Milford Sound is one of those places that’s incredible all year round. Truly. Whatever the weather – come hail, snow, rain or shine – the natural beauty of Fiordland, and New Zealand in general, speaks volumes. But of course, there are some pros and cons to visiting at certain times of the year. We’ve broken down what to expect during each season to help you decide when your plan your trip. It’s also worth noting that Milford Sound is one of the wettest places in New Zealand – but rain is exactly what you want to see all of the wonderful waterfalls. It rains about 200 days per, so you should expect at least some rain no matter when you visit. 

Spring (Sep-Dec)

Best for: waterfalls, wildlife, fewer crowds, more daylight

Spring is a great time to visit before the big summer crowds arrive. The Milford Track will be less busy and there are fewer distractions (boats and people) to enjoy the scenery. The cold winter weather starts to fizzle out, new life starts blossoming all around and there are more daylight hours to explore (daylight savings starts at the end of September). You’ll still get some heavy rainfall, but most of the harsh winter weather and storms have been and gone. Plus, melting snow and downpours make the existing waterfalls swell even more, and new ones appear out of nowhere. Another spring treat is seeing adorable little lambs and fawns scampering around the fields.

Summer (Dec-March)

Best for: higher chance of clear views, hiking, mild weather 

Be prepared for bigger crowds. It’s definitely not a deal-breaker, but the mild summer weather attracts throngs of tourists. Average daily temperatures linger just below 20°C, although it can often feel quite humid due to being a mountainous region surrounded by so much water. You’ll still get plenty of rain in the warmer months, but there’s not as much as the cooler seasons so the waterfalls might not be as spectacular. Summer is also a great time to go hiking and there’s a higher chance of clear skies to see the mountain scenery. 

Autumn (March-June)

Best for: hiking, mild weather 

Milford Sound doesn’t offer the typical yellow and orange scenes that autumn usually brings, as most of New Zealand’s native flora stays green all year round. But what it does offer is mild, pleasant weather that’s ideal for hiking. The days start to draw in earlier, but the weather is still mild enough to enjoy being ou without loads of layers. The temperature drops towards the end of the season so ensure you pack adequate clothing. Another advantage is that you’ll miss the hoards of tourists that were here just a few weeks ago. This means you'll have a higher chance of seeing dolphins as there are fewer boats out on the water.

Winter (June-Sep)

Best for: waterfalls, fewer crowds, wildlife spotting 

Winter might be cold, but it’s way less crowded. You’ll have many of Milford Sound’s natural wonders (almost) all to yourself. This includes pods of dolphins and whales and colonies of fur seals who often like to pop up to the surface to see what’s going on. The bottlenose dolphins who live here are known to be playful and often chase boats.  

If you’re a cataractophile (AKA a lover of waterfalls), winter is calling your name. Torrential downpours turn already spectacular waterfalls into one of Mother Nature’s greatest shows as water gushes down the cliffs into the sea. It sounds strange, but you actually want the weather to be a bit wet and gloomy in Milford Sound. The Fiordland was formed by extreme and unpredictable weather, and there’s something about the moody skies that make the scenery look extra dramatic. You’ll definitely want to bring your thermals and a warm winter coat as it can feel very chilly.

Average monthly temperatures in Milford Sound

MONTH

AVERAGE HIGH (°C)  

January 

17

February

18

March

15

April

12

May 8
June  6
July 5
August  7
September 9
October  10
November  13
December  16

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