Queenstown to Milford Sound (an epic journey of a lifetime)

The icon of New Zealand’s South Island, Milford Sound is a fjord which has been voted the world’s top travelling destination. A sought-after objective, a trip to Milford Sound will allow you to catch glimpses of a stunning Marine Reserve and World Heritage Site. Here, in this incredibly remote part of New Zealand, not only you will be blown away by thrilling views and surreal landscapes, but you will also be able to capture some of the unique photographs of nature’s true beauty. Here’s all the information you need to know about getting from Queenstown to Milford Sound.

Queenstown to Milford Sound


This is the easiest and most flexible option. You jump in your car, drive at your own pace and stop when you wish. When you drive from Queenstown to Milford Sound, there are a few things to bear in mind if you decide to drive to Milford Sound:

You need two drivers. The drive itself it’s not difficult, but tiring. There are plenty of winding roads which require your absolute undivided attention. Better to swap every two hours to make sure you stay alert.

Make sure you stop in Te Anau to fuel up. There are no other gas stations along the way, and you definitely don’t want to run out of fuel in the middle of nowhere.

Bring your own sandwiches and snacks. We bought fresh pastries in Queenstown and packed lunch for the journey. There are only 2 or 3 restaurants in Milford Sound which are a bit too pricey.

Allocate money for one night in Te Anau. By the time you finish your cruise it will be quite late to drive back to Queenstown. You can if you wish to, but I strongly recommend taking a break in Te Anau. This city is located by the lake, where you can spend your relaxing evening by walking around the shores.

Drive Milford Sound

Coach operators

If you don’t want to drive for hours, a day tour with a local operator might be a good idea. You can prebook tickets from either Queenstown or Te Anau. Most coaches leave first thing in the morning and promise several stops along the way so you can enjoy the landscape and photograph key spots.

Pro – You don’t have to worry about a thing, it’s rather fun and easy to jump in the coach and simply be taken to your desired destination.

Cons – Your coach will be full of tourists and you aren’t in control of your stops. If you see a spot which you wish to photograph, you can’t just pull over.

Drive Landscape Milford Sound

Fly to Milford Sound

If you can stretch your budget, then you can fly from Queenstown to Milford Sound. This is by far the quickest and most convenient way to travel, yet it is also the most expensive. For the budget traveller, this is (unfortunately) not an option. For example, you can spend an extra few days and visit a new location in New Zealand with the money you would otherwise spend on the scenic flights. However, should you be able to afford this, you will be rewarded with some of New Zealand’s most impressive views which are guaranteed to take your breath away.

Mirror Lakes Milford Sound

Milford Sound Cruises

A cruise in Milford Sound will reveal the fjord’s true beauty: imposing rocks that rise vertically from the Tasman sea. Get close to spectacular waterfalls, admire cute fur seals and rare Fiordland crested penguins.
The scenery is so amazing, it’s difficult to stop saying “wow” continuously. At some point, because of the way the sun reflected on the surrounding rocks, the landscape itself looked surreal, like an optical illusion which made me wonder if I truly am part of a dream.

Cory Milford Sound
Fur Seals New Zealand

Milford Sound Scenic flights

If you love seeing fantastic landscapes from above, then you can enjoy a scenic flight which will allow you to see New Zealand’s beauty from high in the sky. Although pricier than the cruises, the flights will offer a true sense of the Fjord’s scale.

Waterfall Milford Sound

Hike to Milford Sound

Over 10,000 people hike the Milford Track. The 33 mile track takes over 4 days to be completed and it is quite involved with more than 6 hours hike a day. Just like the rest of the tracks in New Zealand, you will have huts along the way. If you decide to hike to Milford Sound, expect to see beautiful flora, mountain birds and glacial landscapes. The highest point on the route is called the Mackinnon Pass and it’s located at 1154 meters above sea level. This is a more diffcult hike than the Queen Charlotte or the Abel Tasman Coastal Track.

Milford Sound NZ

Prepare for your Milford Sound journey

Waterproof – The weather in New Zealand can be unpredictable, hence bringing waterproofs is always a good idea.

Hat – To avoid sunstroke, especially during your cruise, I recommend wearing a hat.

Walking boots – There are a few small trails which can be enjoyed whilst in Milford Sound. Best to have your walking boots in case the path is muddy.

Milford Sound Water

Camera – For those postcard picture opportunities you cannot miss, have a decent camera with you.

Lunch – Have lots of snacks and lunch with you. Even if the tour providers offer lunch included in the price, you might get hungry throughout the day.

Dreamy Milford Sound

Milford Sound was definitely one of the highlights of my New Zealand trip. I loved the peace and quiet and absolutely adored the seclusion. Did you visit the Milford Sound or is it high up on your bucket list? Tell me all about your New Zealand experience in the comments below.

Share this post
Cory from You Could Travel entering Senso-ji in Tokyo, Japan

Cory Varga – Cory Varga is a licensed travel agent and published travel writer. Her main expertise is writing about Japan, where she happily lives with her husband.
Cory published her first book on Japanese customs and manners because she’s obsessed with everything Japan and wants to share more about the local customs with the rest of the world.
While Cory has visited hundreds of destinations and has lived in 7 different countries, Japan remains her favorite place to live and write about. Cory is multilingual.


3 responses to “Queenstown to Milford Sound (an epic journey of a lifetime)”

  1. Lucy Bladen Avatar
    Lucy Bladen

    Beautiful photos! I loved Milford Sound, like you it was definitely one of the highlights of my New Zealand trip.

  2. Pilot Mark Avatar
    Pilot Mark

    Such lovely photographs! I had such a mesmerising visit to Milford Sound, the fact that this destination can look just as beautiful in the rain as it does on a sunny day shows the true beauty of the landscape. Standing on the deck of a boat and gliding alongside this phenomenal landscape was a profound experience. The surroundings almost seemed like an alien planet when they were draped in mist.

  3. Hugo Avatar

    I also spent a really good time there with my mates during my last journey. It was my life’s best tour. It was memorable moment of my life while I was captured majestic views of nature beauty in my camera.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *