Milford Sound
Image: DOC 

Introduction

Milford Sound/Piopiotahi is in the northwest of Fiordland National Park. Milford Road from Te Anau to Milford Sound is one of New Zealand's most scenic drives.

Highlights

Enjoy magnificent scenery on Milford Road -  the U-shaped valleys open out to sheer, rugged basins and peaks. Once through the Homer Tunnel, you will see grand views down to sea level.

Iconic Mitre Peak - is one of the most recognised (and photographed) peaks in the world, with its sheer rock walls rising 1,692 m directly from the water. Enjoy some of the best views of Mitre Peak from the Milford Sound Foreshore Walk.

Walk the world famous Milford Track, or a half day walk on the Routeburn Track from The Divide, to enjoy unbelievable views from Key Summit.

Mountain climbing peaks - the Darran Mountains, accessed via the Gertrude Saddle and the Hollyford Valley, are well known for their exciting mountain climbing opportunities. 

A Coastal Gem - Piopiotahi (Milford Sound) Marine Reserve is one of 10 marine reserves in Fiordland.

This is one of the wettest areas in the country (up to 7 m of rain per year) and has an incredibly rugged landscape carved by glacial ice. Under the water the mountains continue to depths of up to 265 m.

Place overview

Activities

  • Bird and wildlife watching
  • Camping
  • Climbing
  • Fishing
  • Historic sites
  • Kayaking and canoeing
  • Mountain biking
  • Scenic driving
  • Walking and tramping

In this section

Find things to do and places to stay Milford Road/Milford Sound area

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Bird and wildlife watching

Walking in beech forest at many of the short walks in the Eglinton Valley (e.g. Lake Gunn Nature Walk), you might commonly see small bush birds like tomtits, grey warblers, fantails, riflemen, NZ robins, chaffinches and brown creepers. If you are keen you may spot rarer birds like the endangered mohua/yellowhead or native parakeet/kakariki. Whio/ Blue Duck are also being successfully managed in the area and numbers have grown to the point where they are regularly seen at Monkey Creek and the lower Cleddau river.

The kea alpine parrots, are often seen around the Homer Tunnel - watch your belongings though as they are very cheeky and curious! Occasionally on the East Homer Nature Walk you may hear or glimpse a rare rock wren too - they live amongst the large boulders.

See: Milford Road nature and history

Climbing

The Darran Mountains provide the greatest climbing challenge in the Fiordland area.

The most popular access is via the upper Hollyford Valley just off the Milford Road, south-east of the Homer Tunnel. Accommodation is available at the Homer Hut.

See: Climbing in Fiordland

Diving and snorkelling

Piopiotahi (Milford Sound) Marine Reserve is one of the most popular places in Fiordland to dive and see the black corals for which the fiords are famous. The reserve covers an area of 690 hectares along the northern side of Milford Sound, from the head of the Sound to Dale Point.

See: Diving and snorkelling in Fiordland

Fishing

The Milford Road offers access to the Eglinton & Cleddau Rivers, both of which offer scenic and well stocked fishing holes. Fly fishing only.

See: Fishing in Fiordland

Kayaking and canoeing

Milford Sound is a very steep sided fiord with striking beauty, but busy with boat traffic. The southern side is more sheltered from the prevailing westerly winds, in particular the afternoon day breeze during summer. For camping there are two spots – Harrison Cove and Anita Bay. Access is by boat ramp off Deepwater Basin Road in Milford Sound. It is reccommeded to go with a guided company unless you have a high skill & experience level.

Guided kayaking and kayak hire options - Destination Fiordland website

See: Kayaking in Fiordland

Scenic driving

The road from Te Anau to Milford Sound is one of New Zealand's most scenic drives.

Around every corner the vistas become even more dramatic - the U-shaped valleys open out then up to sheer, rugged basins and peaks as you near the road’s highest point.

Once through the Homer Tunnel, the road begins dropping and you will see grand views down to sea level.

See: Milford Road tips for drivers

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    About this place

    Getting there

    The Milford Road (part of SH94) starts from Te Anau, and heads north towards Milford Sound/Piopiotahi (120 km).

    The nearest town with facilities is Te Anau, and there are limited facilities at Milford Sound/Piopiotahi.

    Allow about 2 hours to drive the whole Milford Road, without stops. There are many enjoyable short walks and viewpoints along the way, as well as DOC campsites should you wish to take more time.

    Know before you go

    Milford Road

    See Milford Road tips for drivers to find out about planning your trip up the Milford Road and to Milford Sound/Piopiotahi, how to get there, tips and a map for your drive, information on winter conditions and more.

    Expect road closures and traffic delays due to weather conditions, rock falls, and snow/avalanche in winter.

    Freedom camping (within 200 m of the road) is not allowed on the Milford Road. Find out more about freedom camping in New Zealand.

    Prepare for your trip to Fiordland

    Contacts

    Te Rua-o-te-moko / Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre
    Phone:   +64 3 249 7924
    Email:   fiordlandvc@doc.govt.nz
    Address:   Fiordland National Park
    Visitor Centre
    Lakefront Drive
    Te Anau 9600
    Full office details
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