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Where to base for Milford Sound area

Reston, Virginia
Level Contributor
473 posts
121 reviews
47 helpful votes
Where to base for Milford Sound area

Hello.

We are planning our South Island trip now for February 2025 and wondering where to base ourselves for non hikers to visit the area? Stay in Queenstown and do Milford Sound on a day trip, drive ourselves in and stay in Fiorldland NP area? How to see Doubtful Sound?

Thank you for any first time visitor tips/suggestions.

8 replies to this topic
Preston, United...
Level Contributor
13,853 posts
9 reviews
14 helpful votes
1. Re: Where to base for Milford Sound area

You can either stay in Queenstown and do a day trip by coach, air or a combination or travel to Te Anau for 2 nights and drive yourselves to Milford Sound on the day in between. It's too far to self drive from Queenstown. Should you be in a camper van there are other places to stay overnight on the Milford Road. I would not recommend staying the night actually at Milford Sound unless you are particularly fond of sandflies.

You can access Doubtful Sound on a day trip, which can be done by coach from Queenstown or by getting yourselves to Manapouri. But I would not advise it. To get to Doubtful Sound you must take a boat across Lake Manapouri and then a bus over Wilmot Pass and then the reverse on the way back. So for a day trip you spend more time getting there and back than you do actually on the Sound.

it's much better if you can afford it to do an overnight cruise on Doubtful. The Sound is huge, much bigger than Milford Sound and with an overnight cruise you get to properly explore the wilderness. It's quite magical, one of the best trips you can do in the whole country, but it isn't cheap.

New Zealand
Level Contributor
4,087 posts
6 reviews
2 helpful votes
2. Re: Where to base for Milford Sound area

If you have the time, it is best to base yourself inTe Anau which is the base for Fiordland. It is only a 2 hour drive from there to Milford Sound. You can also visit Doubtful Sound by driving to nearby Manapouri and taking the boat across the lake and then be taken by bus across the range to another boat in Doubtful Sound. That is why many recommend doing Doubtful as an overnight but I have only done it by day and enjoyed it .

.

From Te Anau you can also take a boat across to the glow worm caves. and visit the bird sanctuary.

Reston, Virginia
Level Contributor
473 posts
121 reviews
47 helpful votes
3. Re: Where to base for Milford Sound area

WOW- GREAT information. I cannot thank you enough.

Arrowtown, New...
Level Contributor
8,142 posts
68 reviews
65 helpful votes
4. Re: Where to base for Milford Sound area

As above...

Please do not self-drive for a 1 day visit from Queenstown.

From Queenstown coach-cruise-fly is the ultimate choice.

Time permitting, stay 2-3 nights in Te Anau. Just over a 2 hour drive from Queenstown. Then coach or self drive to Piopiotahi/ Milford Sound for the day.

BEFORE you start booking hour trip to MZ, please do post your itinerary here on TA, and there are lots of regular volunteets that will help ensure you've got everything in the right place, and the appropriate amount of time, and help fine tine/ finesse

New Zealand
Destination Expert
for South Island, Nelson-Tasman Region, New Zealand, Tonga
Level Contributor
24,262 posts
740 reviews
511 helpful votes
5. Re: Where to base for Milford Sound area

its too far to do a self drive trip from queenstown to milford sound. Te anau is the closest town to milford sound (a 2 hour drive away). you can stay overnight on the milford sound wanderer (it sets off later in the afternoon, overnights in the sounds and back in the morning) so is a good option for travellers. or you can stay at milford sound lodge at Milford sound. milford sound is small and there isnt a lot to do except the water based activities.

Reston, Virginia
Level Contributor
473 posts
121 reviews
47 helpful votes
6. Re: Where to base for Milford Sound area

Will do. Thank you so much for the advice.

Reston, Virginia
Level Contributor
473 posts
121 reviews
47 helpful votes
7. Re: Where to base for Milford Sound area

Is there only one cruise company that operates overnight Doubtful Sound Cruises?

New Zealand
Level Contributor
4,087 posts
6 reviews
2 helpful votes
8. Re: Where to base for Milford Sound area

https://www.tripadvisor.co.nz/ShowTopic-g255124-i3844-k14661067-Doubtful_Sound_Overnight_Cruise_Options_April_24-Te_Anau_Fiordland_National_Park_Southland.html

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