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12 BEST Hikes in Milford Sound + My Top Tips!

12 BEST Hikes in Milford Sound + My Top Tips!

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There’s so much more to Milford Sound than the famous boat cruise through the fiord. In fact, one of my favorite things to do in Milford is to go hiking. With hundreds of waterfalls, tall mountain peaks, Fiordland temperate rainforest, and epic views of a place that resembles another world, it’s no wonder I love hiking in Milford so much!

Thankfully there are loads of hikes to choose from in Milford Sound and on the highway between Te Anau and Milford Sound! There’s a hike for every fitness level and hiking ability from multi-day adventures to short flat trails that take under an hour to enjoy. I continue to tick more off my bucket list every time I visit (which I do a lot from my hometown of Queenstown!).

The scenery in Milford Sound is truly spectacular and in my opinion, there’s no better way to get up close to the beauty of the area than on a hike. Don’t get me wrong, you simply must do a cruise too, but enjoying all Milford has to offer involves getting away from the crowds and onto the walking trails in the area.

In this blog, I’ll tell you about the 12 best hikes in Milford Sound. It’s the ultimate guide to picking the best hikes to do during your visit to Milford Sound.

Don’t have time to read the full article? I love that there is a range of hikes in Milford Sound! You can take on the ‘finest walk in the world’ on the Milford Track, a 53 km 4-day track with gorgeous scenery. Or enjoy a nice short yet scenic trail, like the Milford Foreshore Walk, which still leaves time to take a scenic boat cruise through the fiord!

How to Enjoy Hiking in Milford Sound

Bailey sits on the Milford Sound Swing in Milford Sound
The Milford Sound Swing!

I’m not going to dive straight into the best hikes just yet. First, I want to help those who may not quite understand how to enjoy the hikes in Milford Sound when there’s so much driving involved to get to Milford Sound. This is especially true if you’re driving from Queenstown to Milford Sound!

To be honest, if you plan on driving from Queenstown to Milford and back in the same day you won’t have time to enjoy one of the longer trails on this list. There’s just simply not enough time with a 4-hour drive each way!

However, if you choose to spend the night in Te Anau before and after your visit to Milford or stay in Milford Sound itself at the Milford Sound Lodge, then you will have time to enjoy one or maybe even three hikes. This is because Te Anau is only 1.5 hours from Milford Sound, so staying here makes for a convenient way to enjoy the fiord.

This is what I always do! And if you’re like me and have hiking in Milford Sound high on your bucket list, you should too. Plus, there are a ton of awesome things to do in Te Anau, and it’s one of my favorite places to visit on the South Island.

There are plenty of good accommodations in Te Anau, you can find an extensive list at the bottom of this blog!

Of course, not everyone will have the time to do this and that’s understandable. If this is you, stick to the shorter trails on this list such as the Milford Sound Lookout Track, Milford Sound Foreshore Walk, The Chasm, and the Bowen Falls Walk!

Related Read: Driving Milford Road is one of the best road trips on the South Island – learn about other must-do road trips in my blog!

12 EPIC Hikes in Milford Sound

1. Milford Sound Lookout Track

The view from the Milford Sound Lookout Track
Surprisingly, not many people know about the Milford Sound Lookout Track!
  • Distance: 400 meters (0.25 miles) each way
  • Time Needed: 20 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy

First up is one of the easiest trails on this list and a personal favorite of mine. Starting at the parking lot behind the Milford Information Center & Café, the Milford Sound Lookout Track gives you a beautiful view over Milford Sound. You’ll instantly know why visiting Milford Sound is worth it!

To get to the trail, head past the visitor center in the parking lot and towards Donald Sutherland’s grave. To the left of the grave is a brown hedge – the track officially starts behind this hedge. It sounds a little complicated to find the start of the track, but it’s actually super easy to find and is on Google Maps.

There are quite a few steps up to the viewpoint but the view is truly spectacular taking in Milford Sound and its surrounding peaks. After snapping a few photos return via the same track.

This trail is short and suitable for the entire family and is one hike in Milford Sound every visitor should do! So if you’re visiting Milford from Queenstown with kiddos, add this hike to your itinerary!

