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Waterfalls in Milford Sound

Milford Sound is one of the wettest places in New Zealand. Combine heavy rainfall with steep mountain faces and you get some of the best waterfalls in New Zealand. Milford Sound’s waterfalls are spectacular and ever-changing, some permanent, some temporary. If it has rained within 24 hours of your cruise, you’ll see the cascades of water at their best.
Keep an eye out for these five amazing waterfalls in Milford Sound.
1. Bowen Falls (Lady Bowen Falls)

The glorious Lady Bowen Waterfall is the highest in Milford Sound, measuring 162 metres high. The falls are named after the wife of Sir George Bowen, one of New Zealand’s early governors in the 1870’s. This spectacular waterfall is one of only two permanent waterfalls in Milford Sound and tumbles from a classic hanging valley in the Darren Mountain Range.

This waterfall isn't just nice to look at - it also provides water and electricity for the small settlement at Milford Sound.

You can see Bowen Falls from a Pure Milford Cruise, a scenic flight, a kayak trip, or via a short 30-minute walk from the wharf at Milford Sound. The track is a great walk through native bush, ending at a spectacular viewing point which gives you great views over the waterfalls and wider Milford Sound.

2. Stirling Falls

The mighty Stirling Falls is the second largest permanent waterfall in Milford Sound. It drops 155 metres from a beautiful U-shaped hanging valley carved out between Elephant and Lion Mountains. It's fed by glaciers situated in the mountains behind. The waterfall is named after Captain Stirling, who sailed the HMS Cleo into Milford Sound during the 1870s.

You can see this waterfall in the distance when standing on the shore in Milford Sound, but it's best enjoyed from the deck of a Pure Milford boat!

3. Fairy Falls

One of Milford Sound’s prettiest permanent waterfalls, Fairy Falls drops right into the water of Milford Sound. Weather permitting, cruise boats can sail right under the falls so you can be drenched in the refreshing spray. The water from Fairy Falls is so pure you can drink it!

4. Bridal Veil Falls

This one is named because the sheer white curtain resembles a bride's veil. It's a semi-permanent waterfall, which means it can get smaller over drier summer months and is most impressive after heavy rain.

5. The Four Sisters

A set of four waterfalls carving parallel tracks down a cliff face, the Four Sisters only come out in full force after a decent rain. They are all identical in size. 

You can only reach the Four Sisters from a boat tour.

Honourable mentions

You can see more wonderful waterfalls on your way to Milford Sound. If you have time, we recommend checking out these falls.


You'll have to make a bit of an effort to get to Humboldt Falls, but it's well worth the trip - this 275-metre high cascade is one of the most impressive in all Fiordland. To get there, detour from the Milford Sound road to Hollyford Road. You'll find parking at the end of Hollyford Road. From there, it's a 20-minute walk one-way along a well-maintained track.


One of the most popular stops along the road to Milford Sound, the Chasm is a series of small waterfalls and unique rock pools carved into the mountainside by glacial water. It's a great little bushwalk and an excellent photo opportunity. *Currently closed for repairs*


Sutherland Falls is an epic 580 metres high. To see this amazing sight, you'll need to tackle the Milford Sound track, which is a four-day hike. The other option is to take a scenic flight. This is a whole lot easier, plus you'll get a better view of the waterfall as it tumbles out of the elevated Lake Quill.  


Bursting straight out of a cliff face, surrounded by emerald-green native bush, and with a clear pool at its feet, this waterfall is worth the trek to get there. From Milford Sound, you'll need to walk up the Milford Track for about one hour to reach the Giant Gates. Or, if you have hiked the whole track, this will be one of the last sights you'll enjoy before reaching Milford.

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