Milford Sound Tour From Queenstown
The men who built the Milford Road and the Homer Tunnel in the 1930s were, for the most part, victims of the Depression and directed to the job by the government. For the men of the road, and those women who followed their men into this wilderness, life was harsh beyond belief, but the road and tunnel had to go through.
The weather could be vicious, the terrain ferocious, high in altitude, steep and rugged, beset by floods and deadly avalanches. Workers were brought face to face with the avalanche hazard. Men were killed; bridge structures, road works and tunnel portals destroyed. The road, which was completed in 1952, consequently was closed during winter months until the late 1970s when tourist and fishing interests successfully lobbied for it to remain open year round.
After a massive avalanche killed a road maintenance supervisor in 1983, a programme was established to monitor, assess and control the avalanche hazard on the Milford Road. The internationally recognised avalanche control programme used today enables the road to remain open with optimum safety to all road users.
Times & Distances
From Queenstown to Te Anau the distance is 170 kms and takes around 2 hours. The journey from Te Anau to Milford Sound is 121km . A non-stop direct one-way drive takes at least two hours depending on weather conditions and how often you stop.
So the total one-way Queenstown to Milford without stops takes 4 hours. By the time you stop for refreshments / toilets in Te Anau and take some short walks and photo stops you need to allow up to 6 hours from Queenstown, include a cruise on the Sound and return drive to Queenstown you are looking at a full 12 hour day.
What To See And Do Enroute?
Once you enter the Fiordland National Park you will have the opportunity to stop suggested places include.
Eglinton Valley Flats: Glacial carved river valley, Knobs Flat the last toilets before Milford
Mirror Lakes : A short boardwalk reflecting the mountains in small ponds, good information panels on history, wildlife and native forest.
Lake Gunn beautiful small Lake surrounded by Beech Forest, make sure you have insect repellent on before stepping out.
Hollyford Valley lookout: Take the first turn off to the right after passing the Divide here you will have wonderful views over the Hollyford Valley.
Monkey Creek: A great stop surrounded by towering mountains.
Homer Tunnel: You may well have to stop here as the tunnel is controlled by traffic lights. Sometimes the native parrot Kea are here trying scavenge lunch please do not feed them, it only encourages them to be more aggressive and dependant.
The Chasm: Impressive 10minute walk to see the force of and power of water, the Cleddau River has carved and sculptured this ravine over time. You may wish to delay this walk until your return as it can be very busy with coach loads of people enroute to Milford.
Milford Sound: Your destination, park the car and you have a 10 minutes walk to the terminal building for cruise departures.
When you get to Milford there are a number of cruise options depending on when you arrive, large or small boat, some options have lunch available on board others have snacks available. Essentially if you are travelling between Dec and April you need to make a booking. We recommend Real Journeys who offer Scenic cruises and nature Cruises depending on your time of arrival.