2. Milford Track

Waterfall on the Milford Track
Just a beautiful waterfall on the Milford Track! Drink anyone?
  • Distance: 53.5 km one way (33.24 miles)
  • Time Needed: 4 days
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Important Information: Recommended from late October to April unless you have alpine & river-crossing experience.

The Milford Track is often labeled as the ‘finest walk in the world’ by guidebooks and travel websites – it’s also one of the best things to do on the South Island. This famous walk takes you through glacier-carved valleys, a lush rainforest, and past giant waterfalls. It’s no wonder booking this hike is not only required but also very hard to do – it sells out for the Great Walks season within hours of bookings opening every year. It’s no surprise that the Milford Track is often considered one of the best things to do in New Zealand.

The Milford Track is most commonly hiked over 3 nights/4 days. Below I’ve broken down each day for you:

Day One: Glade Wharf to Clinton Hut (5 km/3.1 mi) – On the first day you must take a water taxi from Glade Wharf in the Te Anau Downs to the trailhead. Once you land on dry land (after the 75-minute boat journey) it’s an easy walk through native forest and along the Clinton River to your accommodation for the night – Clinton Hut. It is a 40-bunk hut and bookings are required during the Great Walks Season (generally from the end of October to the end of April), during these dates it costs $78 NZD per adult per night and $110 NZD for international adults. Outside of these dates the hut operates on a first-come-first-served basis and costs just $15 per adult per night (this is the same for all the huts below).

Day Two: Clinton Hut to Mintaro Hut (16.5 km/10.3 mi) – You will start the day with a slow and steady climb along the Clinton River to Lake Mintaro. This lake sits at the base of the famed Mackinnon Pass and the scenery here is gorgeous. After this, you will pass Hirere Falls – the views from here are spectacular and include the Pompolona Icefield as well as the Mackinnon Pass. The end of this section of the track involves a climb up the Clinton Valley to Mintaro Hut.

This is a new hut that opened in April 2021, it has 40 bunks and basic facilities. It has the same price breakdown as the Clinton Hut.

Day Three: Mintaro Hut to Dumpling Hut (14 km/8.7 mi) – start this day with a climb up the Mackinnon Pass to the McKinnon Memorial. Pause here to take in the views of Lake Mintaro and Clinton Canyon. Then, climb steeply to the Mackinnon Pass Shelter at 1,154 meters (3,786 feet) above sea level. After this, you must descend past the alpine garden and several waterfalls to the valley floor and Quintin Shelter. From here, the track to Dumpling Hut offers excellent views of Sutherland Falls.

Dumpling Hut has 40 bunks and has the same price breakdown as the Clinton Hut.

Day Four: Dumpling Hut to Sandfly Point (18 km/11 mi) – your last day on the track requires the most effort taking in a whopping 18 km (11 mi) of terrain. Depart Dumpling Hut and follow the track along the Arthur River to the historic Boatshed. A couple of kilometers in will take you to Mackay Falls and Bell Rock. Thankfully, the final stretch is a flat wide track to the boat departure point which will take you back to Sandfly Point in Milford Sound Village.

If you plan on hiking the Milford Track extensive planning is required beforehand, but let me tell you it’s all worth it. Check out the Department of Conservation website for more details on how to book.

Alternatively, you can hike just a portion of the Milford Track on this half-day guided hike! This gives you a taste of the trail and maybe you’ll enjoy it so much, you’ll come back and tackle the whole thing. This 4-hour tour provides a water taxi and a local guide so you can learn about this beautiful ecosystem as you spend a few hours exploring. Twelve people can join the tour, so it’s a good way to make some friends as you hike! You can see the details and reserve this tour in advance here.

Related Read: For more info on other Great Walks, check out my blogs about the best hikes in NZ and the best hikes on the North Island!

3. Milford Foreshore Walk

Milford Sound from the foreshore
The endpoint is this magnificent place!
  • Distance: 400 meters (0.25 mi)
  • Time Needed: 20 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy

The Milford Foreshore Walk is a 20-minute loop track of just 400 meters (0.25 miles). It’s suitable for the whole family and is wheelchair and stroller-friendly. It begins from the main parking lot at Milford Sound and is well-signposted. Watch the cruise boats coming in and out from the viewing points and of course, take lots of photos of majestic Mitre Peak.

