Queenstown to Milford Sound Road Trip

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by Hertz AU - 07 September 2018

The journey from Queenstown to Milford Sound is a scenic experience with breathtaking landscapes, mountain ranges and lakeside views. Milford Sound is about a 4-hour drive from Queenstown, making it the perfect road trip destination. The road to Milford Sound is a journey into the heart of Fiordland National Park and the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage area.

Stop 1: Te Anau

Jump in a rental car in Queenstown and make your way on State Highway 6 towards Te Anau for the first leg of the trip – approximately 2 hours. Enjoy the scenic drive in the deep south as you pass picturesque rivers and mountains that provide endless photo opportunities. Once you arrive in Te Anau, explore the 200m-long Glow-worm Caves on an underground boat and experience the sculpted rocks, waterfalls, whirlpools, and of course the luminous glow-worms.

Te Anau is home to New Zealand’s second largest lake where you can go cruising or kayaking to take in the stunning scenery. In the depths of Fiordland National Park, you can go on hiking through the Milford, Routeburn or Kepler tracks and enjoy striking views and a unique taste of nature.

If you’re looking for a bite to eat in town, stop off at Sandfly Cafe and choose from their lunch menu of pasta, sandwiches and the town's best espresso.

Stop 2: Eglinton Valley

After exploring Te Anau, continue to drive 40 minutes towards Eglinton Valley in Fiordland National Park. Along the way, you’ll encounter rocky mountain faces covered in native beech, lining the valley and framing the trip towards Milford Sound. Within the Eglinton Valley, you’ll find the famous Mirror Lakes. Here you’ll see the Earl Mountain Ranges beautifully reflected in the stillness of the glass-like lake surface. You can take pictures, but you’ll never capture its beauty.

Jump back in the car and as you travel through Eglinton Valley you’ll come across the Avenue of the Disappearing Mountain. This destination is famous for the way it’s perceived. The location is an optical illusion; as you approach the mountains, it begins to seem as though they are getting smaller rather than larger. Finish off the road trip through Eglinton Valley with a stop off at Lake Gunn. Explore the 45-minute loop walk that leads you through lush beech forests while taking in the sounds of the valley’s abundant birdlife.

Stop 3: Milford Sound

With your legs well and truly stretched, jump back in your rental car and drive about 45 minutes to reach your final destination: Milford Sound. There is so much to do and see here, it’s suggested to book accommodation in advance and spend a couple of days exploring the expansive area. Choose from a variety of scenic cruises (day or night) that take you through the striking, awe-inspiring surroundings of Milford Sound.

If water sports are more your thing, grab a kayak and set out to discover the abundant marine life – you may even spot a bottlenose dolphin or get up close and personal with a colony of playful seals. If you’re keen to see what’s going on underneath the water’s surface, there are opportunities for scuba diving in the marine reserve. Likewise, the Underwater Observatory under the surface of Harrison Cove gives travellers an exclusive experience of the animals of the underwater realm.

If you’re into hiking, check out the newly reopened Bowen Falls Walk, which begins from the wharf at Freshwater Basin at Milford Sound. Take the public boat across the basin where you’ll disembark and set out on a 30-minute hike. On this tranquil trek, you’ll encounter exquisite native bush and forest birds. The 162-metre-high Lady Bowen Waterfall is also a must-see when in Milford Sound.

From Queenstown to Milford Sound and everything in between, explore the region at your own pace and road trip through the South Island to discover everything New Zealand has to offer.

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Article by Hertz AU

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