After enjoying a slow morning in Arrowtown, we recommend heading to Te Anau. We stopped for lunch in Queenstown before driving to Te Ananu. Note: Queenstown recommendations are in the next section.
We rented an AirBnB with our friend who was visiting, so we ended up enjoying the comforts of a kitchen, couch, and tv during our time in Te Anau. We did stroll through the free bird sanctuary, which we can recommend.
Drive to Milford Sound
The drive to Milford Sound is as beautiful as Milford Sound itself. You’ll see a plethora of cascading waterfalls as you drive the mountainous road to the fjord. Rainforest and evergreen beech forest dominate the surroundings. A few notable stops on the drive are Mirror Lakes, Chasm Creek, and Homer Tunnel.
Cruise Milford Sound
- We did the basic Southern Discoveries cruise (10:30 a.m.) and we couldn’t be more pleased. The boat wasn’t overcrowded and there was plenty of space to move around and take in the panoramic views. We also saw dolphins, seals and many temporary rainbows, due to heavy rainfall the night before.
- What cruise to choose? The time of day is more important than the cruise you choose. There are a lot of tour companies that operate one-day Milford Sound tours from Queenstown. That means that Milford Sound is especially busy in the early and mid-afternoon. You should try to snag an earlier cruise time (10:30, 11:15, 11:30).
Hike in Fiordland National Park
- If you’ve opted for an early cruise, you’ll have plenty of time to do a hike in the afternoon. Just make sure to bring a packed lunch, since there are no reasonable places between Te Ananu and Milford Sound to eat.
- Key Summit Track (3 hours round-trip)
- Lake Marian Track (3 hours round-trip)
Stay two nights in Te Anau
You could drive from Queenstown directly to Milford Sound, but it’s four hours. We recommend staying two nights in Te Anau, which is a two-hour drive to Milford Sound. If you do, you’ll have more time to enjoy the scenic drive as well as the region.