You can read about the flora, fauna, and birdlife in the area on the many interpretative boards dotted along the track.

This track holds a hidden treasure because it leads to Milford Swing – a gorgeous wooden swing with the most beautiful view of Mitre Peak. To reach the Swing, follow the Foreshore Walk until you cross the little wooden bridge, keep walking for about 5 minutes and keep a lookout to your right and you will spot the swing – it’s on a small sandy patch jutting out into the water on a small peninsular.

4. Bowen Falls Walk

lady-bowen-falls-milford-sound
The stunning Lady Bowen Falls!
  • Distance: 300 meters (0.19 miles)
  • Time Needed: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: Intermediate

The Bowen Falls Walk is a unique walk in Milford Sound as it’s only accessible by boat. You must start this track from the wharf at Freshwater Basin, where a boat will transfer you the short 120 meters (400 feet) to the other side. This is where the walking track officially begins. The boat trip costs $10 NZD for adults and $5 for children. Tickets can be purchased at the main terminal.

The hike will take about 30 minutes total to complete (including the short boat journey there and back). It’s a gradual uphill climb through the native forest to the viewing platform at the top. From here you can see (and feel) the majestic 162-meter-tall (531 feet) Lady Bowen Falls. In fact, this is the tallest waterfall in Milford Sound and it actually powers the village. After rainfall, the falls are even more photogenic!

Note that the boat from Freshwater Basin isn’t available during the winter, so this visiting Lady Bowen Falls is only accessible during the summer!

5. The Chasm

The Chasm
The rock formations are beautiful!
  • Distance: 400 meters (0.25 miles)
  • Time Needed: 20 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy

The Chasm is a cool rock formation and waterfall located only a 5-minute drive from the Milford Sound foreshore. The hike there is a short and sweet 400-meter (0.25 mile) return track, that should take just 20 minutes to complete. The track starts at the large Chasm parking lot which is approximately 9 km (5.6 mi) south of Milford Sound.

You will hear the mighty Chasm Waterfall before you see it. It’s notoriously hard to photograph due to the sheer depth of it but there are two decent photo opportunities to be had from the two footbridges over the Cleddau River. Be sure to check out the interesting rock formations caused by the falls on your walk and enjoy the beautiful rainforest here.

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6. Gertrude Saddle Route

Gertrude Saddle Route views
The stunning Gertrude Saddle Route view!
  • Distance: 7 km (4.3 miles) return track
  • Time Needed: 4-6 hours
  • Difficulty: Hard/technical

One of the most challenging and rewarding day hikes in Milford Sound is the Gertrude Saddle Route. This is a very difficult hike which will take a minimum of 4 hours even though it’s only 7 km (4.3 mi) in length. Due to the rocky terrain, steep climbs, and need for rope assistance on some sections, I recommend only attempting this in good weather and if you’re an experienced hiker. It’s really not recommended for children.

The track starts in front of the Gertrude Valley parking lot, about 20 minutes from Milford Sound and near the famed Homer Tunnel just off the main road – it is well signposted. The track is relatively easy to begin with and meanders through the Gertrude Valley. If you’re not an experienced hiker then I advise stopping here at the viewpoint and returning via the same track.

If you wish to continue on – at the head of the valley the route is signposted for the saddle. But after this, there are no permanent track markers just orange marker poles. Some hikers have left behind cairns (piles of rocks) to help you on your way in the absence of the orange poles.

You will come to cross the Gertrude Stream which is below a steep waterfall area so water levels can be high and fast-flowing. Therefore, only follow the orange poles and don’t go off track as unfortunately, hikers have died by crossing the river at the wrong time.

The next section is very steep and not suitable for those with limited experience or a fear of heights (it’s incredibly steep). The section up to Black Lake requires the aid of chain ropes on the trail. Sit by the shores of Black Lake and take in the astounding scenery before continuing. From here, the track follows over steep rock slabs. This section is very dangerous when wet or frosty but there are steel cables to assist you.

To get to the saddle you’ll need to climb over rocks and boulders (usually covered in snow, even during the summer months). Of course, the views when you reach the saddle are breathtaking and I can tell you it’s one of the best views in New Zealand taking in the unspoiled Gertrude Valley and even down to Milford Sound.

