Top Six Stops on the Milford Road
The Milford Road offers a spectacular journey into the heart of the Fiordland National Park. The trip from Te Anau to Milford Sound is 2 hours 30 minutes driving, but it’s best to allow more time to stop and go for short walks at the many points of interest along this magnificent alpine highway. Here’s our top six:
This beautiful valley is glaciated with steep sides and a flat floor. It’s between half a kilometre to two kilometres wide and has a shingle riverbed floor which is constantly being changed by the Eglinton River.
Small tarns (mountain lakes) on the roadside provide outstanding reflections of the Earl Mountains in calm weather which make for magical photos. The lakes are an easy five minute stroll along the side of lakes and back up to the main road.
A good stopping off point where interpretation panels show the effect of avalanches on the Milford Road and provide information on the wildlife of the Eglinton Valley. Visitor amenities include toilets and a telephone (card only).
There’s a good chance that you will see kea (mountain parrot) in the car park or whio (blue duck) in this pristine creek. Take a sip of the water of eternal youth from the stream while surrounded by stunning views of the upper Hollyford Valley.
At an altitude of 945 metres above sea level and 1.2 kilometres in length, the unlined road tunnel allows access through sheer rock to Milford Sound with a gradient of 1 in 10. Work began on the tunnel in 1935 by government relief workers, initially starting with five men using picks and wheelbarrows who lived in tents. Progress was slow, with difficult conditions including water entering the tunnel which required pumping out, and numerous avalanches during winter and spring. Work was interrupted by World War II, and an avalanche which destroyed the eastern tunnel portal in 1945, and finally opened in 1954.
A 15 minute loop track takes you through temperate rainforest to view spectacular rock chasms and waterfalls formed by the rushing waters of the Cleddau River. The Chasm is at its roaring best just after or during rainfall, but it’s a magical sight in any weather.