This time last year we were having the most amaaaaazing trip around New Zealand. I wrote a bunch of posts about it, but I never got around to writing about all the things we did on the road to Milford Sound. So, here is a full account of all the things we managed to squish into our time in the Fiordland. I have already written about some of these, so just click on the links if you’d like to read more.
We visited all these places over 2 days, but even if you are only planning a single day trip to Milford Sound, you can easily fit in a couple of walks and a boat tour.
120km to Milford Sound
The Te Anau Glowworm Caves was one of the most interesting things we did near Te Anau. We went on a tour around the caves so got to see the thousands of glowworms (well, fungus gnats) light up the cave’s ceiling like the night’s sky. One of the great things about the tour is it also involves a mini cruise over Lake Te Anau. If you plan on making this (awesome) stop on the way to Milford Sound, then you will probably need more than one day in the area.
91km to Milford Sound
Lake Mistletoe is a lovely spot to stretch your legs on the road to Milford Sound. There is a pretty forest walk and then a boardwalk out around the lake. The walk takes less than 30 minutes.
Boyd Creek Track
75km to Milford Sound
This hike is less famous (I couldn’t find it on many of the lists from the local tourist office.) BUT the Boyd Creek Track is SUCH a cool place to explore. We loved the moss-covered forest and the wildlife. We saw birds of prey as well as cute, round, fluffy little bird dudes. The entire walk takes a several hours, but it is fun to stop, even just to see the first part of the trail.
61km to Milford Sound
Mirror Lakes must be insta famous. There is plenty of parking, so almost everyone stops here on their visit to Milford Sound. This stop won’t really give your legs much of a workout, as you only need to walk for a few meters. Still, the lake is surrounded by misty mountains and it is a gorgeous sight! The lake’s sign is even posted upside down so you can only see it properly when it is reflected in the lake.
34km to Milford Sound
Fancy a few steps on one of New Zealand’s Great Hikes? Key Summit is a fantastic option if the weather is fine. When we visited, the weather *was not* fine, and it was still a lovely walk through the silver beech forest. You can tramp from the divide up to Key Summit and back in 2-3 hours. The path is super easy to follow, and there are plenty of switchbacks, rather than steep walkways. You’ll be treated to some stunning views at the top!
32km to Milford Sound
If Key Summit sounds too touristy for you, another fantastic option is the hike up to Lake Marian. You can actually see Lake Marian from Key summit (in my photo above.) It is surrounded by gorgeous mountains and forest. It is a glacial lake, so you can expect to see ridiculously pretty coloured water, even when the mist comes in.
We did both Key Summit and Lake Marian on the same day, after our boat tour in Milford Sound.
Watch out for Kea at Homer Tunnel
18km to Milford Sound
twenty minutes before you arrive at Milford Sound, you’ll reach the famous Homer Tunnel that goes straight through the Darran Mountain range. There is a car park right before the tunnel which I would like to mention because we met some Kea there!
Kea are New Zealand’s alpine parrots. They are pretty big, about half a meter tall, with olive green to burnt umber coloured feathers. If you see one fly, they’ll flash crazility bright, beautiful wing feathers at you. Just DON’T FEED THEM!
Once you emerge from the tunnel, look up! The cliffs are covered in hundreds of teeny waterfalls when it is raining. This view took our breath away.
10km to Milford Sound
The Chasm is a waterfall (or group of several waterfalls) that have carved massive chasms into the surrounding rocks. The water really thunders through these holes in the rocks so they are great fun to see (and hear!)
Milford Foreshore Walk
You’ve arrived in Milford Sound
Once you make it to Milford sound, don’t jump straight onto your boat trip! There is a pleasant trail on the foreshore, just before you reach the harbour.
Milford Sound Boat trip
You will definitely want to finish your trip to Milford Sound with one of the many mini cruises or boat tours. Our Milford Sound Boat Tour was easily one of the highlights of our trip to Kiwiland. It’s also one of the few places in the world when you WANT to visit in the rain! Seriously, the views are spectacular in soggy weather as that is the only time you’ll be able to see the temporary waterfalls.
I hope you like the look of these stop-offs on the road to Milford Sound! Stopping so many times might make your journey a little longer, but it’ll be even more enjoyable.