What to see on the drive from Te Anau to Milford Sound
Get ready for something spectacular. The drive from Te Anau to Milford Sound is one of the best road journeys New Zealand has to offer. An experience where the drive is as spectacular as the destination and definitely not something to rush. Here’s what’s on offer along the drive from Te Anau to Milford Sound and what to do when you arrive.
The drive from Te Anau to Milford Sound takes around two hours, but we recommend you take longer. Much longer.
For some, the Milford Sound road (State Highway 94) is a full-day experience in itself. The road winds its way through an inspiring and dramatic landscape as it heads deeper into Fiordland National Park. Glaciers once carved a path through the area leaving behind impressive valleys, hidden lakes and of course, the famous fiord. This landscape provides a mecca for outdoor adventures. From short walks, you can do on your way to Milford Sound to longer full-day and multi-day hikes.
Getting to Milford Sound from Te Anau by road
Milford Sound is located in the World Heritage area of Fiordland National Park, in the remote southwest region of New Zealand’s South Island. There is just one road in and out of Milford Sound, and you will pass through the township of Te Anau on your way.
Whether you are starting your journey in Te Anau, driving from Queenstown to Milford Sound in a day or coming from further afield, the real journey begins once you leave the township of Te Anau. As the rolling rural hills surrounding Te Anau give way to the lush green forest of Fiordland National Park, immense mountains appear, green moss edges its way over the roadside, and the change in landscape is striking.
Things to do along the Milford Road
The road to Milford Sound offers a range of day walks and is also the stepping off point for the Routeburn Track and exploration into the Hollyford Valley. There are also plenty of spots to stop and take a photo or two. Find out more about walks on the Milford road here.
Getting to Milford Sound
While most visitors will drive themselves from Te Anau to Milford Sound, there are other options. Here are a few different ways to get to Milford Sound
Self-drive to Milford Sound
The self-drive option allows you to stop as often as you want along the way. Follow State Highway 94 from Te Anau to Milford Sound and make as many stops for photos and walks as you like. At Milford Sound, there is car parking alongside the Ferry Terminal, where you can leave your vehicle if you’re doing an activity, scenic cruise or exploring the foreshore. There is very little chance of getting fuel at Milford Sound, so make sure you fill up in Te Anau before you leave. Check out the Te Anau to Milford Sound road closures
A spectacular way of arriving in Milford Sound is to take a scenic flight from Queenstown. There is a small airport in Milford Sound, making it easy to tie in with a scenic cruise, or even better, a stay at Milford Sound Lodge. There is also the option to take a coach to Milford Sound from Queenstown and return by scenic flight. Find out more about our incredible Queenstown to Milford Sound package here.
Milford Sound coach
The road to Milford Sound from Queenstown offers the very best scenery the South Island has to offer, which is why some people prefer to look at the scenery instead of the road. Most Milford Sound cruise operators offer packages that include coach transfers from Te Anau or Queenstown. A great way to make the journey in comfort and without any hassles.
Once you get to Milford Sound
Once you have taken in the stunning sights along the way, you will arrive at incredible Milford Sound, New Zealand’s most striking natural landmark. Here, you can explore a unique ecosystem above and below the water with a range of activities, like a Milford Sound cruise, kayaking on the fiord, diving, and visiting the Underwater Observatory.
Five highlights of the journey from Te Anau to Milford Sound
Te Anau. Take a break in Te Anau, a tranquil lakeside township on the edge of the imposing Fiordland National Park. The perfect place to grab a coffee, some snacks, explore the lakefront and fuel up.
The Homer Tunnel. A 1.2-kilometre tunnel cut through the solid granite rock of the Darran Mountains. Before the Homer Tunnel was completed in 1954, it was a long journey over the mountains to get to Milford Sound. The tunnel is an impressive feat of civil engineering.
Mirror Lakes. An easy walk and a great way to stretch the legs is a stop at Mirror Lakes. Stroll along the boardwalk and enjoy watching the wetland birdlife in the pools, and on a still day you will be rewarded with the striking reflection of the surrounding mountains.
Mitre Peak. As you pull into Milford Sound, one of the most famous sites in New Zealand awaits you—Mitre Peak. Standing at just over 1,600 metres high, it is the striking guardian of Milford Sound.
Milford Sound Lodge. This may well be the most rewarding site of all! As Milford Sound’s only accommodation option, Milford Sound Lodge is the perfect reason to stay a little longer.
Staying the night in Milford Sound gives you time to explore the sights along the Milford road one day and the sights in Milford Sound the next. You have the opportunity to experience Milford Sound late in the evening and early in the morning, when the bus visitors have gone and the sights and sounds of the fiord are all yours. Milford Sound Lodge’s chalets are an idyllic way to soak it all in, and with an onsite restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, you don’t have to worry about a thing.
There are very few experiences like the drive from Te Anau to Milford Sound. So why rush it? Make the most of your road trip by spending a night at Milford Sound Lodge. Even better, book an overnight package and all the details are taken care of.
Want to know more
- 5 Reasons to Visit Milford Sound in the Winter
- Why the South Island in the Best Honeymoon Destination
- Finding Milford Sound's Best Photography Hot Spots