Skip to Content

19 BEST Stops on the Drive from Te Anau to Milford Sound +Road Trip Tips!

19 BEST Stops on the Drive from Te Anau to Milford Sound +Road Trip Tips!

This blog may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy for more info.

Planning to drive from Te Anau to Milford Sound?

Well, first of all, I’m jealous! Milford Sound is my favorite place in the world, so I’ve done this drive more times than I can count… and I still leap at the chance to do it again whenever friends and family come to visit.

There are so many fantastic stops along the way, although I’ll be the first to admit that this makes it hard to choose which ones to explore. 

That’s why in this guide I’m going to share ALL of the best stops and how to visit them. And of course, I’ll include how long each one takes so that you can plan your day accordingly. Buckle up!

About the drive from Te Anau to Milford Sound

The drive from Te Anau to Milford Sound is a 118-kilometer (73-mile) journey that takes around 1.5 hours without stopping. However, I’d say it would take you between 3 and 8 hours if you truly want to explore some of the best attractions on the way.

I’ve found that there are two different types of road trips that most people do when they make this drive.

The first option is to stop at all the viewpoints or “quick stops” on this list. If you choose to do this, you can expect the journey to be around 3 hours, maybe even less depending on how long you stop for. This is a great choice if you’re leaving Te Anau in the morning and have a cruise booked in Milford around lunchtime.

The second option involves stopping at the viewpoints and doing one hike. This adds around 3 hours to the journey, and you have two of the best hikes on the South Island to choose from, each of which take around 3 hours.

If you have one of the later cruises booked, say around 3 pm, then this is a great pick. Although a long day, you can drive back to Te Anau afterward or stay in Milford Sound at the Milford Sound Lodge.

Both road trips give visitors a great taste of this journey, and deciding what you’ll do simply comes down to personal preference and the amount of time you have.

Of course, if you’ve got lots of time on your hands, you can even go for the secret third option, which is to spend the day completing as many stops as you can on this list before spending the night in Milford Sound and embarking on your cruise the following morning.

Another important factor to consider when driving to Milford Sound is the weather. During winter, this trip can take much longer due to poor road conditions. Also, in spring, occasional heavy rainfall slips can happen and close the road completely. It’s important to also have a plan B and have some extra time on your hands when traveling during these seasons.

Don’t feel like driving yourself? Check out these awesome tours from Te Anau to Milford Sound! One of my favorites has to be this full-day, small-group tour to Milford Sound, as I don’t like big bus tours, plus this tour stops at several spots along the way there – result! Not only this, but it also includes cruise tickets, so you really get the complete experience without having to manage any extra bookings.

Related Read: Traveling from Queenstown? Check out our road trip guide from Queenstown to Te Anau. Or what about the drive from Christchurch to Milford Sound?

Te Anau to Milford Sound FAQs

A road traveling to Milford Sound from Te Anau
The views you can expect!

19 Best Stops Between Te Anau and Milford Sound

1. Te Anau

Look at these views!
Selection at Bao Now, Te Anau
There are so many good restaurants in Te Anau!

Before leaving for Milford Sound, be sure to enjoy all of the fun things to do and see in Te Anau, too! I honestly love Te Anau. This cute little town is nestled right on the edge of Lake Te Anau and offers stunning views every which way that you look.

Some of my very favorite activities and attractions in Te Anau are:

  • Visit the Glowworm Caves – This 2-hour guided cave tour allows you to get up close with hundreds of glow-worms. It combines both walking through the narrow cave passages to spot these creatures, as well as a boat cruise through the caves, which are lit only by the light from the glow-worms. A must-do while in Te Anau!
  • Grab a Bite to Eat – One of my favorite things to do here in Te Anau is to explore the incredible restaurants, including the famous Miles Better Pies (killer pies sold here), the Sandfly Café, and so much more. If you’re in doubt, simply walk through the town center and follow your nose! 
  • Go Jet Boating – This 2-hour jet boat tour will have you jetting down Waiau River at speeds of up to 80 kilometers (50 miles) per hour. Your driver will also perform 180-degree high-speed spins and sharp turns before bringing you across stunning Lake Manapouri, where you will hop off for a guided walk. The whole trip will take 3 hours.
  • Hike the Kepler Track – One of the 10 Great Walks in New Zealand is the Kepler Track is a 60-kilometer-long (37 miles), 3 to 4-day loop track that follows along the shoreline of both Lake Te Anau and Lake Manapouri. You may not have the time or interest to do the full-length version, so you can opt for a shortened guided Heli-hike tour because it involves being transported around by helicopter. It is expensive, but oh, how epic!!!

