Road trips to Milford Sound

By: Road Trip


Road trips to Milford Sound Milford Sound Road trips to Milford Sound
Road trips to Milford Sound Te Anau Road trips to Milford Sound

Everything you need to know before planning a road trip to New Zealand’s Milford Sound.

Visitors to Milford Sound, and the more remote Doubtful Sound, experience first-hand this awe-inspiring energy and serenity. A range of activities are available for visitors to the fiords, from kayak and cruise options, scenic flights, diving, or visiting the unique Milford underwater observatory.

The fiords, however, are just one part of this vast World Heritage Area waiting to be explored. Numerous short walks and multi-day hiking trails, including three of the New Zealand Great Walks (the Milford, Routeburn, and Kepler Tracks), have earned Fiordland the reputation of one of the world’s finest walking destinations. Combine your walk with a jet boat ride, a horse trek, or a quad-bike trip, and you’ll have the adventure of a lifetime.

The attractive town of Te Anau, located on the shores of the South Island’s largest lake, is the gateway to Fiordland, providing a perfect base for exploration.

Te Anau offers seven-day shopping facilities with competitively-priced goods, including high quality apparel, gift, and souvenir shops. A full range of services exists within the town including ATM facilities, two major banks, service stations (offering fuel and workshop facilities), rental cars, a medical centre, and a dentist. Regular scheduled coach services link Fiordland to the West Coast, Queenstown, Christchurch, Dunedin, and Invercargill.

From Te Anau, it is a two-hour drive through some of New Zealand’s most stunning scenery to Milford Sound or 20 minutes by road to the most picturesque lake in the world, Lake Manapouri, and the start of a Doubtful Sound excursion.

Things to do in Milford Sound

Visit the Te Anau Glowworm Caves: explore this 12,000-year-old (very young by geological standards) cave system via guided tour.

Fiordland Cinema: pop in to enjoy daily screenings of the locally-filmed movie Ata Whenua and mainstream and arthouse releases and relax with a glass of wine.

Take a slow cruise on Lake Te Anau, against the stunning backdrop of Mt Luxmore and the Murchison mountains, or feel the thrill of jet boating on the Waiau River.

The alpine road to Milford Sound

Milford Sound is by far the best known of all the fiords and the only one that can be accessed by road.

Milford Road is a stunning alpine drive. It’s roughly 16km from the head of the fiord to the open sea, which means visitors can comfortably travel the length of the fiord to open ocean and return on one of the many cruise options available in 1.5 – 2 hours cruising time.

Numerous viewing points and short walking opportunities en route provide a chance to get out of the car and drink in the spectacular scenery.

Motorists are advised to fill vehicles with petrol in Te Anau, although supplies are available at Gunns Camp in the Hollyford Valley and at Milford Sound.

The road is occasionally closed from Marion Corner due to adverse weather conditions, especially in winter. However, the road is well maintained and carefully monitored during periods of heavy snow.

Water is what makes Fiordland a verdant land with lakes, rivers, streams, cataracts, waterfalls, and fiords. Visitors should always be prepared to enjoy some rainfall during their stay.

Milford Discovery Centre and Milford Deep Underwater Observatory: make sure these are on your itinerary.

Sightseeing tours: choose a day tour from GreatSights if you’d rather not tackle Milford Road yourself, allowing you to concentrate on the scenery. On board the coach you’ll see the famous Homer Tunnel, Eglinton Vallery, and breathtaking Mirror Lakes.

Fiordland National Park: spend time walking and hiking over 1.2-million hectares encompassing mountain, lake, fiord, and rainforest environments.

Need to know

During the winter months the road between Te Anau and Milford is prone to closures, so check with the local information centre on road conditions.

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