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Milford Kayaking Trips

Kayak in Milford Sound

The paddle of a lifetime for experts or beginners

Gliding along at water level, the enormity of Milford Sound is unmissable. Explore this area once carved by mighty glaciers as they made their way to the sea. A small group kayaking adventure for experts or beginners led by a knowledgeable guide. Kayaking on Milford Sound is an incredible complement to a Milford Sound cruise, but for many, it’s the only way to see Milford Sound.

We recommend Rosco’s Milford Kayaks for kayaking on Milford Sound. Known by many as the Mayor of Milford, Rosco has been operating for more than two decades and attracts an incredible team of top-class guides to work with him. The wonder of Milford Sound is all yours as you paddle into a World Heritage area and may even experience a close encounter with the marine wildlife that regularly frequents the fiord.

How to choose the best Milford Sound kayak trip

Whether it’s gentle sightseeing or a physical challenge, you’re sure to find a kayak trip to suit your physical ability and timeframe. Some trips are designed for novice paddlers and require only a moderate level of physical effort. Others like the Morning Glory will challenge you with a paddle of the length of the fiord. All the specialist paddling gear you need is provided, including a buoyancy aid, spray skirt, spray jacket, thermals, a fleece, poggies (like gloves but better), a dry bag for your camera.

A double kayak heads towards a waterfall. One of the Milford Sound Lodge activities.

The most popular kayaking trips in Milford Sound

Sunriser Classic 10 km, 3-3.5 hours paddling, Departs Deepwater Basin

Very popular with couples and friends, this morning trip is around 3.5 hrs of paddling and takes you in a loop of the inner part of Milford Sound. Using paddle power, you will see some of Milford’s most spectacular sights like waterfalls, Mitre Peak and maybe wildlife.

Ability level: Suitable for all levels of kayaking experience. 

Stirling Sunriser

A favourite for the more intrepid, this trip involves taking a water taxi out beyond Stirling Falls (151m), then slowly paddling back to Milford Sound. A highlight of this experience is paddling as close as you dare to Milford’s most famous waterfall.

Ability level: Some previous kayaking experience necessary, adults only 

Morning Glory

Also popular with intrepid adventurers, Morning Glory is a hugely rewarding kayaking experience. Paddle the length of Milford Sound to the Tasman Sea (weather permitting) before returning to Milford Sound by water taxi. This is a premium and unforgettable sea kayaking adventure, leaving in the early morning.

Ability level: Suitable for experienced kayakers, adults only

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Do I need to know how to paddle?

No previous paddling experience is needed for some trips and other trips do require previous experience and a minimum level of fitness and ability. Before each trip a comprehensive instruction session is provided to all paddlers, regardless of previous experience.

What level of fitness is required?

Paddling is a physical activity but does not require a high level of fitness. The trips are designed to provide an enjoyable recreational and environmental experience – it is not a race!! If you can walk for over an hour you should have no problems. Some calm days you will hardly notice that you are using your muscles.

What is the minimum age for all trips and what is the guide to paddler ratio?

The minimum age is different for all trips (see below for minimum ages) and the ratio is always one guide to eight (or less) guests.

  • Milford Cruiser - 8 years (paired with adult)
  • Sunriser Classic - 14 years
  • Morning Glory & Afternoon Delight & Twilight Wind & Waves - 16 years

Do we need any specialist paddling gear?

All paddling gear is provided including a buoyancy aid, spray skirt, spray jacket, thermals, a fleece, poggies (like gloves but better), a dry bag for your camera. Check with your guide if you have your own thermals (polypropylene) and would prefer to use them.

How often do kayak trips go out on the fiord?

In summer, trips leave early in the morning and late in the afternoon. In winter this is reduced to one morning trip a day.

The morning trips are designed to capitalise on the calm waters first thing in the day. The afternoon trips make the most of the breezes that occur later in the day, either kayaking in protected waters or starting the trip out in the fiord and riding the wind and waves back to the kayaking base.

What boats do we paddle in?

Sea Kayaks. These kayaks are designed for open water paddling, so are very stable and waterproof, keeping the paddler dry and surprisingly comfortable. There is always the possibility of getting wet so a spare set of clothes to change into is recommended for your return.

Is kayaking a good winter activity (April –October)?

It may be a bit colder but there are many reasons why kayaking is a great addition to your winter Milford visit plans. Here’s what a few winter paddles had to say:

“More settled weather conditions usually result in very calm water – ideal for exploring Milford from a sea kayak.”
“Less motorboats cruising Milford. More peace and tranquillity – just the splash of our paddles.”
“More photo opportunities often mirror-like reflections of famous icons like mile-high Mitre Peak.”
“Less sandflies and often none at all. Let’s face it; this would make your day in paradise even better!”

Do we get a boat each?

This depends on the kayak trip you choose. Longer, guided paddling trips with Rosco’s Milford Kayaks are conducted in double kayaks (for two people). This is to allow paddlers to travel faster and experience more of the fiord. Two people generally paddle faster than one. Another advantage of using double kayaks is increased stability and comfort. There are generally four double kayaks (8 people) in a group with one guide in a single kayak.

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