2. Lake Te Anau Viewpoint

Lake Te Anau Viewpoint in Te Anau, New Zealand
The Lake Te Anau Lions Viewpoint in Te Anau, New Zealand

For our first stop on this epic road trip to Milford Sound, it might seem a little strange that we’re heading in the opposite direction, but trust me – it’s worth it!

Just a 5-minute detour from the main road out of Te Anau, you’ll find a beautiful lookout called Lake Te Anau Lions Lookout. On a clear day, this viewpoint offers a great 360-degree vantage point over the town of Te Anau, Lake Te Anau, as well as the Southern Alps.

The viewpoint is located on Ramparts Road and there is a small car park and a grassy area where you can have a picnic. If you can drag yourself out of bed, I’d also recommend getting there for sunrise – the views there at this time are even better, and it’ll give you an amazing start to a day full of exploring!

Many people setting off for Milford Sound completely miss this lookout (I’m sure most don’t even know it’s there!). While it’s just a quick stop, it’s free and is more than worth it for the photos alone. In my opinion, it’s one of the most underrated things to do in Te Anau.

3. Lake Mistletoe Walking Track

Bailey on the Lake Mistletoe Walking Track near Te Anau
I had really bad weather, so expect better views!

Located near Te Anau Downs, around a 20-minute drive north of Te Anau, this easy 45-minute walk leads through native Fiordland forest to the stunning Lake Mistletoe, home to ducks, frogs, and other local lake life. It’s a very easy walk and at just over 1.3 kilometers (0.8 miles) return, making it perfect for the whole family.

What you won’t find on this trail are any epic mountain views, but because of its accessibility and the fact the other hikes on this list are much harder, I included it for those without much hiking experience.

Lake Mistletoe is just a 27-kilometer drive (16.8 miles) from Te Anau right near the Te Anau Downs foreshore.

4. Te Anau Downs

Relaxing at Te Anau Downs!
Just admiring the views on a moody morning!

Te Anau Downs is just 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) from Te Anau and is the starting point of the Milford Track – one of the 10 Great Walks in New Zealand. If you love hiking like I do, then this can easily be the highlight of your trip up to Milford Sound – aside from the final cruise, of course!

The entire hike takes around 4 days, so as you can imagine it’s a pretty big adventure. To begin, you’ll need to get a water taxi from the jetty next to Fiordland National Park Lodge – I recommend booking this one-way taxi service in advance, which offers a comfortable ride to the trailhead.

The Milford Track is incredibly popular and rightly so, as it features glacial valleys, rainforests, and some of the most scenic waterfalls in New Zealand. You can also begin the track starting from the other end when you arrive at Milford Sound – I’d recommend trying out this half-day Milford Track guided hike to compliment your cruise once you’re there!

For those not hiking the Milford Track though, Te Anau Downs still offers a fantastic chance to get out and see Lake Te Anau from a unique angle. You can walk out onto the jetty and capture stunning reflections and views of the mountains. If you’re early enough, this place can also be very quiet, which I love.

Anyway, let’s continue with the drive!

5. Eglinton Valley

Bailey poses with her car in the Eglinton Valley on the way to Milford Sound
This used to be a glacier!

The Eglinton Valley is the first area on our list that’s in the gorgeous Fiordland National Park. Once you start to notice the scenery change to steep rocky mountains and enter a valley covered in golden yellow tussock grass, you know you’re in the right place.

This valley was actually carved by glaciers just like Milford Sound and every time I visit I can’t help thinking just how much ice must have occupied this region at one point in time – crazy!

