Exploring Milford Sound is arguably one of the best things to do in New Zealand. This ancient, glacier-carved fiord is often referred to as the unofficial eighth wonder of the world. So, you’ll want to make sure you make the most of your time here..
What many people miss is the short but spectacular walks, viewpoints, and unique attractions both in and around Milford Sound. Oh, and did we mention the stunning sunsets!
We’re the experts on experiencing Milford Sound and we want you, our guests, to get the most out of your trip. So, here’s the best ways to make the most of your time in Milford Sound and just how to spend it!
Stay in Te Anau and enjoy more time on the Milford Road
Te Anau is the closest town to Milford Sound and the perfect place to spend the night before driving to Milford. From Te Anau, Milford Sound can be as short as a 2 hour drive away, but you’re going to want to take your time driving this beautiful alpine highway. We recommend allowing at least 2.5 hours to drive to Milford Sound so you can enjoy the best stops on the road to Milford!
If you really want to make the most of it and take in some of the longer hikes on the road, make sure you research how long they take and factor this into your journey time. They’re definitely worth getting up a bit earlier for.
Eglinton Valley is one of the first stops on the Milford road. Once you reach the valley, just pull over at one of the designated pull-over bays and take in the breathtaking views of this glacier-carved valley.
Take a short walk along a boardwalk through native forest to the beautiful Mirror Lakes. On a calm day the lakes give a perfect reflection of the Earl Mountains. It’s a quick walk, that’s a must-do!
If the weather is looking good, Key Summit is one hike you need to do! It starts at the Divide (where the Routeburn Track also starts or finishes). It takes two hours to reach Key Summit and the views from the top are breathtaking! Allow three hours return for this hike.
Enjoy the amazing views down the Hollyford Valley and maybe even spot a cheeky Kea – just be sure to keep your car doors closed because they’ll let themselves in!
Lake Marian is one of the most spectacular alpine lakes in New Zealand. To reach the lake it’s a three-hour return hike. Although much longer than other stops, this trip is well worth the extra effort as you’ll be rewarded with stunning views.
The Chasm is a memorising waterfall located just before Milford Sound. It’s another quick stop that involves a 20-minute walk along an easy trail to the falls. Here, you can stare down at the beautiful erosion this waterfall has created and enjoy a quiet walk through the wilderness.
Things to do in Milford Sound before or after your cruise
Many people don’t realise that there’s lots to explore in Milford Sound and although a cruise is one of the best ways to enjoy Milford, you can also explore a lot by foot! Be sure to arrive at least a few hours before your cruise or leave some time after your cruise to explore these must-see attractions. Please note parking at Milford Sound now costs $10 per hour with no limit to the amount of time you can stay.
Milford Sound Foreshore Walk
This stunning trail is only a short 30 minute walk along a wooden boardwalk. This short walk takes you to the edge of the fiord for some of the best, uninterrupted views of Mitre Peak. It’s a looped track with information panels along the way. Make sure you keep an eye out for the ‘Insta-famous’ Milford Swing.
Milford Sound Viewpoint Walk
This beautiful and short trail starts near Discover Milford Sound Café & Information Centre and leads to a fantastic viewpoint overlooking the fiord. The trail is only 400 metres return and takes around 10 minutes to hike to the top. It’s a very unique view of Milford that gets missed by many!
Bowen Falls Walk
Bowen Falls Walk begins from the wharf in Freshwater Basin where a boat transports you 120 metres across the basin. From there, you can walk to the falls via a short and easy trail. The boat ride costs $10 for adults and $5 for children.
Milford Sound Walkway
The Milford Sound Walkway starts at the main carpark and leads to the visitor terminal – but you don’t have to stop there! You can venture out around the wharf, along the breakwater walkway and find even more amazing views of the fiord before your cruise departs!
Enjoy a Milord Sound cruise
Of course, you can’t go all the way to Milford and not take in a Milford Sound cruise! Luckily, we’ve got you covered and have a cruise to suit everyone’s needs. You can also double the adventure and add a kayaking trip in beautiful Harrison Cove, or a visit some of the local sea creatures at Milford Sound Underwater Observatory!
Discover Milford Sound Information Centre and Café
Exploring Milford Sound is fun but also thirsty work! Be sure to check out the Discover Milford Sound Information Centre and Cafe. Situated on the waterfront in the heart of Milford, this has to be one of New Zealand’s most beautifully-located cafés. Here, you can enjoy the best barista-made coffee in Milford and delicious, freshly prepared breakfast and lunch options. Looking to take a souvenir home from your trip? We’ve got you covered with the best range of souvenirs in Milford Sound
Enjoy the drive back or stay in Milford Sound
At the end of the day, it’s time to leave Milford Sound… or is it? Instead of hurrying back, why not stay the night at Milford Lodge and enjoy a sunset over the fiord. This is one of best ways to experience Milford Sound, without the crowds, making your trip even more amazing!
If you can’t stay the night, then be sure to enjoy the drive back to Te Anau and stop at all the places you missed on the way to Milford Sound!
With these tips and things to do, your trip to Milford Sound is sure to be something you’ll never forget!