What you need to know before going to marvelous Milford Sound

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!

Milford Sound, New Zealand

Top 10 Travel Tips

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

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

In Milford Sound without a doubt, Mojo awaits!


Also published on Medium.

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13 comments

New Labels Only March 10, 2017 at 4:13 PM

This place is absolutely gorgeous and your photographs are amazing. I am glad that the GPS reception is poor as this will allow you to enjoy the beauty of this place even more! Love it. Hopefully one day I’ll be there!

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mymelanatedbeautiful March 10, 2017 at 4:41 PM

What a gorgeous landscape…lack of cell signal is not necessarily a bad thing if you’re going there to connect with nature, which is why I would go lol! Thank you for sharing your experience 🙂

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Julia Dent (@juliadentphoto) March 11, 2017 at 11:44 AM

It’s so beautiful there! I love those waterfalls! 🙂

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Jyo
Jyo March 11, 2017 at 11:49 AM

I know right, those waterfalls are pretty amazing!

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Alaska Rue March 11, 2017 at 3:13 PM

Gorgeous photos! Seriously giving me some major wanderlust, while I’m stuck here in the big city, haha. Thanks for the info! You’ve got some quality tips. 🙂

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Alex March 12, 2017 at 3:29 AM

I like the mountains in spring and autumn – the colors are amazing. We always take a road trip to the mountains when the trees become green and again when they turn 50 shades of coppery.
Beautiful pictures!

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Christopher James March 12, 2017 at 7:59 AM

Awesome stuff. The photos on this are absolutely next level. Well done! Not to mention, you’ve just forced me to make my bucket list just a little bit bigger!

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AlisSimo March 12, 2017 at 7:28 PM

This place is so gorgeous! NZ really is beautiful… Is there any way to go without a car ? (like a bus or something)

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Jyo
Jyo March 13, 2017 at 11:22 PM

Thanks Alissimo! Yes, there are bus tours as well, here’s a few options:

Both these tour operators offer tours on buses with glass roofs, a nature cruise, lunch options & hotel pick up/drop off from Queenstown or Te Anau.
1. Awesome NZ (http://bit.ly/2nyO9Jj)
2. Great Sights (http://bit.ly/2ni73Iy)

For a more budget-friendly option, you can try Intercity (http://bit.ly/1DM8y4x), New Zealand’s bus network used by backpackers & budget travelers.

Hope this helps!

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Vegancruiser_co_uk March 13, 2017 at 4:25 PM

oh my goodness, your photos are mesmerising! I too would need to know if there were maybe small tours to take as I am not really keen on driving abroad – and that is silly since I learned to drive in the EU but now too used to UK traffic/controls 😉 Plus you get to enjoy the views more when you’re not focussing on the road…

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Jyo
Jyo March 13, 2017 at 11:25 PM

I totally hear you! It can be stressful & tiring driving in a foreign country, that’s for sure! Do you drive on the left side of the road in the UK too? Here in the US, it’s on the right side of the road, so that took us getting used to! Here are a few options for bus tours – once you’re there, you can also choose a boat or flight cruise, which is a great way to explore the fiord!

Both these tour operators offer tours on buses with glass roofs, a nature cruise, lunch options & hotel pick up/drop off from Queenstown or Te Anau.
1. Awesome NZ (http://bit.ly/2nyO9Jj)
2. Great Sights (http://bit.ly/2ni73Iy)

For a more budget-friendly option, you can try Intercity (http://bit.ly/1DM8y4x), New Zealand’s bus network used by backpackers & budget travelers.

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Anonymous March 14, 2017 at 6:17 PM

simply inspired! Keep it up Jyo!

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Leslie M. Guzman March 19, 2017 at 12:35 PM

I keep hearing amazing things about New Zeland. You had me at glaciers.

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