The drive from Queenstown to Milford Sound Fiord is one of the most iconic and breathtaking journeys in New Zealand. In this blog, we will explore the interesting places and sites along the way, as well as discuss alternative ways to visit Milford Sound from Queenstown. Whether you choose to drive, take a coach, fly, or even walk, there are plenty of options to choose from. Let’s dive into the details and discover the wonders of this incredible route.

Driving Options

There are several ways to travel from Queenstown to Milford Sound. The most common option is to drive by car, which takes approximately 5 hours one way. The route follows State Highway 6 and then State Highway 94, offering stunning views of Lake Wakitipu along the way. Other options include taking a coach tour from Queenstown, incorporating a cruise, or flying from Queenstown airport to Milford Sound. Each option offers a unique experience and allows you to explore the beauty of the region.

Interesting Stops Along the Way

As you embark on your journey, there are several noteworthy stops worth considering. Devil’s Staircase is a gorgeous spot where you can enjoy the scenery and admire the mountains across Lake Wakatipu. Kingston, a former base for a steam engine, offers a lovely little village with a cafe and toilet facilities. Gaston is another charming village where you can find a coffee shop and public toilets. As you continue south, you’ll pass through Athol, a small rural town, before reaching Five Rivers, where you can find a cafe and head towards Mossburn. Along the way, you’ll come across beautiful landscapes, including red tussock conservation areas and stunning farming regions.

Te Anau and Fiordland National Park

Te Anau is the hiking capital of New Zealand and the gateway to the Fiordland National Park. This area is a must-visit for nature enthusiasts, offering multiple hiking tracks and walks. The Kepler Track, Hollyford Track, and Routeburn Track are just a few of the options available. Te Anau also provides an opportunity to explore Lake Te Anau, which is a fiord carved by glaciers over millions of years. From Te Anau, you can embark on the Milford Track, a famous 4-day hike that takes you through breathtaking landscapes. Alternatively, you can opt for a day hike or a water taxi tour to Sandfly Point, the finishing point of the Milford Track.

Driving through Fiordland National Park

As you enter Fiordland National Park, the drive becomes more winding, offering incredible views of the Eglington Valley. Mirror Lake is a popular stop along the way, where you can admire the reflection of the surrounding mountains. Lake Gunn is another picturesque spot with a campground, allowing you to immerse yourself in nature. The Divide marks the starting point of the Routeburn Track, a world-renowned walk that connects Queenstown to Fiordland. Continuing the journey, you’ll encounter Monkey Creek, which provides breathtaking views of the valley. The Homer Tunnel, finished in 1953, takes you through a zig-zaggy road with spectacular rock walls on either side. Along the way, you can also explore attractions such as Christy Falls, Donne River Bridge, and the stunning Gertrude Saddle.

Arriving at Milford Sound

After passing through the Homer Tunnel, you’ll be greeted with the awe-inspiring beauty of Milford Sound. This popular tourist destination offers various activities, including cruises and kayaking tours. You can spend a couple of hours on a cruise, marveling at the stunning waterfalls and wildlife. For those seeking a more immersive experience, consider an overnight cruise or embark on the Milford Track, a multi-day hike through the pristine wilderness. Accommodation options in Milford Sound are limited, but the Milford Sound Lodge is a popular choice with its chalets and stunning surroundings.

Alternative Options and Itineraries

While a day trip from Queenstown to Milford Sound is a popular choice, staying in Te Anau for a few nights offers a more relaxed and immersive experience. Te Anau provides a range of accommodation options, and from there, you can explore the Milford Sound area at your leisure. Consider hiking the Kepler Track, visiting key viewpoints such as Key Summit, or venturing into the more remote areas like Hollyford Valley and Tutoko Valley. Additionally, incorporating the Milford Sound region into a larger itinerary by flying into Queenstown or traveling from Dunedin allows for a more balanced and comprehensive experience of the South Island.


The drive from Queenstown to Milford Sound Fiord is a journey of awe-inspiring beauty and natural wonders. Whether you choose to drive, take a coach, fly, or even walk, this route offers a plethora of breathtaking sights and experiences. From the winding roads and picturesque villages to the majestic landscapes of Fiordland National Park and the tranquility of Milford Sound, every moment of this journey is filled with wonder. So, pack your bags, hit the road, and embark on an unforgettable adventure through the heart of New Zealand’s scenic beauty.

2 responses to “The Scenic Drive from Queenstown to Milford Sound Fiord”

  1. Graeme says:

    The article states that the Homer Tunnel was constructed in the 1960’s. It was completed in 1953.

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