It’s one of the few valleys you can drive through in Fiordland National Park, and if you keep your eyes peeled, you may even spot a short-tailed bat here – a weird and wonderful creature that crawls along the forest floor in search of food.

There are also a few places in the Eglinton Valley that were filming locations in the Lord of the Rings movies. Namely the Eglinton Mountains, also known as the Misty Mountains in the Fellowship of the Ring.

Fancy a hike while you’re in the area? Why not test out the East Eglinton Track? Be warned though, this 2-hour one-way track is challenging and only recommended for experienced hikers. A high fitness level plus experience in the backcountry is required and you’ll also need to cross a river on this track.

6. Mirror Lakes

Mirror Lakes on the road to Milford Sound
The stunning reflections of Mirror Lakes!

Mirror Lakes is easily one of my favorite stops between Te Anau and Milford Sound. Located in the Eglinton Valley, as you drive you’ll spot a pullover bay on the side of the road where you can park up. From here, it’s a simple 400-meter (1,312 feet) return track that leads you to the dreamlike Mirror Lakes.

On a clear day, you will get to enjoy out-of-this-world reflections of the Earl Mountains on the still lake – a seriously amazing photo opportunity that’s completely free!

Seeing as the walk is so flat and quick it’s a perfect walk for the whole family. The pull-off is well signposted on Milford Road and it’s about 56 kilometers (34.8 miles) north of Te Anau.

7. Lake Gunn

Reflections at Lake Gunn, New Zealand
Reflections at Lake Gunn, New Zealand

One of the best short walks on the drive from Queenstown to Milford Sound is a stroll along the Lake Gunn Nature Walk. For such a short (45 minutes total) walk, this to me is what exploring the wilderness of Fiordland National Park is all about! Keep your eyes peeled for all kinds of rare birds, including the critically endangered takahē and the cute but cheeky keas.

At 480 meters (1574 feet) above sea level, Lake Gunn is nothing short of stunning. The surrounding mountains seemingly disappear into the flat surface of the lake. If you’ve got a sharp eye, you might even spot paradise ducks here too!

This track is right next to the popular Cascade Creek Campsite, meaning it can get quite busy in the morning before campers depart for Milford Sound. However, early in the morning, the calm winds keep the lake water still, letting the mountains reflect off the surface of the lake uninterrupted. It’s one of my favorite sights on this road trip!

If you’re interested in giving camping a go, the Cascade Creek campsite is a great choice. As it does get pretty popular, they do require bookings here, and it costs $15 NZD per adult per night, and $7.50 NZD for kids (5-17). You can learn more and book your site over on the DOC website.

banner asking people to click to join the Queenstown Diary Facebook Group

8. Key Summit Track

A tarn on the Key Summit reflects the surrounding mountains
The small tarn on the Key Summit creates amazing mirror-like reflections!

Up next, I’ve got a scenic hike for you!

The Key Summit Track is located at the southern end of the very famous Routeburn Track. Combining rainforest with panoramic mountain scenery, it’s a firm favorite with tourists to Milford Sound.

The track gains a slow and steady elevation of 400 meters (1,312 feet), but you’ll be rewarded with stunning views when you emerge from the forest after the climb. There’s even a small tarn (pictured above) near the top which gives off beautiful reflections.

I’d allow a minimum of 2.5 hours walking time for this track from the Routeburn Track parking area. There are also public toilets available here if you just fancy stopping off for a quick toilet break!

If you’re planning on heading back to Te Anau after Milford Sound and don’t have time to hike the Key Summit Track this time, then I’d recommend this guided Key Summit tour from Te Anau. Instead of rushing to hike this on your road trip to Milford, you could spend more time on a separate day to enjoy this tour. Plus it’s also a small-group tour which I love!

9. Pops View Lookout/Hollyford Lookout

Pop's View on Milford Road

For those who don’t plan on hiking in Fiordland National Park, there aren’t many chances to star down into deep valleys. For that reason, a stop at Pops View Lookout is a must!

This scenic viewpoint offers amazing views of the Hollyford Valley and the best part is you don’t have to hike at all. Simply, pull over in the parking lot and enjoy the stunning views – it’s that easy.

