Milford Sound is one of the most visited places in New Zealand. The towering cliffs, endless waterfalls, and wildlife are just some of the spectacles that give Milford its claim to fame as the “8th Wonder of the World!”.
Milford Sound is not just about the destination, the journey is half the fun. There’s some incredible walks on the Milford Road you can enjoy on your drive, here are our top 6.
Located 78 kilometres from Te Anau, Lake Gunn Nature Walk is a great way to break up your journey from Te Anau to Milford Sound.
The walk takes about 45 minutes to complete and is a 1.4 kilometre loop that takes you alongside Lake Gunn and then back through the lush forest that surrounds it. Access the Lake Gunn nature walk is from the Cascade Creek car park.
Lake Marian is an alpine lake that can only be described as “picture perfect.” Within the first 10 minutes you are rewarded with stunning waterfalls and great views. The track isn’t too long at 2.4 kilometres but does get steep and undulating after the first 10 minutes, be careful it can get quite wet and slippery.
The Lake Marian Track starts from the Lake Marian car park. To get to this car park, turn off Milford Road onto Hollyford Road about 88 kilometres from Te Anau. Drive down the unsealed Hollyford Road for approximately 1 km and then you will see the car park.
Allow about three hours to complete the full Lake Marian track, although a slightly harder walk the destination is worth it. Lake Marian sits in a closed hanging glacial valley with spectacular scenery.
3.Key Summit Lookout
The Key Summit Lookout is one of the most popular walks along the Milford Road, it’s part of the famous Routeburn Track offering amazing panoramic views of mountains! If you don’t have the time to complete the entire Routeburn Track then this is a great alternative!
From The Divide (about 85 kilometres from Te Anau along Milford Road) start along the Routeburn Track. After about an hour of walking, you will see a sign to turn off towards the Key Summit Lookout. From here it is about a 20 minute climb before you reach the incredible viewpoint!
The walk is 6.8 kilometre return along the same track and takes about three hours.
If you are after a short, easy walk with incredible views then the Chasm Walk is the perfect choice for you!
This walk is only 400 metres return along a well-maintained and easy trail that will take you over footbridges to reach a view of waterfalls and rock formation shaped from thousands of years of powerful water!
The Chasm Walk only takes about 20 minutes and is well worth checking out on your way to Milford. The car park is after the Homer Tunnel about 109 kilometres from Te Anau and is well sign-posted.
5.Milford Foreshore Walk
At the end of Milford Road, the Milford Foreshore Walk is a great short walk to check out before you head out on your Milford Sound cruise.
Accessible right from the main car park, the Milford Foreshore Walk is a short loop that is even wheelchair accessible! The loop is only 400 metres long and offers views of the towering Mitre Peak. This walk is especially brilliant at sunset!
6.Milford Sound Lookout Track
Last but not least, is the Milford Sound Lookout Track. This walk is slightly more challenging than the Milford Foreshore Walk but offers some great views from up above!
The Milford Sound Lookout Track starts past Donald Sutherland’s Grave at the rear of the café in Milford (if you have trouble finding it just ask at Discover Milford Sound Information Centre & Café.) The track is 400 metres return but includes hiking up several steps. The climb is worth it as the views from the top are simply breathtaking.
Extra Tips for Enjoying your Trip to Milford
Make sure you allow plenty of time for your journey along the Milford Road. Besides stopping for many of these walks, you will want to stop for pictures around nearly every corner! If you think you will be rushed, consider booking a night or two in Milford Sound Lodge to maximize your time in the area!
Once in Milford, getting on the water is the best way to take in all of the views. Our Milford Sound Cruise & Kayak is guaranteed to have you in awe of your surroundings!
But no matter what you decide to do on your Milford trip, make sure you come prepared with sunscreen, a raincoat for the unpredictable Milford weather, sandfly repellent as those little guys bite, and of course, your camera to make your memories last a lifetime!