Photo By Atanamir [CC BY-SA 4.0 from Wikimedia Commons
The Milford Road is a 120km (75 mile) awesome scenic drive in South West New Zealand that offers a dramatic, beautiful, journey from Te Anau to Milford Sound. The route takes you through Fiordland National Park and portions of the Te Wāhipounamu World Heritage Area, one of the great wilderness areas of the southern hemisphere.
This scenic drive takes you through very remote, unsettled terrain, and before departing on your trip from Te Anau, you are advised to fill your cars with fuel, although limited supplies are available at Gunns Camp in the Hollyford Valley and at Milford Sound.
Milford Road (SH94) is the only road to one of New Zealand’s major tourist attractions – Milford Sound. It is also one of the highest highways in New Zealand, with the highest point of the road reaching 940 meters (3,100 feet) above sea level.
The weather conditions between June and November can be hazardous when vehicles will need to carry chains. There are many road status information signs that will alert you to the need to carry or hook up chains.
Begin your journey in Te Anau, easily reached by road from Queenstown or Invercargill, is a small, scenic town on the edge of Lake Te Anau, Te Anau has plenty of small family-run motels and bed & breakfast lodgings to choose from, cozy little waterfront cafes to enjoy a quiet meal.
The suggested first stop on your trip is a 30 minute drive to Eglinton Valley, a glaciated valley with steep sides and a flat floor, with a river bed floor that is continually changing by the Eglinton River. This is one of the few valleys in Fiordland to have road access.
Continue along the road to Mirror Lakes where on a calm day you can see a perfect reflection of the Earl Mountains, and continue on to the Avenue of the Disappearing Mountain to experience an optical illusion that makes the approaching mountain appear smaller instead of larger as you would expect.
Back on the Millford road , stop off at Lake Gunn and take the easy 45 minute nature walk.
Continue on and stop off at Pops View, lookout point.
As you begin your descent to Millford Sound, you will enter The Homer Tunnel. This tunnel, 1,270 meters (4,200 feet), was carved out from from solid granite and took nearly 20 years to complete. Exercise caution when using the tunnel, turning on your car lights and taking off your sunglasses, as there is no lighting in the tunnel. The tunnel has two very narrow lanes without a dividing line.
Just before Milford, stop off at The Chasm waterfall walk, and take a 20 walk to see a spectacular waterfall where the Cleddau River has carved its way through solid rock.
Continue on to your final destination, Milford Sound.
Millford Sound is a fjord carved from a flooded glacial valley. It is inlet from the sea surrounded on three sides by sheer, towering cliffs, with many waterfalls cascading down the sides. The best way to see the fiord is to take a boat cruise, some of them include a stop at the underwater observatory in Harrison Cove and experience unique underwater marine life.