The drive to Milford Sound is awe-inspiring, reaffirming Fiordland’s status as a World Heritage Site. Milford Sound is 288km from Queenstown (4 hours 15 minutes) and 121km from Te Anau (2 hours 15 minutes).
Choosing to drive to Milford Sound by car in your own time can be a rewarding experience, but there are risks involved. It’s important to plan your drive to Milford Sound carefully. This way you’ll have plenty of time to see the highlights and soak up the overwhelming natural beauty of the Fiordland area, while staying safe. An alternative option is to travel by bus or coach, or book a day tour including a cruise.
The drive to Milford Sound can be done in parts, giving you flexibility and full control. We’ve collated some helpful driving tips and suggestions to help you prepare.
Travel tips for the drive to Milford Sound
When you self-drive to Milford Sound you will be sharing the road with other cars, campervans and large tour coaches. Because most people plan their trip to Milford Sound to coordinate with cruise times, traffic along the road is often heavy. To avoid this traffic it is best to leave either very early in the morning (around 6am) or later in the day.
- There are no shops or petrol stations between Te Anau and Milford Sound. Ensure you have ample food and drinks and your petrol tank is full.
- The Milford Road has limited cellphone coverage.
- We recommend using the restrooms in Te Anau before embarking on the long drive to Milford Sound. After Te Anau, there are public toilets on the Milford Road at Knobs Flat and The Divide.
- Be prepared for the weather to change drastically within a short period of time, even in summer, and dress appropriately.
- Carry snow chains in the winter months and ensure you know how to fit them to your vehicle.
- Always drive to the conditions, follow all road signs and stay well informed by regularly checking the NZTA road status page.
Spend the night in Te Anau
Many visitors choose to stay the night in the pretty little town of Te Anau, rather than attempting to drive to Milford Sound and back in one jam-packed day. There are several high-quality accommodation options in Te Anau, as well as cafes, restaurants and bars.
Activities in Te Anau include scuba diving, cycling, fishing and jet boating. Te Anau is also the starting point for many Fiordland National Park walks, including the Milford Track.