7. Lake Gunn Nature Walk

Lake Gunn, New Zealand
On a moody day with epic clouds!
  • Distance: 1.4 km (0.9 miles)
  • Time Needed: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy

The Lake Gunn Nature Walk trailhead is near the Cascade Creek parking lot, about 40 minutes south of Milford Sound at a turn-off on SH94. It is a popular and easy walking track, and considering it’s only a short 30-minute walk, the trail offers a great adventure through the wilderness of Fiordland National Park. Spot mossy trees, stony beaches, and unique birdlife.

A short stony side path takes you down onto the shores of Lake Gunn – a gorgeous deep blue lake that sits at 480 meters (1,575 feet) above sea level. You may be lucky enough to see the rare Paradise Ducks here or catch reflections of the surrounding mountains.

The track is wheelchair and stroller accessible, so is a great option for the whole family.

8. Lake Marian Track

a lady sits on a rock at Lake Marian
Right before I decided to go for a swim!
  • Distance: 3.1 km each way (2 miles)
  • Time Needed: 3 hours total
  • Difficulty: Moderate/hard

Lake Marian Track is my personal favorite hike in Milford Sound and one of the best hikes on the South Island. You can access this popular hike in Milford from Hollyford Road, which is a turn-off on the main highway (SH94) into Milford. It’s 40 minutes from Milford. There are two walking tracks you can take here depending on how much time you have. There’s a 20-minute track into the waterfalls and a 3-hour return track to Lake Marian.

From the parking lot, you will walk across a swing bridge before coming to a stunning series of waterfalls. After these falls continue uphill for about 1.5 hours to Lake Marian. This track can get pretty muddy so wear appropriate footwear.

Lake Marian is an alpine lake in a hanging valley formed by glaciers. Like Mirror Lakes (another lake on the road to Milford Sound) it has stunning reflections of the surrounding mountains on a clear, calm day. Although you can turn back at the waterfalls, I highly suggest continuing to the lake – it’s just that beautiful! With that said, if you’re simply after a short hike in Milford, the walk to the falls and back should only take around 30 minutes or so.

9. Humboldt Falls Track

  • Distance: 1.2 km (0.8 miles) return on the same track
  • Time Needed: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy

This short and easy hiking track in Milford starts from the end of the unsealed Hollyford Road. Turn off the SH94 at Marian Corner, a few minutes after The Divide.

Humboldt Falls Track is a lovely little hike through the rainforest and involves a short climb to the lookout point. Humboldt Falls is considered one of the best waterfalls in the area. The total height of Humboldt Falls is a giant 275 meters (902 feet)!

10. The Key Summit

A tarn on the Key Summit reflects the surrounding mountains
The small tarn on the Key Summit creates amazing mirror-like reflections!
  • Distance: 3.4 km one way (2.1 miles)
  • Time Needed: 3 hours
  • Difficulty: Intermediate

The Key Summit is part of the Routeburn Track, therefore they take off from the same parking lot! This is easily one of the most popular hikes in Milford!

You’ll begin on the Routeburn Track for about an hour, this will lead to the start of the Key Summit Track (which is signposted). From here, it’s a 20-minute uphill climb to Key Summit. It’s not the steepest climb and can be done easily if you have a reasonable level of fitness. At the top, there are 360-degree views over the Humboldt and Darran Mountains.

This is considered by many as one of the most beautiful hikes in Milford Sound because it takes in epic views of Fiordland National Park. It also offers the chance to spot native birdlife. You will return via the same track.

The longer Routeburn Track continues on and is one of the most famous hikes in New Zealand. It was named one of the “Top 10 Classic Hikes in the World” by Lonely Planet and is one of New Zealand’s 10 Great Walks. Most people hike the trail over 2 nights and 3 days, however, it is also popular to hike parts of the Routeburn Track in a day.

Tip: Try to plan to hike the Key Summit on a clear day. With cloud cover, you won’t have the panoramic views this epic hike is famous for.

