Milford Road tips for drivers
IntroductionFind information for your Milford Road journey to Milford Sound/Piopiotahi.
The remote Milford Road is particularly busy in the summer season (October to April). Drivers share the road with cars, buses, campervans and minibuses.
There is less traffic in winter months (May to September) but road conditions require more caution.
There are endangered kea along the Milford Road. Do not feed them.
Planning your trip
Te Anau to Milford
Te Anau to Milford and back is 240 km (144 miles). An eight hour day is needed if you plan to take in the scenic sights and short walks along the way, and do a boat cruise on Milford Sound.
Queenstown to Milford
Queenstown to Milford return is 600 km (360 miles) and takes 12-14 hours. We recommend that you plan your return trip to Milford from Te Anau.
Before you leave
Dogs are not allowed in the national park.
There are no shops or fuel stations between Te Anau and Milford Sound. Public toilets are only available at Te Anau, Knob’s Flat and at Milford.
Make sure you have a full tank of fuel before leaving Te Anau, and take food and beverages with you. We also suggest you take insect repellent.
On the road
Milford Road is a scenic highway and everyone will travel at different speeds. If you are holding up other travellers pull over at a safe site and allow queued traffic to pass.
When parking at a scenic spot along the road do not inconvenience other travellers wishing to stop at the same site. Always be aware of pedestrians.
The road is a challenging and, in places, narrow and winding drive. The scenery can be distracting – take your time, be aware of other road users and if you wish to enjoy the views pull over with plenty of warning.
The Homer Tunnel
The Homer Tunnel was completed in 1953 and opened up Milford Sound to road access. The tunnel, at 945 m above sea level, is 1.2 km long and has a steep gradient down towards Milford. It's around 3.81 m tall.
Traffic lights over summer peak periods control traffic flows through the tunnel . This can create delays of up to 20 minutes.
During winter (May to September), driving conditions can be extremely challenging. The road can often be covered in snow and ice. Freezing temperatures cause the road to be icy in places. At this time of year the traffic numbers are low, so it’s advisable to leave later in the morning from 9 am onwards. Drive with extreme care, especially in areas where the road is in the shade.
Check the current road conditions as snow chains may be required. Snow chains are available for rent in Te Anau. Make sure you know how to fit them before starting your journey
Roadside information signs at Te Anau, Knobs Flat and Milford also advise current road conditions.
The section of road between the Hollyford Road junction and The Chasm is a Restricted No Stopping Zone as this is an avalanche area. For more details on the avalanche hazard and winter driving see the Transit NZ website.
If you are not confident about driving in winter conditions, take a bus.
Telephone services are available at Knobs Flat (card-phone), from the Homer Tunnel (satellite phone for emergency use only) and at Milford Sound (card-phone).
There is limited mobile phone coverage outside of TeAnau.
There are several DOC campsites between Te Anau and The Divide. See Fiordland campsites.
There are dumping stations for campservans at Te Anau and Manapōuri. There are no dumping stations at any of the campsites on the Milford Road.
Do not discharge any waste along the road or into the national park.