With a position looming over the famous Milford Sound, it’s no wonder this towering summit of the Fiordland mountain is among the most photographed sites in the country.
Overlooking the fiords of Fiordland National Park is the iconic Mitre Peak. At just 1,690 metres (5545 feet) high it’s far from the tallest peak in New Zealand but its distinctive shape and its phenomenal surroundings make it one of the most recognisable. With a gruelling climb through dense forest and a technical accent of the final ridge, summiting Mitre Peak is reserved for experienced climbers but is possible for those ready for the challenge. For the less adventurous visitor Mitre Peak can be seen in all its glory aboard a comfortable 2-hour boat cruise on Milford Sound.
Mitre Peak’s English name comes from its resemblance to a mitre hat, as worn by Christian bishops. The Maori name for the peak is Rahotu. Those tempted by its lofty heights and the opportunity to see Milford Sound from above can pick up detailed hiking information and guidance from the Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre in Te Anau.
Chartered boat tours on Milford Sound offer a great alternative, and even a complementary perspective, to climbing Mitre Peak. Hear stories of the first attempt to summit the peak from the comfort of the boat. In 1883, Samuel Moreton and Donald Sutherland set out to climb the mountain without a coat and only a biscuit each for supplies. Needless to say they returned to its base shortly after and it wasn’t until 1911 that the mountain was finally conquered.
Capture photographs of the mountain’s unusual shape from the sound. Look for the diverse wildlife, including penguins, whales and dolphins, as you cruise across the glassy water. Tours of Milford Sound will also pass the two permanent waterfalls, Lady Bowen and Stirling Falls, that cascade into the sound.
Mitre Peak is located within the Fiordlands National Park. The nearest town is Te Anau, 118 kilometres (73 miles) from Milford Sound, where you’ll find tour operators and the Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre. Reservations and booking fees apply to visit Milford Sound by boat.