11. Moraine Creek Route

  • Distance: 5.5 km one way (3.4 miles)
  • Time Needed: 7 – 9 hours / 9 – 11 hours to Bivy Creek
  • Difficulty: Expert

Moraine Creek Route is one of the lesser-known hikes near Milford. To get to the trailhead, you’ll need to drive to the end of Hollyford Road (an unsealed road). This is a popular stop for anyone driving from Te Anau and Milford Sound.

The trail starts by crossing the Hollyford River on a swingbridge before a steady incline up the north bank of Moraine Creek. This trail requires a lot of tramping through mud and tough terrain- it is not for the faint of heart! You’ll work your way through the forest before finally reaching Lake Adelaide. Lake Adelaide is an impressive sight with its surrounding rock walls – a popular spot for rock climbers!

You can continue this track to Bivvy Creek, but the trail isn’t completely marked or maintained, so only take this on if you’re a seasoned hiker.

Keep in mind that it is not recommended to hike this track in the winter to early spring, as it’s in an avalanche area!

If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path hike in Milford, Moraine Creek Route is the perfect adventure for you!

12. Hollyford Track

Views on the Hollyford Track
The Hollyford Track is one of the most underrated in New Zealand.
  • Distance: 56 km (35 miles)
  • Time Needed: 4 – 5 days
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Important Information: The trail is only recommended for people with moderate-level backcountry experience.

The Hollyford Track is a fantastic option if you want a true sense of the wilderness in Fiordland National Park. It’s one of the most interesting hikes in Milford Sound. The track is only suitable for those with a reasonable level of fitness as well as previous hiking experience as sections of the track can be muddy and ill-defined. Depending on the season in Milford Sound there may be unbridged streams and river crossings as part of your hike, so, always check the weather before you depart.

The track starts at the end of Lower Hollyford Road off SH94 (just after The Divide). It is a 19 km (12 mi) drive from Milford Sound. The track takes most experienced hikers between 4 and 5 days however, some people take up to 8. There are lots of huts you can stay in on your hike, all are on a first-come-first-serve basis and are listed below.

The track takes you through lush forest, beside the Hollyford River, along impressive lakes such as Lake Alabaster and Lake McKerrow. It even passes through the now-abandoned Jamestown, a tiny farming village from the 1870s before taking you out onto the wild West Coast. The track ends at sea at Martins Bay. For most of the track, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re in Jurassic Park!

When you reach the end of the track at Martins Bay be sure to keep your eyes peeled for New Zealand Fur Seals frolicking in the waters as well as the Fiordland Crested Penguins.

With no alpine sections, this track is rarely cut off by snow so you can hike it even in winter. Beware that flooding can sometimes affect the track so, check conditions before you go. 

The huts as part of this popular track include the following:

  • Hidden Falls Hut – 12 bunks; first-come-first-served; $25 per adult per night
  • Lake Alabaster Hut – 26 bunks; first-come-first-served; $25 per adult per night
  • McKerrow Island Hut – 12 bunks; first-come-first-served; $10 per adult per night
  • Demon Trail Hut – 12 bunks; first-come-first-served; $25 per adult per night
  • Hokuri Hut – 12 bunks; first-come-first-serve;, $25 per adult per night
  • Martins Bay Hut – 24 bunks; first-come-first-served; $25 per adult per night

Although these huts are first-come-first-serve, you need to have a hut tickets or a backcountry pass to show that you’ve paid to stay. You can purchase these at any DOC visitor center or read about booking and paying for huts in advance here.

Related Read: If you love hiking, be sure to read my blogs about the best hikes in Queenstown, the best hikes in Mount Cook National Park, and the best hikes in Wanaka!

Book a Milford Sound Cruise

A lady stands at the front of a cruise ship in Milford Sound on a rainy day trip from Queenstown
Just enjoying the views of Milford on a nature cruise.

Sure, you want to do some epic hikes in Milford. But that doesn’t mean you should skip a cruise! Going on a boat cruise in Milford is one way to explore more of this magical fiord – sections that you simply cannot reach on foot.

I recommend booking this small-group tour with Cruise Milford or this smaller boat nature cruise. Both are great cruises on smaller vessels which means you can get as close as possible to the action. You’ll go right underneath waterfalls and have the opportunity to spot more wildlife including seals and penguins. These cruises are just shy of 2 hours long, which leaves plenty of time to hike so you get the best of both worlds! Plus, less than $150 NZD for a small group cruise is a great price- be sure to secure your Cruise Milford tour or Nature Cruise tour before they book up!

