I am back again with the recounts of my recent 9-day road trip to New Zealand’s South Island. Such an amazing place! Today I will share with you my Milford Sound and Te Anau – New Zealand Guide in the hope that you can find it useful to organise your own trip.
Te Anau is a little town often used as the base to visit the nearby Fiordland National Park, which is one of the most stunning places in the whole world!
We decided to stay in Te Anau for 2 nights to be able to do 2 excursions in the Fiordland National Park: Doubtful Sound and Milford Sound (make sure to check out my previous guide for information on the Doubtful Sound excursion!).
The road between Te Anau and Milford Sound is an attraction on its own. There are some breathtaking stops along the way, so I recommend you leave early and leave some time to enjoy the journey. I will share with you the stops I consider the highlights of this road.
The Eglinton Valley was carved out by glaciers thousands of years ago. Today, steep mountains covered in native beech forest line the valley. The flat floor of the valley is covered in eye-catching golden tussock grass.
Several areas in the Eglinton Valley were locations in the Lord of the Rings movies, in particular, the Eglinton mountains which represented the Misty Mountains in the Fellowship of the Ring.
The Mirror Lakes are world-famous for the way they reflect their surrounding scenery.
Stunningly scenic, on a calm day they provide breathtaking reflections of the Earl mountain ranges opposite.
Located within the Hollyford Valley, Monkey Creek is a glacier-fed spring with water so pure you can drink it straight from the source!
Monkey Creek is a popular place to encounter wildlife on Milford Road. Rare whio (blue duck) live in the creek, but the carpark is also a common spot to find New Zealand’s alpine parrot, the kea.
Just before the Milford Road begins its descent through the Cleddau Valley into Milford Sound, it passes through the Homer Tunnel, a 1.2 km-long tunnel through solid rock. Before the tunnel opened in 1954 after 19 years of construction, there was no road access to Milford Sound.
Although the Homer Tunnel is wide enough for a bus and a small vehicle to pass, traffic lights operate during the busy summer months to keep it safe.
The Chasm is a series of gushing waterfalls just a short walk from the road. From the carpark, you’ll walk through the tranquil native forest along an easy, well-maintained track.
As you near the Chasm, you can’t miss hearing the powerful thunder of the falls. Cross over a series of footbridges and watch the white water gushing down far below, disappearing through the rock and reappearing downstream. Beautiful!
TUTOKO VALLEY ROUTE
This challenging tramping route leads up the Tutoko River valley through beech forest and open flats under impressive Fiordland mountain peaks.
Described by Rudyard Kipling as the “eighth wonder of the world”, Milford Sound was carved by glaciers during the ice ages. And it is indeed breathtaking as you can see from the Lookout near the car park.
The fiord’s cliffs rise vertically from the water and waterfalls cascade downwards from as high as 1000 metres.
Boat cruises – during the day or overnight – are an excellent way to experience the Sound. We booked our cruise with Real Journeys. The cruise lasts a couple of hours and it is not as rough as the one on the Doubtful Sound.
We also got to see fur seals.
The scenery is absolutely breathtaking, however, Milford Sound is not as remote as Doubtful Sound, so it is more touristy and crowded. If you are looking for something quieter, I suggest you also look into visiting Doubtful Sound.
In any case, I still think that a visit to Milford Sound is a must for any South Island trip.
We stayed in Te Anau for 2 nights, so we had 2 dinners.
The first night, we had dinner at The Ranch Bar and Grill.
The food was nice but nothing fancy.
The kids had the fried chicken tenders with fries.
And the mini hotdogs with fries.
And a sundae.
My husband had a venison steak with port jus and wild berries, mushrooms and vegetables.
And I had a plain ribeye steak and salad.
The food was tasty, however, the service was really slow – so much so that we didn’t have dessert.
The second night, we had dinner at The Fat Duck. The food was much better here.
The kids had their kids’ cheeseburger with fries and ice cream.
My husband had a venison medallion with kumara mash, beetroot relish, and parsnip crisps served with a sweet and sour jus. He absolutely loved this!
And I had a plain ribeye steak and fries which was cooked to perfection.
For dessert, we had a classic vanilla Crème Brûlée with mango ice cream.
The food was great and so was the ambiance. I highly recommend The Fat Duck!
We stayed at Distinction Luxmore Hotel Te Anau.
We stayed in a Deluxe Room with 2 Queen Beds, which was perfect for the 4 of us.
The room was spotless and well-appointed and the hotel is in a very good position, near the lake and close to cafes and restaurants. There is also free parking.
I can definitely recommend the Distinction Luxmore Hotel for your stay in Te Anau!
We quite liked Te Anau. It is a small town with a beautiful lake and lots of nice restaurants and cafes. It is a great place to stay and use it as the base to explore the surrounding area. Many people prefer to visit the Fiordland National Park from Queenstown, however, I would suggest you stay in Te Anau, which is much closer to the park.
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