1% of Every Sale Go To Environmental Non-profits


Your Cart is Empty

April 12, 2018 3 Comments

Milford Sound is one of those locations that you owe yourself to have in your portfolio if you are a landscape photographer.

Located in the South Island of New Zealand, it is one of those iconic places that has everything you can look for: sharp mountains that dive into the water, lush vegetation, heaps of compositions and most important of all (well, for me at least) it has a huge potential for reflections!

The Shot

Milford sound New Zealand.

Photo: Nico Babot

Now, while this location is fairly easy to access (by New Zealand standards…), it can be quite time consuming to get there and if you only have a few weeks in NZ, you might want to make sure you will get there when it is at its best.

Here are a few tips I wish I had known before I went there the first time, and some insights of what went into shooting this image… (above)

How do you get to Milford Sound?

How-to-get-to-milford-sound google maps
There are two ways to access Milford sound: driving and flying.
While the latter will provide you some amazing views on Fiordland and the southern alps, I don’t recommend you to fly. And here is why: planes don’t run at night in that part of New Zealand, which means you will not be able to be on location at those time of the day. Set aside the obvious reason why you would want to be there at sunset, there is another one, less obvious.
This place is very popular, with 30% of the visitors coming to New Zealand visiting that remote location. This can be a very underwhelming experience to be there in the middle of the day. But don’t worry, there is a silver lining to this: if you are staying for the night, you will most likely have the place for yourself after 4pm. Well, that is if you don’t count the sandflies (more about this later…)

How did I take my Image of the Iconic Milford Sound?

The shot was taken at sunset. For me this is the best time of the day to shoot that location (as opposed to sunrise) with the most chances to get an interesting sky.

Sunrise can work too but because you are on the west side of the southern alps, you will not get any light on the mountains before late in the morning. So forget about this pink light hitting the summit, this is not the place for it.

topo map of milford sound

Why did I choose this particular composition?

If you’ve looked at some of my other photos, you’ll know that I am always looking for reflections and Milford Sound is a great place to find them. This composition aims at emphasizing that reflection: there is no foreground, nothing can give you a clue of what is up or down, and the horizon line is straight in the middle, accentuating this idea of symmetry.

The other important thing I wanted to highlight from this location is Mitre peak that rises over 1,690m. The cloud is creating the perfect leading line to drive your eye to it, but I also waited for the sun to start disappearing behind it in order to create an interesting element that also drives your eye to the peak.

composition of a photo in milford sound

What gear did I use?

person taking a photo in milford sound

Most of my shots are taken with a 16-35mm lens at f8 which is the sweet spot for that lens. While I used the same lens, I did change my settings for this one in order to create a sunstar. To get this effect, I lowered my aperture to f16, with shutter speed of 1/60s.

In order to improve the dynamic range, I also used a .9 graduated filterthat helped lowering the exposure of the sky.


Feeling ready to fly to NZ and take a similar shot of Milford Sound?

Wait a second, there are a few more things you might want to know before you book your flight…


With an annual rainfall of 6,412 mm each year, Milford Sound is known as the wettest inhabited place in New Zealand and one of the wettest in the world. To give you a comparison, the annual rainfall in Hanoi Vietnam is 1,680 mm… yes, it is nearly 4 times the amount… And Hanoi is not known as a dry place!

So my advice to you: take a raincoat and check the weather forecast:

weather forecast milford sound


Tides and mud:

The bay in Milford sound is quite shallow near the shore, which means two things: when the tide comes, it comes fast, and when the tide is low, there is a lot of mud. So my advice is to bring waterproof boots and check the tide times to avoid any bad surprises.

Weather forecast milford sound


The sandflies:

Remember at the beginning when I told you’d be alone if you shoot at sunrise or sunset in Milford Sound? Well, I lied. Thousands of sandflies will be keeping you company, and those little creatures are very affectionate. I personally don’t mind them but they can drive you mad if you are not use to them. So my advice: wear long sleeves and pants. Even if it is a warm evening of summer.

Also, check the front of your lens because they tend to like flying around and you might end up with black spots all over your picture if you don’t get them to move along…

Overall, I hope that the sandflies will not put you off, as Milford is definitely worth spending a little time. If you have any other advice regarding this location, don’t hesitate to share them with me in the comments.

– Nico Babot

Images: Nicolas Babot

Landscape Photographer Nico Babot. Valllerret Ambassador

Nico Babot is a french-kiwi photographer based in Canada. He specialises in landscape photography and getting wet feet every time he attempts river crossings…

You can have a look at his work on his website nico.babot.eu
Or on social media IG TheKiwiFrog FB TheKiwiFrog

If you liked this post, you’ll love these too!

Disclosure: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase, we will receive a small commission without any cost to you. We only ever recommend products that we have personally used and can stand behind.

3 Responses


March 04, 2023

Hi Nico,
I just stumbled upon your wonderful article about how you got that shot. You are not only a gifted photographer, but a wonderful writer as well. I haven’t shot with an SLR in over two decades, as all my photos are now shot with my iphone 13. That being said, I love how explained the details about when to arrive and why you chose the way you set things up. You bring a real romance to it all. Bravo. Thank you. Howard in Boston

Erica | Vallerret Photography Gloves
Erica | Vallerret Photography Gloves

March 27, 2020

Hi Vishnu — both are spectacular but the sunset at Milford is especially beautiful with the sun setting behind Mitre Peak. :)


March 10, 2020

Hii bro

I like your photo. Aweoeme.
I have one doubt, Sunset or sunrise for better photo in Milford?

Which can be worthy sunset or sunrise at Milford sound?

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in Vallerret Articles

The Best Glove for Your Winter Holiday
The Best Gloves for Your Winter Holiday

November 27, 2023

It’s a question we get all the time: What is the best glove for my winter holiday? Whether you’re headed to the Arctic or Japan, we know how crucial it is to have the right gear dialed in before you hop on that plane. There’s nothing worse than investing in gear that doesn’t work for you. Finding a glove that works best for everyone can be tricky but we’ve learned some tips over the years to help you get the right glove for your winter holiday.
Read More
Black Friday at Vallerret: Deals are Out, Mother Nature is In
Black Friday at Vallerret: Deals are Out, Mother Nature is In

November 21, 2023 5 Comments

This Black Friday we are once again donating all profits from sales to The Norwegian Society for Conservation to help preserve one of the most iconic and recognizable photography locations on the planet: Lofoten. Visiting Lofoten is a dream for most photographers but this pristine location is at constant threat and the NSC is working to keep Lofoten wild. Read more to see how you can help.
Read More
The Ultimate Glove Gift Guide for Photographers 2023
The Ultimate Glove Gift Guide for Photographers 2023

October 27, 2023 2 Comments

It’s that time of the year. The fireplaces are roaring, the snow is falling and everyone is scrambling to find the perfect gift for their loved ones this year. As fellow photographers ourselves, we know how hard buying for a photographer can be. If you’re left confused by the technical jargon and tech specs of products you don’t understand then you’re in luck. Read on for our gift recommendations. 
Read More