Top tips for planning a Milford Sound winter holiday
Planning a Milford Sound winter holiday as part of your South Island ski trip? Here’s the lowdown on what to expect, packing tips and best spots in the region.
1. Plan and book in advance
Accommodation in Queenstown and Wanaka during winter fills up fast year-round. Make sure you plan your trip ahead of time and book in advance. Even though there are fewer people outside the big towns, popular activities like Milford Sound boat cruises can get busy. Booking your Milford Sound winter holiday in advance means you’ll secure the activities you’re after, on the days you want!
2. Allow time for off-piste activities
There’s plenty of fun to be had off the slopes of Queenstown and Wanaka. Make sure you allow time in your itinerary for these activities. Our picks for winter time off-piste activities around the Lodge include boat cruises, walks along the Milford Road and kayak trips (rug up warm!). During winter, the Queenstown/Fiordland regions are at their spectacular best with things like waterfalls rushing down mountain sides, snow shoeing in the back country and beautiful vineyard views out to snowcapped mountains.
3. Factor in the winter events
Queenstown and the surrounding regions are packed with winter events that could make a fantastic addition to your Milford Sound winter holiday. This year, the Queenstown Winter Festival will be held from 22-25 Jun and the Audi Quattro Winter Games are from 25 Aug – 10 Sept.
4. Pack warm layers of clothes
This far south it’s really important to bring lots of layers of clothing, so you can add or remove them as the weather changes. Layers made of merino or synthetic fibres like polypropylene and polar fleece are great as they keep you warm even if they get wet.
5. Be prepared for rain
There will be rain – plenty of it. Waterproof jackets – and pants, if you’re planning to go hiking or snow-shoeing – are essential to keep you dry and offer wind protection as well. Embrace the rain! It tends to make our waterfalls even more beautiful.
6. Charge your camera or phone
You’ll see views around every corner you can’t help but want to capture on camera. While none of your photos will ever be as good as the actual view, make sure you’ve got the charge to capture it – that way you can revisit the landscapes again and again.
7. Drive carefully
You’re likely to encounter snowy and icy conditions on the roads in winter. Take a little more care, know how to use chains (and have them in the car!) and definitely allow for extra driving time at this time of the year.
8. Pack your walking gear
Don’t let anyone tell you that the only outdoor winter activities worth enjoying are skiing and snow-shoeing. Hiking – or tramping as the locals call it – is equally fun in winter. With the right gear to keep the cold and wind at bay, you will be rewarded with empty trails and stunning snowy landscapes. There are plenty of shorter trails to choose from along the Milford Road.