things to do

Paddle a kayak in Milford Sound

Milford Sound is the best-known and most accessible of all the fiords in Fiordland National Park. Read the story . . . 

Find out more

Natural attractions

Fiordland National Park: the eighth wonder

Fiordland National Park is home to what many consider New Zealand’s most stunning natural attraction – the breathtaking Milford Sound, also known as the eighth wonder of the world. Read the story . . . 

Find out more

Things to do

Milford Sound Lookout Track

Enjoy impressive views of stunning Milford Sound from a lookout on this short, easy walking track. But take sandfly repellent with you!  Read the story . . . 

Find out more

Road trips

Te Anau to Milford Sound Piopiotahi Highway: the journey into the heart of Fiordland.

If you want to take in Fiordland’s wilderness, vastness and beauty without being drenched in that seemingly perpetual rain, take the Piopiotahi Highway. Read the story . . . 

Fiordland Region Where to stay in

4.7 /5
4.7 /5
Fiordland Lakeview Apartments & Motel Visit website

Stunning lakeviews from your apartment Spectacular lakefront accommodation with lake and mountain views from every apartment. Consisting of a luxury 2-bedroom, self-contained apartment with spa . . . More . . . 

YHA Te Anau

On the edge of the Fiordland National Park, YHA Te Anau is the perfect location to access some of the world-famous NZ hikes. . . . More . . . 

4.2 /5
4.2 /5
Edgewater Te Anau Motel Visit website

Free WiFi internet to all rooms All rooms are self contained including kitchenette, bathroom and linens and towels. Friendly family operated Motel Sheltered motel located . . . More . . . 

Milford Sound Overnight Cruises - Real Journeys Visit website

An overnight cruise exploring the magnificent Milford Sound is a unique dinner, bed and breakfast experience With our nature guide and friendly crew, you will . . . More . . .