The Road to Milford Sound – Day 146
What to do on the Road to Milford Sound
Check out this video of some awesome things to do on the Mildford Road. If you liked this video and want to see more 365 Days: 365 Activities, then join our backpacker squad over on YouTube!
Today we are gonna hop on New Zealand’s most scenic journey. We are tackling the 120km of the Milford Road.
Today we are hitting the famous Milford Sound Road which is one of the most scenic trips you can do by road in New Zealand. Let’s address the obvious first. Because we are challenging ourselves to do 365 Days and tackling 365 Activities you might think that driving toward Milford Sound is not necessarily an activity however I count that as an activity because there is so much to do along the way.
In fact we have written for you guys on BackpackerGuide.NZ an article giving you 15 ideas where to stop alongside the Milford Sound it’s a really awesome place to drive to and a really awesome place to discover don’t speed through it.
Our first stop today is the magnificent Eglinton Valley. this place looks so unreal it looks like a painting. We are in this huge valley which is about 2km wide and surrounded by beautiful mountains. This whole valley was once covered in glacial ice and it’s completely carved this magical place where we can’t help but spend so long taking photos and having a look at the wildlife around us as well. Then it’s back into the campervan and onto our next pitstop which is only 2km. Next we are heading onto the Mirror Lakes which is probably the most stopped place on the Milford Road as the name suggests, it is a lake which is super reflective. A funny fact about the Mirror Lakes is that every single guide that we ever read told us that the hike toward the lake is about 15 minutes long however it’s more like a minute and half.
Mirror Lake on the famous Milford Sound road. The pit stop that every single person does.
I don’t know anyone that drove Milford Sound and didn’t stop at the Mirror Lakes. World famous sign Mirror Lake.
Mirror Lake is best checked out in perfect weather just because there’s not going to be any wind and the lake is gonna be perfectly reflective. Today there’s gonna be a little bit of wind so a little bit of waves on the lake and it doesn’t look as perfect as usual. But it’s still an awesome pitstop there is heaps of wildlife. Everybody is super entertained.
Plus the backdrop is absolutely amazing above the lake we can see the Earl Mountains chain. Which is reflecting on the bottom of the water. it’s stunning.
So milford sound and the whole Fiordland National park wouldn’t look as good as does without it’s fair share of rain so it’s no surprise to us that as soon as we arrive close to Milford Sound it starts raining quite a lot.
There’s no point in trying to hide it, Fiordland national Park and Milford Sound are one of the wettest places on Earth. It rains between 3000 to 6000mm per year and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing because looking around us we see all these streams of magnificent waterfalls and it really brings an atmospheric look to the area.
We can’t help ourselves but take so many pitstops to take some pictures there is really a lot of places to stop along the road. It’s really cool that the builders of the road have made sure we can stop in a lot of places to actually stop and rest. It’s quite a challenging road.
We also stop to check out the waterfalls because well waterfalls are awesome there’s even one spot that is in between the Mirror Lakes and Homer Tunnel where we stop and see heaps of waterfalls on one part of the mountain I count 23 of them and it’s so cold today that as soon as the water falls below it creates a massive pile of snow. It’s amazing.
We are now making our way to highest part of the Milford Sound Road which is 945m above sea level baring in mind that we are actually going at sea level where the Milford Sound settlement is but we are almost a 1000m high right now. This road is absolutely epic.
This is as fast as we can go with this van right now we are facing the wind we are going uphill and I guess the engine must be really cool because of the weather so I cannot go faster than 22km/h so we are slowly making our way to the Homer Tunnel we maybe there by the end of the day.
We are now approaching the famous Homer Tunnel which is probably one of the most memorable parts of the Milford Road. Once you get there though, you could be waiting over 20 minutes at the traffic lights because it is a one way tunnel.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 … Right now we’re playing count the waterfalls and I am already at 41 and there is still more than that. It’s insane especially just up there. Show the people Laura, show the good people.
The Homer Tunnel stretches about 1.2km piercing through the granite mountains of the Darren Mountain ranges and it really is a feat of engineering. It took around 20 years to build this massive tunnel. it opened up around 1953 and it marks our first descent into the Milford Sound area. All we can hear is the roaring of our campervan engine echoing through the tunnel but eventually we see the light of day once again and the views at the end are spectacular!
As we are making our way to Milford Sound Lodge which is going to be our accommodation for our Milford Sound adventures we are going to be leaving you with one last piece of advice because there is over 1 million people visiting Milford Sound every year it gets super busy so try to tackle this road in the middle of the day not in the morning or evening.
I’m going to do a testimonial with a mint in my mouth maybe that wasn’t such a good idea. I’ll put my mint back in my mouth.