If you truly want a bucket list experience, then opt for this overnight cruise of Milford Sound. You’ll get to watch the sunrise, enjoy the stars from the onboard hot tub, and there are large windows right in your room to take in the view. I wrote a complete review of the Milford Sound overnight cruise and let me tell you, it didn’t disappoint!

Whatever you do, be sure to book your cruise in Milford in advance. If you don’t, the smaller boats will often be fully booked already and you’ll end up on one of the huge boats (not as good if you ask me).

Related Read: One of the most popular ways to visit Milford is on a tour from Queenstown. Check out my blog about all of the different Milford tours available from Queenstown.

Why I Book Tours with Viator

Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! I almost always book tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:

  • Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
  • Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
  • Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
  • Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.

Check out the Viator website here!

Where to Stay in Te Anau

Our campervan at a holiday park in Te Anau

Although only a small town, Te Anau boasts lots of amazing places to stay. I almost always stay here when exploring Milford Sound. The reason? Well, I like to take my time on the road from Te Anau to Milford Sound, stopping along the way to enjoy hikes and viewpoints. The only way to do this is to stay in Te Anau or Milford Sound itself (which is much more expensive).

Te Anau Lakeview Kiwi Holiday Park and Motels – $

For budget travelers, you can’t beat staying at the Te Anau Lakeview Kiwi Holiday Park and Motels. It’s perfect for those on a road trip in a campervan or motorhome and has budget rooms available. For those traveling with families, you’ll also be happy to know that there’s an on-site children’s playground, as well as a hot tub where you can relax after a busy day!

A basic non-powered campsite starts at around $61 NZD per night, or you can opt for your own room starting from $103 NZD per night. You can check availability and book here on Booking.com.

Lakefront Backpackers – $

Another fantastic budget choice is Te Anau Lakefront Backpackers, which offers super affordable dorm rooms, private rooms, and even glamping tents! There’s free Wi-Fi throughout the property, as well as a movie room and indoor/outdoor cooking facilities – perfect for rustling up some packed meals to take with you on your adventures.

A bed in a dorm here at Lakefront Backpackers starts at around $42 NZD per night, and I’ve got nothing but praise for their super-friendly staff! You can book your stay here on Booking.com.

Aden Motel – $$

If you can spend a little more, I love staying at the Aden Motel. They have studio, 1-bedroom, and 2-bedroom apartments that are absolutely beautiful. It’s just a 2-minute walk from the lake, and all apartments come with a kitchenette or kitchen as standard.

Just a 15-minute walk from the town center, you’re far enough away to enjoy the quiet, while also close enough to the action for whenever you’d like to venture into town. Plus, you really can’t beat the price when it comes to the value you get here! Rooms at the Aden Motel start at around $222 NZD and can be booked here on Booking.com.

Fiordland Lakeview Motel and Apartments – $$$

Last, but certainly not least, Fiordland Lakeview Motel and Apartments offers stunning accommodation right on the shores of Lake Te Anau, just a 10-minute walk from the town center. The property also received an extensive renovation in 2019, with their deluxe studio rooms coming equipped with state-of-the-art amenities – think 55-inch TV screens, electric fires, coffee machines – you name it.

Honestly, the only downside to this hotel is that once you arrive, you’ll never want to leave! Rooms here range anywhere from $275 to $600 NZD, although you can find some great deals if you book your room online in advance.

Where to Stay in Te Anau

Our campervan at a holiday park in Te Anau

Although only a small town, Te Anau boasts lots of amazing places to stay. I almost always stay here when exploring Milford Sound. The reason? Well, I like to take my time on the road from Te Anau to Milford Sound, stopping along the way to enjoy hikes and viewpoints. The only way to do this is to stay in Te Anau or Milford Sound itself (which is much more expensive).

Te Anau Lakeview Kiwi Holiday Park and Motels – $

For budget travelers, you can’t beat staying at the Te Anau Lakeview Kiwi Holiday Park and Motels. It’s perfect for those on a road trip in a campervan or motorhome and has budget rooms available. For those traveling with families, you’ll also be happy to know that there’s an on-site children’s playground, as well as a hot tub where you can relax after a busy day!

