For many conscious travellers, driving 120 kilometres along State Highway 94 into the heart of Fiordland National Park from Te Anau to Milford Sound is as much as the journey as it is the destination.
This is the perfect road trip to take things nice and slow, to stop and to savour the sprawling wonderland that lies ahead. Enjoy a stroll around pristine mountain lakes or picnic amidst glacier carved valleys and ancient rainforests – these natural wonders command every bit of your attention and awe as you wind your way through this world heritage area.
Here are the top 5 pit stops along Milford Sound Road to discover:
A popular stop along Milford Sound Road, the show stopping Mirror Lakes are truly a sight to behold. With the stunning backdrop of the Earl Mountains (often snow-capped for those visiting during cooler season), enjoy a quick 10-minute stroll beside these small tarns (mountain lakes) and picturesque waters. The crystal-clear lakes offer entrancing reflections of the scenic surrounds – so make sure you have your camera handy.
Conveniently located in the heart of the great Fiordland wilderness lies Knobs Flat. This is a perfect pit stop about halfway to world-famous Milford Sound. There’s plenty of parking here with accommodation available including studio units, camp sites for sites and campervans. Visitor amenities also include flushing toilets (the last ones before Milford Sound) and a telephone (operated by credit card) which is good to know because there is no mobile phone coverage on Milford Road or Milford Sound. You can also read up on the effects of avalanches on Milford Road along with information on the wildlife of Eglinton valley on the display panels on-site.
A few minutes’ drive from the Divide, turn off from the Milford Road (SH94) at Marian Corner and make your way down the unsealed Hollyford Road. From the Lake Marian carpark, you can choose to do a short 20-minute walk to a viewing platform with some stunning waterfalls or the 3-hour return hike to the hidden gem that is Lake Marian. If you choose to go beyond the falls, the track gets a bit more challenging and steeper so come prepared with good hiking shoes, wet weather gear, snacks and water. Sitting above the bush line, Lake Marian is a pristine alpine lake surrounded by majestic mountains and a hanging valley – an astonishingly beautiful place that you can’t help but stop to enjoy a few quiet moments to admire this natural wonder.
Famed for its pure clear waters, Monkey creek is a glacier-fed spring with waters so pristine you can fill up your water bottle right at the source to drink. Nestled within the stunning Hollyford Valley, Monkey Creek is also home to some iconic New Zealand wildlife including the cheeky alpine parrot, the kea and the rare native blue duck known as whio.
Like to save the best for last? The Chasm is only 10 kilometres away from Milford Sound but is a definite must-do. From the car park, it’s an easy 20-minute loop walk that takes you through a lush beautiful rainforest and over footbridges to a series of stunning waterfalls that have sculpted smooth chasms and deep basins. The mesmerising waters are a force of nature, with a soothing, somewhat hypnotising effect on your senses.