A one day Milford Sound trip is the most popular way to visit this must-see New Zealand attraction. You’ll be surprised at just how much sightseeing you can fit into twelve hours of sunlight. One of the most scenic state highways in New Zealand, the 288km (179 mile) journey from Queenstown to Milford Sound is over-flowing with incredible natural beauty.
If you’re planning to drive to Milford Sound, we recommend you take this journey slow and steady, allowing plenty of time to stop and admire the view on the way. If you’d prefer to sit back and comfortably enjoy the view from a luxury coach, book a Milford Sound sightseeing tour.
Milford Sound in one day
Queenstown – Milford Sound – Queenstown
Leaving from Queenstown in the early morning, make your way towards Te Anau. This two-hour drive along Lake Wakatipu and into southern farmland is absolutely stunning and a perfect introduction for what lies ahead. The glistening waters of Lake Wakatipu are framed by the appropriately named mountain range, The Remarkables.
Along the way you’ll pass through small farming towns like Kingston, home of the famous Kingston Flyer steam train, and Mossburn, the deer capital of New Zealand.
The biggest lake in the South Island, Lake Te Anau is the perfect pit-stop. Admire the picturesque lake, capture some photographs and stop for a bite to eat. From Te Anau, travel on to Mirror Lakes and stop here to take more photos! Carry on your journey towards Milford Sound as you come across many other scenic spots.
Admire waterfalls gushing into pools of sparkling water, take in the panoramic views from The Divide and the Hollyford Valley Lookout and take a thrilling walk over a footbridge at The Chasm. Travelling through the Homer Tunnel, a 1.2km tunnel, you’re very close to Milford Sound. Once you’ve reached the Milford Sound wharf, you have arrived at your final destination.
Here you can take a break, buy a snack if you need, and of course board your cruise on the crystal clear waters of Milford Sound and enjoy an up-close viewing experience of waterfalls, marine wildlife and the almighty Mitre Peak.
Bookings are available at the terminal, but we recommend booking your Milford Sound cruise in advance as cruises often sell out, especially in the peak visitor season during New Zealand’s summer months (December – February).
A one day Milford Sound sightseeing tour from Queenstown or Te Anau is a fantastic option for those who wish to relax for the day. Several local tour operators with experienced guides offer informative and entertaining commentary and best of all, they know the finest places to stop along the way! The tours arrive in Milford Sound in time for the scheduled scenic cruises and many companies also offer lunch as part of their tour. Take a look at these websites for more information and search for the tour that suits you most: