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Reserve cruise vs. flexibility mid-Dec self-drive to Milford

Claremont...
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Reserve cruise vs. flexibility mid-Dec self-drive to Milford

Four of us will self-drive a mid-December day trip Q'town to Milford Sound (we've read all the cautions about self-drive). Would appreciate advice on:

1) If a Friday in high tourist season is our only possible day, can we still wait until Te Anau or even Milford to reserve in order to maximize flexibility on the scenic road, if hoping for a small boat?

2) We're told aiming for a ca. 1:50pm Mitre Peak cruise would put most tour coaches & other traffic ahead of us- can experts confirm?

3) Have also been told mobile phones have no reception along Milford Road and at Milford Sound- true?

Thanks for all the excellent advice on this forum. It's a big help for first-time NZ visitors!

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1. Re: Reserve cruise vs. flexibility mid-Dec self-drive to Milford

At least on RealJourney's booking site and perhaps the other companies' too, you can look up rea-time availability. That way you can tell if a particular day is starting to fill up and book it.

In December it stays light pretty late, so you can leave Milford after 6 p.m. and still drive most of the way back to Queenstown before it gets dark.

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2. Re: Reserve cruise vs. flexibility mid-Dec self-drive to Milford

Hi explorer

Despite what the booking companies will tell you there is no need to book your cruise until you arrive in Milford Sound. Some tour buses will still be about on the roads for your 1.50pm Mitre Peak cruise, but you will find its not a problem. There will be other traffic on the roads ie. other rental cars and campervans etc. Inexperienced drivers in these vehicles can make this road very dangerous so please take care. Your cell phone will cut out after you leave Te Anau and will remain dead until approaching Te Anau on the return journey.

If I was going to Milford Sound for the first time I would coach in, do the cruise and fly back to Queenstown. This ensures you will have a day you will never ever forget and possibly see landcapes that other mortals can't even dream about.

Enjoy Milford Sound.

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Claremont...
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3. Re: Reserve cruise vs. flexibility mid-Dec self-drive to Milford

Thanks to both for the helpful information. I'm still a bit concerned about waiting until so late to reserve the cruise in summer season, but am happy to take the advice of the experts!

Had it been up to me alone I would not have chosen self-drive, but when traveling with others there are always compromises, and with four careful drivers we should be fine-- and no one person too tired to enjoy the trip.

4. Re: Reserve cruise vs. flexibility mid-Dec self-drive to Milford

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