The parking lot is located on a sharp bend, so be very careful crossing traffic to get in there. Oh, and there’s often a cheeky kea in the parking lot who may try to steal your keys, so keep them close!

Did you know – Fiordland has more earthquakes than anywhere else in New Zealand? That’s because it sits on not one, not two, but three fault lines.

10. Lake Marian Track

Lake Marian road to Milford Sound
Lake Marian!

The Lake Marian Track is my favorite hike on the road to Milford – there, I said it! There are two walking tracks you can take here depending on how much time you have. It’s just a 20-minute walk to the waterfalls and a 3-hour return hike to Lake Marian.

From the parking lot, you’ll walk across a swing bridge before coming to the stunning series of waterfalls – even more majestic after some rainfall. If you’re short on time, you can stop here and then turn around, however, if you want to see a stunning alpine lake (which I highly recommend!), then continue on.

After the falls, you’ll continue uphill for about 1.5 hours to Lake Marian. This track can get pretty muddy and isn’t that well maintained, so my tip would be to wear appropriate footwear.

As for the lake itself, Lake Marian is situated in a hanging valley that was formed by glacial action. Like the Mirror Lakes, it has stunning reflections of the surrounding mountains on a clear day. I actually went for a swim here, but it was freezing. My first polar dip in NZ, actually!

To get to the start of the trail, you can drive to the car park here via Hollyford Road, which is just off the main Milford Road.

11. Monkey Creek

Monkey Creek near Milford Sound
The freshest water in NZ!

Within the Hollyford Valley and a little further down Milford Road from the Lake Marian Track parking lot, you’ll find a very popular place to stop and fill your water bottle. Monkey Creek is a glacier-fed spring and the water here is so pure you can drink it straight from the source! It’s probably the nicest, most refreshing cup of water you’ll ever have.

Despite its name, there are definitely no monkeys here. In fact, this creek got its name from a European settler who lived in the area in the 1800s, his dog’s name was – you guessed it – Monkey! The rare whio (blue ducks) live in the creek and the parking lot is a good place to see another cheeky kea.

12. Gertrude Valley Lookout

Gertrude Saddle Route views
The stunning Gertrude Saddle Route view!

Just before the Homer Tunnel, you will be greeted by the Gertrude Valley Lookout Point. From here, you can easily spot the snow-covered peaks of the Darran Mountains, including Marian Peak. If you’re blessed with good weather, this can be one of the most scenic spots on the entire road trip!

If you’ve got some time on your hands, and fancy a bit of an adventure, you can walk from the viewpoint to the Gertrude Saddle via the Gertrude Saddle Route. This grueling hike takes around 6 hours but is only 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) in length.

Of course, the toughest hikes should offer the best rewards, and this route offers stunning views as one of the best hikes in Milford Sound. With that said, due to the rocky terrain on the hike, I recommend only attempting this in good weather or if you’re an experienced hiker. Please don’t take young kids on this trail and never hike it in the rain.

13. Homer Tunnel

A motorhome waits at the Homer Tunnel
Waiting to pass through the Homer Tunnel! Check out those mountain views!

Possibly one of the most famous sites on the road from Queenstown to Milford Sound, the Homer Tunnel was completed back in 1953. Construction of the tunnel took almost 20 years due to the dangerous nature of its location, and 3 workers sadly lost their lives during the construction of the tunnel.

The road through the Homer Tunnel is sealed but very narrow. During the summer months, when there is no avalanche risk, traffic lights operate so you won’t need to pass oncoming traffic inside the tunnel. The tunnel itself is 1.2 km (0.75 mi) long. In the winter, this area is prone to avalanches, and stopping is not allowed.

Coming up to the tunnel is quite eerie, especially on a rainy day when the valley surrounding it has lots of little veins of waterfalls running down. Definitely a moody atmosphere! If you get a red light, you can wait up to 20 minutes.

So feel free to get out and walk around for a little bit, the views are amazing. Of course, there’s also a friendly kea who hangs around the tunnel just waiting to steal your keys!

14. Hundred Falls

Part of Thousand Falls on the way to Milford Sound
Check out Hundred Falls on the way to Milford Sound!