A basic non-powered campsite starts at around $61 NZD per night, or you can opt for your own room starting from $103 NZD per night. You can check availability and book here on Booking.com.

Lakefront Backpackers – $

Another fantastic budget choice is Te Anau Lakefront Backpackers, which offers super affordable dorm rooms, private rooms, and even glamping tents! There’s free Wi-Fi throughout the property, as well as a movie room and indoor/outdoor cooking facilities – perfect for rustling up some packed meals to take with you on your adventures.

A bed in a dorm here at Lakefront Backpackers starts at around $42 NZD per night, and I’ve got nothing but praise for their super-friendly staff! You can book your stay here on Booking.com.

Aden Motel – $$

If you can spend a little more, I love staying at the Aden Motel. They have studio, 1-bedroom, and 2-bedroom apartments that are absolutely beautiful. It’s just a 2-minute walk from the lake, and all apartments come with a kitchenette or kitchen as standard.

Just a 15-minute walk from the town center, you’re far enough away to enjoy the quiet, while also close enough to the action for whenever you’d like to venture into town. Plus, you really can’t beat the price when it comes to the value you get here! Rooms at the Aden Motel start at around $222 NZD and can be booked here on Booking.com.

Fiordland Lakeview Motel and Apartments – $$$

Last, but certainly not least, Fiordland Lakeview Motel and Apartments offers stunning accommodation right on the shores of Lake Te Anau, just a 10-minute walk from the town center. The property also received an extensive renovation in 2019, with their deluxe studio rooms coming equipped with state-of-the-art amenities – think 55-inch TV screens, electric fires, coffee machines – you name it.

Honestly, the only downside to this hotel is that once you arrive, you’ll never want to leave! Rooms here range anywhere from $275 to $600 NZD, although you can find some great deals if you book your room online in advance.

Renting a Car, Campervan, or Motorhome in New Zealand

Bailey stands in front of a right green JUCY campervan
JUCY is one of my favorite campervan rental companies (read below for a discount code!)
Bailey stands behind her Mad Campers campervan cooking in the kitchen at Piha Beach
I also really like Mad Campers!

Let’s face it, you’re going to need wheels to get around New Zealand. Although a small country, buses between destinations are infrequent and expensive. Plus, some of the best experiences you can have in NZ are on road trips!

You have three options when it comes to getting wheels in New Zealand; a car, a campervan, or a motorhome. Here’s what you need to know about each and where to get them:

  • Car – A normal car is the cheapest rental vehicle you can get in New Zealand. It’ll get you around to all of the best destinations with ease. The only downside to a car is that you will need to stay in hotels or Airbnbs during your travels (no camping.) The easiest place to rent a car in New Zealand is on Discover Cars where you can compare cars, companies, prices, features, and more very easily.
  • Campervan – A Campervan is a large van that has a bed and a small kitchen in the back. It’s what most budget travelers use for traveling around New Zealand since it allows you to camp comfortably and for free (most) nights. Campervans are best for couples or solo travelers who are happy to live in a small space. You should also love the outdoors and camping…and be prepared for an adventure of a lifetime! My favorite campervan rental company is JUCY because they have a huge selection of campervans to choose from, plus multiple pick-up/drop-off locations. You can browse JUCY’s campervan selection online here. Alternatively, you can easily compare all campervans available in NZ on Motorhome Republic here.

EXCLUSIVE DISCOUNT CODE: I’ve managed to snag a discount code for 5% off for my readers if you book your JUCY or Star RV campervan or motorhome before the end of June 2024! Simply click here to select your JUCY campervan, or click here to select your Star RV motorhome, and then use the code DTRAVEL24 at checkout to get 5% off – it’s that easy! One thing to note is that this code is only valid for travel before Dec 21, 2024.

Travel Insurance Has Your Back!

Life can be unpredictable and when you’re traveling abroad, the last thing you want to worry about is getting sick or injured and having to pay out of pocket for treatment.

If this concerns you, SafetyWing can help! SafetyWing specializes in very affordable and comprehensive medical and travel insurance that is aimed at digital nomads, remote workers, and long-term travelers. It costs just $45 USD per 4 weeks!

