The Fiordlands region in New Zealand is famous for the Milford Sound, accessible by Milford Road. This magical place should not be missed during a road trip in New Zealand.
The road is also officially named the State Highway 94. It is a dead-end road, which leads to the place from Te Anau which is also impressive and incredible and the stops you can make are so frequent that you could spend the day on the road.
Get ready to be awestruck as you embark on this scenic road trip filled with breathtaking panoramas and invigorating hikes! From one stunning view to another, you’re guaranteed to create a lifetime of memories. But don’t forget to keep your camera fully charged, you wouldn’t want to miss capturing a single moment of this unforgettable journey!
Where is the Milford Road located ?
Milford Sound lies at the end of a dead-end road, the Milford Road, which runs from Te Anau in the southwest of New Zealand’s South Island. The fjord is part of the huge protected area of Fiordland National Park.
Te Anau is the gateway to Fiordland National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
You can locate the road on the map below:
Enlarge the map
Facts about the Milford Road
The road from Te Anau to Milford Sound is a 120-kilometer-long (72 miles), paved two-lane highway.
While the journey may take approximately 2 hours to complete, it’s recommended to allocate a full day to truly soak in the scenic beauty and make stops along the road. The journey along the road, with its breathtaking landscapes, is a memorable experience. Don’t forget to plan time for the return trip.
You will have to take the Homer Tunnel, a tunnel that has one lane of traffic and is quite long. You may have to wait your turn until the vehicles in front of you have passed, there are traffic lights. The tunnel is straight and was originally a single track covered with gravel. Its excavation began in 1935 with pickaxes and wheelbarrows. Interrupted by the Second World War, the work resumed afterward, delayed by many problems such as an avalanche in 1945. The tunnel was opened to traffic in 1953.
How to get to Milford Sound ?
State Highway 94 from Te Anau connects Milford Sound to the rest of the country. Queenstown, for example, is 150 kilometers away (93 miles). Milford Sound is the only fjord accessible by road in the region, and therefore very touristy. It is possible to get there in one day, but it is advisable to plan an overnight stay in order to enjoy this magical place. You can also drive the Lindis Pass nearby.
You visualize how to get there on this map of the drive:
Things to do nearby the Pass
Along this road you can observe many points of interest, indeed the region is known for its hiking and the beauty of its landscapes. Here are the main ones :
Lake Mistletoe Walking Track:
Heading from Te Anau to Milford Sound on Highway 94, you’ll start by driving along Lake Te Anau.
After 30 kilometers (18 miles), the Lake Mistletoe Walking Track will be on your right. A small parking lot marks the starting point of this forest hike, which offers some nice views of Lake Mistletoe. An easy walk of about 30 minutes. So, nothing better than to stretch your legs to the sound of the birds.
About 25 kilometers (15 miles) further on, you will enter the majestic Eglinton Valley. This is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful places you will see along the Milford Sound Highway. The road runs straight through the valley and all you have to do is pull over to the side of the road to walk through the tall grass and look out over the valley.
Mirror Lakes is perhaps one of the most famous points on the Milford Sound route. Located less than 5 kilometers (3 miles) past Eglinton Valley, they are aptly named. When it’s not windy, the landscape is beautifully reflected in the water. On a beautiful day, you can enjoy a great view of Mount Eglinton, both in the water and in the sky.
Lake Gunn Nature Walk
A quarter of an hour’s drive further on is the Lake Gunn Nature Walk.
This 45-minute loop goes through a pristine forest covered entirely in moss. Small trails branch off from the main path to take in the nearby rivers and lakes.
After the famous Homer Tunnel, the road to Milford Sound winds down to the fjord through forested landscapes.
A path leads through the forest to a series of waterfalls with distinctive rock formations. Stones dragged by the force of the water have gradually shaped the rock to create beautifully smooth and wavy forms.
Milford Sound Lookout
This is the final destination. Milford Sound is a great place with its sheer mountains plunging into the fjord waters.
The best way to discover the fjord is to take a cruise:
There are several tours, and they all offer pretty much the same experience: basically, you get on a boat and take a comfortable tour of the fjord, passing waterfalls and huge walls. There is also a stop at a seal colony and if you are lucky you may even see dolphins and penguins. The boats go to the entrance of the fjord, which flows into the Tasman Sea, 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the port.
Another dope road to discover in New Zealand is the Lindis Pass.
Is Milford Road open today ?
The road is open all year round, however in winter, during snowfall, this road can be impassable. From May to November, vehicles must be equipped with snow chains (chains can be rented at gas stations in Te Anau). In case of avalanche danger, the road can be occasionally closed.
The Milford Road is considered one of the most scenic roads in New Zealand. However, it is also one of the most dangerous, with an accident rate about 65% higher than the rest of the road network and a fatality rate twice as high as the general average. It is, therefore, necessary to remain very vigilant despite the beauty of the landscape.
Stopping is forbidden over long distances because of the danger of falling rocks. It is also necessary to know that there are no gas stations, and that it is thus necessary to plan to take enough fuel for the return trip.
If you want to stay in the area, you can easily find some accommodation near Milford Sound.
A preview of this legendary road:
You can discover the beauty of this road by watching the following YouTube video, here is a video in winter :
You don’t want to miss this scenic road trip that takes you from Te Anau to Milford Sound. Along the way, you’ll be able to see a number of natural wonders. In addition, this destination is renowned for offering some of the most breathtaking views in New Zealand.
Enjoy Fiordland National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Famous for its diversity, it will take you through farmland, pastures, alpine landscapes, sparkling lakes, valleys, rainforests, and the majestic Milford Sound Fjord. With its deep blue waters, lush green peaks, and waterfalls, New Zealand’s most famous fjord will amaze you like no other.
Pictures sources: By Krzysztof Golik – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=67304474 / By Bernard Spragg. NZ from Christchurch, New Zealand – Milford Sound New Zealand., CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=70144781 / scott1346 on flickr.com
Discover other roads in New Zealand: click here or see our road map!