Wondering where Hundred Falls gets its name from? Well, just after you pass through Homer Tunnel, make sure to look to your left – if it’s been raining you’ll see hundreds of waterfalls gushing down the side of a high rock face!

Luckily, Milford Sound is in the wettest region in New Zealand, so chances are you will see something.

There’s also a small viewing area here where you can stop and grab some photos. It is only a quick stop though, around 5 minutes I’d say.

15. The Chasm

The Chasm
The rock formations are beautiful!

The Chasm is a roaring waterfall that drops into a vast abyss and over the years has carved its way through the rock to form a pretty unique attraction! The huge amount of water that falls here gives you an idea of just how much rainfall this area gets.

To get to the falls, you can follow a short trail for about 20 minutes until you are greeted by the mighty Chasm waterfall. The two footbridges over the Cleddau River give you the best viewing points for the waterfall – in fact, the photo above is taken from one of them!

Once again, this is a quick stop but shouldn’t be missed on your way to Milford Sound.

16. Milford Sound Lodge

A room at the Milford Sound Lodge
The Milford Sound Lodge is the closest you can get!

Just before you arrive in Milford Sound, you will pass by the gorgeous Milford Sound Lodge. This is actually the only hotel in Milford Sound, and I personally think that spending a night here is totally worth it (if you can get a booking, that is.)

That’s right, the Milford Sound Lodge is so popular that it is often fully booked months in advance. Why? Well, because if you stay here, then you don’t have to drive all the way back to Te Anay after enjoying Milford Sound. When I stayed here last, I actually enjoyed the sunset in Milford before returning to the Lodge for a nice night of rest. I also got up early to see the sunrise!

You can check availability and book the Milford Sound Lodge online here.

If you left it too late and didn’t get a booking, that’s okay too. This is still a noteworthy stop, on the drive from Te Anau to Milford because of the onsite restaurant and cafe. Food options at the Milford Sound Visitor Center are extremely limited, so if you are hungry, stop in here.

The name of the restaurant at the Milford Sound Lodge is Pio Pio Restaurant. If you want to sit down and have lunch or dinner, you should call and book a table in advance to avoid disappointment.

17. Deepwater Basin (FREE Parking Area!)

parking meter to pay fro parking milford sound (1)
If you don’t want to pay for parking, stop at Deepwater Basin and walk from there!
paid parking sign at Milford Sound
Paid parking is at the closes parking lot.

This stop is not so much an attraction but more of a practical stop that you should know about if you’re driving to Milford Sound.

When it comes to parking near Milford Sound, you have two options. The first is the Milford Sound Public Carpark which is located a 10-minute walk from the Visitor Center and jetty where all of the cruises depart from. This is paid parking, and it will cost you $10 NZD per hour, $25 NZD for 5 hours, and $50 NZD overnight.

If you’re not keen on paying those prices (I don’t blame you, $10/hr is pretty steep if you ask me!) then you can instead stop here and park for free at the Deepwater Basin parking lot.

From here, you can easily walk to the Visitor Center in about 30 minutes. On the way, you can also stop at the Milford Sound Swing (next on this list) if you want.

18. The Milford Sound Swing

Bailey on the Milford Sound swing in New Zealand
The famous Milford Sound swing!

Last up before we reach our final destination, we have the iconic Milford Sound Swing! Although this attraction is technically in Milford Sound, I simply didn’t want you to miss it. The swing (which can be a little tricky to find) was built by a local worker who wanted to impress his girlfriend – I’m sure she was!

Nowadays, the Milford Sound Swing is extremely popular among tourists who head to the swing to capture an amazing photo together. If you’re planning on staying the night in Milford Sound, I’d suggest getting here early to skip the queue!

If you want to find the swing, check out this guide to finding it – it can be a little tricky to spot!

19. Milford Sound

Scenic flight into Milford Sound, New Zealand
What a view!
A boat travels right up to Stirling Falls in Milford Sound
Oh the waterfalls!

Just like that, we’ve turned a relatively short journey into a trip full of awesome viewpoints, trails, and more! Of course, the star of the show is Milford Sound, and no trip here would be complete without going on a scenic cruise – more on this below.