To start coverage, you must purchase it after leaving your home country, so we usually buy it as soon as we land at the airport.

Since using SafetyWing we’ve been reimbursed thousands of dollars when we’ve gotten sick. During the pandemic, they’ve even gone as far as to pay for our last-minute flights back to Canada before the border closed!

Renting a Car, Campervan, or Motorhome in New Zealand

Bailey stands in front of a right green JUCY campervan
JUCY is one of my favorite campervan rental companies (read below for a discount code!)
Bailey stands behind her Mad Campers campervan cooking in the kitchen at Piha Beach
I also really like Mad Campers!

Let’s face it, you’re going to need wheels to get around New Zealand. Although a small country, buses between destinations are infrequent and expensive. Plus, some of the best experiences you can have in NZ are on road trips!

You have three options when it comes to getting wheels in New Zealand; a car, a campervan, or a motorhome. Here’s what you need to know about each and where to get them:

  • Car – A normal car is the cheapest rental vehicle you can get in New Zealand. It’ll get you around to all of the best destinations with ease. The only downside to a car is that you will need to stay in hotels or Airbnbs during your travels (no camping.) The easiest place to rent a car in New Zealand is on Discover Cars where you can compare cars, companies, prices, features, and more very easily.
  • Campervan – A Campervan is a large van that has a bed and a small kitchen in the back. It’s what most budget travelers use for traveling around New Zealand since it allows you to camp comfortably and for free (most) nights. Campervans are best for couples or solo travelers who are happy to live in a small space. You should also love the outdoors and camping…and be prepared for an adventure of a lifetime! My favorite campervan rental company is JUCY because they have a huge selection of campervans to choose from, plus multiple pick-up/drop-off locations. You can browse JUCY’s campervan selection online here. Alternatively, you can easily compare all campervans available in NZ on Motorhome Republic here.

EXCLUSIVE DISCOUNT CODE: I’ve managed to snag a discount code for 5% off for my readers if you book your JUCY or Star RV campervan or motorhome before the end of June 2024! Simply click here to select your JUCY campervan, or click here to select your Star RV motorhome, and then use the code DTRAVEL24 at checkout to get 5% off – it’s that easy! One thing to note is that this code is only valid for travel before Dec 21, 2024.

Travel Insurance Has Your Back!

Life can be unpredictable and when you’re traveling abroad, the last thing you want to worry about is getting sick or injured and having to pay out of pocket for treatment.

If this concerns you, SafetyWing can help! SafetyWing specializes in very affordable and comprehensive medical and travel insurance that is aimed at digital nomads, remote workers, and long-term travelers. It costs just $45 USD per 4 weeks!

To start coverage, you must purchase it after leaving your home country, so we usually buy it as soon as we land at the airport.

Since using SafetyWing we’ve been reimbursed thousands of dollars when we’ve gotten sick. During the pandemic, they’ve even gone as far as to pay for our last-minute flights back to Canada before the border closed!

Thanks for reading!

Bailey from My Queenstown Diary on a bridge near Te Anau
Thanks for reading!

In my opinion, there’s no better place in the world to get outdoors and hike than Milford Sound. Those were 12 of the best hikes in Milford Sound and I hope you’ll enjoy them on your next visit to the area.

Thanks so much for reading! I really hope you enjoyed this guide. If you did then don’t run off just yet! Browse around My Queenstown Diary and let me help plan your trip around New Zealand! I’ve written a ton about the South Island, hiking, and of course, some of my favorite road trips! You can also read from some of my more popular guides below:

55 Awesome Things to do in New Zealand (A Local Guide!)

10 BEST Milford Sound Tours – From an Expert!

How to Pick the BEST Lake Cruise in Queenstown – My Honest Review!

21 Things to do in Mount Cook National Park (that you don’t want to miss!)

Digna

Saturday 9th of September 2023

I love reading your very comprehensive article on NZ hikes. My partner and I are about halfway on our Camino and i am already thinking of our next hiking trip. Since we are Aussies NZ is always close to my list. I will definitely be in touch as soon as we get back to Sydney for our NZ trip to Milford Sound. Thank you Digna