The real magic of Milford is the grandeur of the journey there.
As any guide book will tell you, Milford Sound is something truly spectacular. Getting to Milford Sound by road is done by coach, car or campervan and takes around 2.5 hours from Te Anau or 5 hours from Queenstown. Dotted along the way, you’ll find spectacular sites and pristine nature walks worthy of a stop. From the vast, glacially-formed Eglinton Valley to the serene, reflective waters of the Mirror Lakes, the road to Milford Sound is full of stunning surprises at every turn.
State Highway 94, most commonly known as the Milford road, connects Te Anau to Milford Sound 120 km away. For those who want to take a quicker route, small aircraft land daily at the incredibly picturesque Milford Sound Airport.
A scenic fixed-wing or helicopter flight to Milford Sound is a jaw-dropping experience. It is also one of the best ways to get a sense of the vast size and depth of Te Wāhipounamu, one of the world’s great natural wilderness areas and home to Fiordland National Park. If you’re ready to take the journey of a lifetime, here are some of the best ways to get to Milford Sound.
Coach Day Trips to Milford Sound
With so much to look at along the way, visitors to Milford Sound often choose a scenic coach option over driving themselves. Not only is it an environmentally-friendly option, but when you’re onboard a coach all you have to do is focus on amazing scenery and views.
Coach drivers share stories on the Māori and pioneering history, the relatively new geological formations and the area’s conservation projects.
Milford Sound tours leave from Te Anau or Queenstown, and both options offer plenty of stops along the way. Find out all your options for Milford Sound coach and cruise day trips, including how to book your trip on incredible glass-roof coaches. Book a Milford Sound coach tour today.
Self-Drive to Milford Sound
Along the road to Milford Sound, you will discover some of Fiordland’s most striking features and significant landmarks. If you’re keen to make your own way to Milford, our best advice is to allow plenty of time to stop and explore the many photo opportunities and nature walks along the way.
A journey through the heart of Fiordland National Park gives a sense of why the native bush was virtually impenetrable for so long. Nothing highlights this more than one of New Zealand’s most impressive pieces of roading infrastructure, the Homer Tunnel. The 1.2 km (.75 mile) tunnel is carved through the mighty granite rock of the Darran Mountains and is now the only road link connecting Milford Sound to the outside world. Completed in 1954, the Homer tunnel took 19 years to construct with the workers making their home in the surrounding valley as it was being built.
Here’s all you need to know about how long it takes to drive to Milford Sound, things to do in Milford Sound, as well as a handy map of the best sights along the way.
View and download our Milford Road map.
Flights to Milford Sound
It’s hard to conjure enough superlatives to describe the experience of flying to Milford Sound. From above, the spectacular wilderness of Te Wāhipounamu Place of the Greenstone offers up secrets you would never see from the ground. Take in the panoramic masterpiece of hidden alpine lakes, glaciers and endless native beech forest.
Flights to Milford Sound by light plane or helicopter depart from Queenstown, Glenorchy or Te Anau and land at Milford Sound Airport. From the airport, it is an easy 20-minute walk to the Milford Cruise Terminal and your cruise on the fiord.
An ideal option is to coach to Milford Sound, cruise, then return by helicopter or plane. This “coach-cruise-fly” option is the best way to experience all that Fiordland has to offer and is a perfect Milford Sound day trip. Find out how long it takes to fly to Milford as well as the best light plane and helicopter options for getting to Milford Sound. Book a flight to Milford Sound.
Top Travel Tips
To make your journey as smooth as possible, it’s important to be prepared. Here are our top travel tips for visiting Milford Sound.
Fill the tank
There is no petrol station at Milford Sound. Te Anau is your last petrol station (120 kilometres away) so make sure you fill up while you’re there.
Prepare for rain
In fact, prepare for anything. Weather in Fiordland can change drastically even in summer. Bring a waterproof jacket, warm layers and comfortable shoes.
Plan for parking
If you are driving yourself, leave early to make sure you arrive in plenty of time before your cruise. The Milford Sound Public Carpark fills very quickly in the summer months so it’s best to get in before the crowd.
Remember road safety
From May to September, winter driving conditions apply, and you are required to carry snow chains. From October to April, the road to Milford Sound can get busy so it’s best to know your road rules and not hurry.
Prepare for sandflies
Sandflies are a part of life in a temperate rainforest. You can’t beat them but you can make life easier by packing mosquito repellent and wearing long clothing to avoid being bitten by sandflies. Mosquito spray is available for purchase from the Discover Milford Sound Information Centre and Cafe in Milford Sound.