Of course, there are tons of other things to do in Milford Sound, with one of my favorite free activities being stargazing. There’s barely any light pollution here, which means the stars really pop come nighttime. And speaking of nighttime, you can expect it to get dark as early as 5:30 pm in the winter months, although it is quite a bit later in the summer.

There are also lots of epic scenic flights that you can try in Milford Sound, and if you thought the views were epic from the ground, just wait until you see them from the air. This 25-minute scenic helicopter flight is a great choice if you’re a little shorter on time but still want an unforgettable experience, and the camera shots you’ll get will be nothing short of legendary.

No matter how you choose to spend your time here, I’m sure this will be a road trip you’ll remember – I find myself coming back to Milford Sound pretty often, and every time I do, I fall in love with it all over again.

Booking your Milford Sound Cruise

Bailey looks out from the deck of a cruise in Milford Sound and enjoys the view
I mean, it’s pretty damn beautiful!

If you’ve decided to follow this blog and drive yourself to Milford Sound, then you’ve made the right choice, however, it means you need to book your cruise before you go!

This is where it gets tricky, and booking the right cruise departure time is important.

For those planning on doing your Milford Sound cruise the same day that you leave Te Anau, then you’ll need to pick a late afternoon cruise so you have time to enjoy the drive. Remember, if you do this, you will have to drive back to Te Anau afterward unless you decide to stay in Milford Sound (the Milford Sound Lodge is your only option unless you camp).

I recommend booking this small-group tour with Cruise Milford at 2:45 pm. It’s a great cruise on a small vessel, which means you can get as close as possible to the action. If you need more time, there is this 3:15 pm scenic cruise, but it is on a larger vessel.

Those are the two latest cruises without doing an overnight cruise, which leaves at 4:30 pm. This is ideal if you plan to enjoy the road trip at a bit of a slower pace and then head back to Te Anau afterward. I don’t think you can wake up to better views than this!

If you plan on staying at the Milford Sound Lodge, then you should instead spend the entire day on the road, enjoy the sunset at the Milford Sound foreshore, and then do your cruise first thing the next morning. The best part about this is that Milford Sound is quiet before lunchtime when the tour buses arrive.

For this option, I recommend booking this nature cruise that leaves at 10 am. That way, you can wake up, have breakfast, and do one of the first cruises in the morning. It’s also the best time to visit Milford Sound to see wildlife.

Prepare for Milford Sound: Check out all the best things to do in Milford Sound before you go!

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 campervan or motorhome through JUCY or Star RV! 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!

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

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

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

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.

Thanks for reading!

Bailey smiles at the camera on the back of a Milford Sound cruise
Thanks for reading!

On the drive from Te Anau to Milford Sound, there truly is no shortage of amazing stops. It’s one of the best ways to get to Milford Sound, no doubt! Those were 19 of the most scenic stops, and I’m sure you’ll agree there’s something for everyone on this trip.

Thanks so much for reading! I hope you found this guide helpful in planning your upcoming adventure. if you did then be sure to browse around more. I have so many other great guides including the best things to do in Queenstown, the best places to visit on the South Island, and more! Here are a few to get you started:

18 Best CHEAP Things to do in Queenstown

14 Things to KNOW Before Booking an Overnight Cruise in Milford Sound

50 BEST Hikes in New Zealand + My Personal Favorites


Thursday 26th of January 2023

Where was the first photo taken? the one on the road? beautiful photo!! :)


Saturday 28th of January 2023

@Bailey, thanks heaps! Your blog posts have been an incredible help for planning our trip for next month, thankyou heaps!!!! :)


Thursday 26th of January 2023

Hey Hannah,

The photo is taken after the Eglinton Valley. once you reach the valley, just keep an eye out as you drive toward Milford. Be sure to only pull over when safe and please be careful.

Thanks Bailey

R Agarwal

Friday 8th of July 2022

great article. Just wondering if it is feasible to travel from Te Anau early morning for a 10:30 cruise and stop by at various locations on the return journey?


Saturday 16th of July 2022


Yes, that's totally fine! I often stop at a few places on the way there and leave at around 7 am.

Hope this helps Bailey