Driving the scenic road from Queenstown to Milford Sound/Piopiotahi is an unforgettable experience. There are few places where you will find such a diversity of scenery in a relatively small area. Lakeside drives, mountains alive with seasonal colour and Tolkienesque landscapes are just part of the attraction. We’ve listed a few of our favourite stopping points along the way with the distance in kilometres (km) from Queenstown:
(35km) The Devil’s Staircase: a winding stretch of road with rest stops and great views over Lake Wakatipu.
(47km) Kingston: home of the famous Kingston Flyer steam train, is a much-loved piece of Kiwi history. The beloved old train now rests on its siding at the southern tip of Lake Wakatipu, with cafes and waterfront picnic areas nearby.
(113km) Mossburn: The Mossburn Railway Hotel is a prominent feature, offering good country meals and accommodation in a historic setting, and the delightful Bracken Hall gift shop and café is well worth a visit.
(172km) Te Anau: As the largest town between Queenstown and Milford, Te Anau is a popular spot for overnighting, or to enjoy a break from the road. It’s also a good idea to fill up with petrol, oil and water as the next service station is at Milford Sound/Piopiotahi.
(226km) Mirror Lakes: An easy 400-metre walk through native wetlands takes you to the Mirror Lakes, renowned for their startling reflections of the Earl Mountains.
(232km) Knobs Flat: High country camping and accommodation surrounded by soaring mountains, abundant birdlife and native forest make this an exhilarating day visit or overnight camp.
(253km) The Divide: a low pass which marks the start of the world famous Routeburn, Greenstone and Caples Tracks. The road from here becomes particularly winding and narrow in places, and there are avalanche gates a little further on which will be closed if there is a risk of avalanches.
(265km) Gunn’s Camp: Outback Kiwiana at its best! Gunn’s Camp is a small campground and museum made up of the original worker’s cabins from the Homer Tunnel (which is just a bit further up the road). There’s a small shop, a pioneer museum and, if you’re lucky, electricity from the generator. No cellphone or internet coverage, and cash only please – no EFTPOS either!
(277km) The Chasm: A short walk with spectacular waterfall vistas.
(286km) Tutoko Suspension Bridge: Once the main bridge into Milford, the suspension bridge was replaced in 1981 by the current road bridge, however it remains open for walking and is a pleasant viewing point. It’s an easy 4km drive from here to Milford Sound/Piopiotahi.
Milford Sound: A cruise in Milford Sound is a must-do activity. Southern Discoveries offer a variety of day cruises to suit every interest, timeframe and budget.
The Milford Road is fairly challenging, and can be treacherous in winters so be sure to check road conditions first at milfordroad.co.nz. Chains are needed during the winter season, and care and road courtesy are vital to ensure everyone’s safety on this remarkable piece of kiwi history.
Queenstown to Milford Sound/Piopiotahi: 290km – 5 hours (including rest stops)
Queenstown to Te Anau: 172km – 2 hours 15 minutes
Te Anau to Milford Sound: 118km – 2 hours 45 minutes (including rest stops)
Download our Queenstown to Milford Sound Map.