What you need to know before going to marvelous Milford Sound

by Jyo

Ever have a moment where you see something so grand, so epic, your mind goes still?

That’s the level of mindblowing-ness you can expect on the drive to Milford Sound from Te Anau.

Driving through the mountains, alpine forests, pristine lakes culminating in the ultimate view of the fiord at Milford, is truly spectacular. It’s the place where cameras fail to do justice to the 360 degree panoramic immersion.

Milford Sound is a hot tourist destination, and there are few things you should know to get the most of your experience. Here are top 10 travel tips, a handy map from the New Zealand Department of Conservation that I used to plan our trip & of course some visual inspiration in the form of photos!

Top 10 Travel Tips

Milford Sound, New Zealand

1. Budget 3–3.5 hours to get from Te Anau to Milford Sound.
The drive from Te Anau to Milford Sound is 2–2.5 hours, but with the beautiful scenery & photo stops, it will take longer.

2. There are no gas/petrol stations on the highway, and it’s a 240 km round trip!
Fill up your tank in Te Anau.

3. There’s no cell phone coverage!
Best to use either a GPS unit, Map (scroll below) or this Te Anau to Milford Sound app.

4. Watch out for Kea birds!NZ parrots, they are notorious for stealing food & eating things like the rubber coating off your windshield wiper (really!).

5. Check the weather conditions
Milford Sound is synonymous with rain, this only enhances the majesty of the waterfalls in the Fiord. During winter, you’ll need chains for your tires; during summer, weather can alternate between scorching hot & cold rain. I used a toque + 3 layers AND was in a tank top, got tanned, all in a day!

6. Managing Tourist crowds
Leave either at 8 AM or after 11 AM to avoid crowds. Book afternoon cruises/tours to avoid crowd insanity.

7. Take loads of insect repellant!
Sandflies. love. Milford sound. I have bites I’m still itching!

8. Plan lunch & dinner
It’s well worth packing lunch to eat during day walks; plan dinner ahead of time, as most restaurants close by 8:30 PM.

9. Do a short walk!
There are several short walks (20 mins/45 mins/3–4 hours) that are really worth the effort. Lake Marian & The Chasm are the ones I highly recommend. If you have more than 1 day, a half day walk on the Milford Track, Hollyford Track or Routeburn track will be unforgettable, as these are part of NZ’s 9 Great Walks.

10. Book accommodation early!Because of it’s popularity, accomodations sell out fast, reserve early to avoid disappointment.

Best Places to Stay

Hostel | Te Anau YHA
Budget | Fiordland National Park Lodge

Boutique B&B | Keiko’s Cottage
Chalet | Milford Sound Lodge

Map & Helpful Resources

Download the full map here

Plan your day walks with this brochure, with 14 day walks from 10 mins — 4 hours listed. (See pages 25–30).

Suggested Itinerary

8 AM | Depart Te Anau to Milford Sound, with plenty of stops for photos.
10:30 AM | Short walks (your choice of 45 mins to 3–4 hour walks). Keep in mind, it’s a 1 hour drive from most walks’ starting point to Milford Sound.
2:00 PM onwards | Plan for fiord exploration (by kayak, boat cruise or air)
6–6:30 PM | Depart Milford Sound to arrive back in Te Anau by 8:30 PM.

What To See

Eglinton Valley

Lake Gunn

Lake Marian Falls

Lake Marian

Milford Sound

Kayak/Cruise or /Fly to see these waterfalls..& the rainbows over them!

You might even catch some seals snoozing!

Sail out to the Tasman Sea, Australia is 25 km across here!

On the way, stop by Te Anau Downs to see the sunset

Milford Sound, Te Anau is a must-visit spot from Queenstown.

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