Milford Sound Airport

Milford Sound Airport (IATA: MFN, ICAO: NZMF) is a small but very busy (in terms of flight movements) airport in Milford Sound, in New Zealand's Fiordland region of the South Island. It is mainly used by tourist / flightseeing operators.

Milford Sound Airport
Milford Sound Airport as seen from an aircraft
Airport typePublic
OperatorMinistry of Transport
ServesMilford Sound
LocationMilford Sound
Elevation AMSL3 m / 10 ft
Coordinates44°40′24″S 167°55′24″E
Direction Length Surface
m ft
11/29 782 2,565 Asphalt


The Airport is located in the village Milford Sound located at the head of the fiord Milford Sound. It serves the Milford Sound tourism industry including boats, kayaks, Milford Track, as well as the fishing boats based at Milford Sound. It stands at the head of the fiord at the junction of the Cleddau and Arthur rivers.


On 17 November 1938, a Southland Airways Puss Moth piloted by Arthur Bradshaw made the first landing in at Milford Sound. However, any further development for air operations into the Fiord was delayed by World War II. Post war pilot Fred 'Popeye' Lucas was the next to land an aircraft in Milford. He landed on the sand spit in his Southern Scenic Airtrips Auster on 22 August 1951. This then sparked the addition of an airstrip for use by his company to expand tourism into Milford Sound. An airstrip was constructed, initially 550 yards (503 metres) in length with the first official landing achieved in May 1952.[citation needed]

Over the years the airstrip has been upgraded and lengthened till today's sealed strip of 792 metres. In order for Southern Scenic Airtrips and National Airways Corporation (NAC) to be able to fly the larger twin-engine aircraft into the area the airstrip became officially licensed in 1956.[citation needed]

Prior to the ability of air operations, Milford Sound had no access in the winter months as the roads became impassable. With the addition of the airstrip, it was recorded that by 1964 more than 400 tourists were taking the 'Gateway to Magnificence Experience' flight to Milford Sound each month at peak holiday time.[1]


A view of Milford Sound Airport from a Glenorchy Air GA8 aircraft
The small terminal at Milford Sound

Weather permitting, there is substantial daily charter traffic of light aircraft (mostly Britten-Norman Islander, Cessna 172, 206, 207, Cessna Caravan. GA8 Airvan) to and from Queenstown, Wanaka and Te Anau and on sightseeing trips. Helicopters are also very active. The New Zealand Department of Aviation publishes a GAP (Good Aviation Practices) document for flying to/from Milford Sound Airport.[2]

Airlines and destinations

Air Milford Queenstown
Southern Alps Air Wanaka Airport
True South Flights Queenstown
Air Fiordland[3] Queenstown, Te Anau, Wanaka
Fly Fiordland[3] Glenorchy Aerodrome, Martins Bay Aerodrome, Te Anau
Air Safaris[4] Lake Tekapo
Aspiring Air[5] Wanaka
Glenorchy Air[6] Glenorchy Airport, Queenstown
Milford Sound Flightseeing[7] Queenstown
Milford Sound Helicopters[8] Based at the Airport

See also


  1. 'Taking Off-Pioneering Small Airlines of New Zealand 1945–1970' Published 2003, Richard Waugh with Bruce Gavin, Peter Layne & Graeme McConnell, Pages 16–36
  3. Fly Fiordland
  4. Air Safaries
  6. Glenorchy Air. "Milford Sound, Glaciers".
  7. Milford Sound Flightseeing Archived 13 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  8. Milford Sound Helicopters