Places To Visit in New Zealand – The Road To Milford Sound

by Mark Perkins

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One of the most majestic scenic routes in the South Island of New Zealand is the road to Milford Sound, which is probably one of the top places to visit in New Zealand. In this blog post I really only want to concentrate on the road to Milford Sound, rather than the sound itself which, incidently is actually a Fiord.

Before I go any further I am a strong advocate of folk taking a bus trip into here as there is so much to see and take in, that as a driver you would be doing a miss service to yourself and likely to others as this piece of road is one of the more testing roads in New Zealand and during the winter months is often closed due to snow, ice and avalanches.

In fact large vehicles are often stopped by the police to ensure they are carrying snow chains and in some cases have to demonstrate that the driver can fit them.

Once you leave Te Anau you follow the Lake until you get to Te Anau downs, where the famous Milford Track starts from. As you make your way into the Fiordland National Park you go through rows and rows of New Zealand Beech trees. We have Mountain Beech,Red Beech, Black Beech, Silver Beech, White Beech, Sandy Beach’s.. well I thought it was funny.. Oh by the way what do you call Baby Beech Trees?..  ‘Sons of Beeches’. I know don’t stop the day job.

Well back to the story, the area then opens up to the Eglinton Valley and an ideal photo stop. Just a few metres on and you will want to stop at the Mirror Lakes. Start at one end and walk down the path and then return to your vehicle, beware of tour coaches in this area, us coach drivers are always on a mission this day as it is a big one for us. Again just a few 100 meters down the road and you will come across Knobs Flat and the last restrooms before Milford sound. There is an interesting static display in here, about possums and avalanches. Not that the two are related.

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You then start to head on up towards the pass, past Lake Gunn and Lake Fergus. The road starts to narrow and you will come across a lookout called Pop Andrews (bulldozer driver) Lookout, this is a magnificent view down into the Hollyford valley and was one of Pop Andrews favourite places on the Milford Rd until he was tragically killed in an avalanche. Look out near here for some small but great falls on your left hand side as you cross a small one way bridge, continue on down to Monkey Creek.

Then it is up to the Homer tunnel. During the summer months they have traffic lights on either end to control the traffic flow, quite often if you are waiting for the lights to change, have a look around and you could see some Kea (Native New Zealand Alpine Parrott) . Through the tunnel and down the steep glaciated valley, to the chasm. Take a moment to take in the grandeur of this place and its solid rock faces.

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Next thing you know you are at Milford Sound and Mitre Peak. The road to Milford is fantastic in the dry but awesome in the wet as the cliff faces give up to hundreds of spectacular waterfalls, remember they measure the rain in feet not inches in these parts.

Just another one of those fantastic places to visit on your campervan holiday in New Zealand. Round trip from Queenstown is approx 600 + kms


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