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Drive Queenstown to Milford Sound?

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Dublin, Ireland
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Drive Queenstown to Milford Sound?

Just wondering how long the drive from Queenstown to Milford Sound is - miles & hours please..? I'm looking at a map and it says its 291km, but friends are telling me it takes about 5 and a half hours to drive!!! Can anyone help please - travelling mid November!

Thanks in advance for your help!

Queenstown, New...
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1. Re: Drive Queenstown to Milford Sound?


The Milford trip is a long day. Some idiots do the one way trip in less than 3.5 hours but there are traffic police on this section of road for these guys. Most people head off early from Te Anau to catch the early boats, allowing 2 1/4 - 2.5 hours for all the stops. Queenstown to Te Anau is two hours. What we suggest to people who are driving from Queenstown, is that you aim for a boat just after the midday rush , the 1pm Nature Cruise or the 1.50 mitre Peak boat. Then you take a slow drive back to Queenstown , stopping in at Te Anau for your evening meal. Doing this makes the day. Rather than two 4 hour long drives in one day. It is a beautiful bit of road, which requires you to watch your rearview mirror, as the Europeans think they are on the Autobarns and drive at rediculous speeds, on a road they don't know.

Have a good trip

New Zealand
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for South Island
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2. Re: Drive Queenstown to Milford Sound?


Queenstown/Milford/Queenstown makes for an exhausting 12 hour day. It's best to drive to Te Anau for the night, perhaps enjoy the Glow Worm Caves and short movie Ata Whenua - Shadowland. The following day drive into Milford and enjoy the cruise before returning to Te Anau for a second night.

If you don't have time for two nights in Te Anau then consider driving Queenstown to Milford, enjoy the cruise, then spend the night in Te Anau. It's a stunning part of the world... it would be a waste to rush through it, exhausted.

Sydney, Australia
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3. Re: Drive Queenstown to Milford Sound?

I have driven between queenstown 3 times now, and everytime it has taken us approx 5hrs each way. This is driving at the speed of 100Km’s an hour on a straight road. You will note that the distance between the two towns is small, but note that you will be driving in between mountains, and as a result you will not be going 100km’s all the way you will most prob be travelling at a an avg speed of around 60 – 80 kms’s an hour.

Good idea to leave queenstown around 7.00 – 8.00 am. You will love the sunrise in the morning it is one of the most beautiful experiences. You will get to Te Anau in about 2 hours and fill up your petrol (as you wont get any petrol stations after this town into milford – I noticed there is a small petrol station in Milford sounds but don’t know if it works???) and stop for a coffee at the lake. This is also a beautiful little town.

It will then take you maybe another 3hours to get to Milford sounds as im sure youll be stopping to take pictures or admiring the ice laden mountains, mirror lakes etc.

The boat rides in Milford sound are about 2 hours long, so by the time you finish at milford it will be about 3 – 4pm. There is no real accommodation in milford so ideally you can drive back to te anau and stay there for the night or drive back to queenstown. I have always driven back to queenstown due to the fact that its easier leaving your luggage at your hotel rather then packing it into the car and wasting time doing soo in the morning..

Have a great time you will love the experience. And please drive to the conditions and to the speed limit – let all idiots who speed to pass you, and note that there are plenty of cops on these roads….

co. donegal
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4. Re: Drive Queenstown to Milford Sound?

i used to live between the two and yeah it will take best part of 5 hours the road outside queenstwon is and awful twisty windy road for miles and apparently the traffic cops have gotten alot worse it ias possible to do it in four hours but best allow 5

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5. Re: Drive Queenstown to Milford Sound?

I recommend saving yourself a lot of hassle and just going on the coach. You can relax and enjoy the scenery and commentary on the local area and wildlife without stressing about directions and the road. It is a very long drive and parts of the road can be very icy. I am told that accidents are very frequent.

At approx $125 per adult for the coach trip and boat trip I think it is great value for money. I just did the Mitre Peak Cruises trip and it was excellent.

As other people have suggested, the only way to sensibly do the drive yourself is to stay overnight in Te Anau.

Wanaka, New Zealand
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6. Re: Drive Queenstown to Milford Sound?

Dixiechick has some good advice there. By the time you take in the cost of your fuel and the toll it will take on the driver, who really won't get much out of the experience of a stunningly pituresque road, the organised trip is definitely worth it. Plus you will get a lot of local knowledge on the flora and fauna rather than trying to read it from the book.

From my experience with hubby driving, we were concentrating too much on getting to the wharf on time to get the boat that we had booked, so didn't stop off anywhere on the way there. and for the trip back, he didn't want to stop off anywhere because of the long drive back that we had to do.

There are other options that make it a shorter day than coach/cruise/coach 12 hour trip - you could fly/cruise/coach or heli/cruise/coach instead which cuts the day down by about half.

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7. Re: Drive Queenstown to Milford Sound?

The road from Queenstown to Te Anau is pretty easy to drive along, but it does take around two hours. From Te Anau to Milford the road is narrow and in some parts steep. Along the way you really want to stop at some of the photo points to take pictures rather than just rushing there. The waterfall at the entrance to the Homer Tunnel is spectacular as is the drive through the tunnel down to Milford. In addition to the cruise there are several walks around Milford which will give you a much better feel for the place and much better photo opportunities!

I strongly recommend splitting the trip over two days so that the driver can also enjoy the view along with passengers and it is not so tiring for all. We went with 5 persons in the car so the cost of car hire and fuel was a lot less than a bus ride and you could stop when and where you wanted - that's the advantage of driving yourself.

Have lots of film or memory cards ready to take several hundred pictures of the landscape, flora, fauna, etc etc.

8. Re: Drive Queenstown to Milford Sound?

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