On the Road Again: The Road to Milford Sound

Incase you missed my last post we’re talking all about my South Island road trip! Day one saw us tackle Oamaru, Dunedin and the Catlins Coast. Day two is a biggie so brace yourself for almost 400km of driving, including the mind boggling road to Milford Sound.

McLean Falls


McLean Falls Catlin Coast

Day two on the road was a drier and brighter one. We woke up at sunrise (#vanlifeproblems) and made the most of our camp spot by wandering down the beach. Not a bad way to start the day. Unfortunately we didn’t get to check out Cathedral Caves, check tide times when planning your trip because the day we were nearby was the only day of the week that low tide fell outside of daylight hours and so the access road was closed.
Luckily just across the road is the McLean Falls track. The track is pretty quick and easy, about 30 minutes return. Considering the ease of access I was pleasantly surprised by McLean Falls – check out the photos. For a brief stroll you get rewarded with lush forest, multiple drops and a powerful spray from the main falls. Well worth a visit.

McLean Falls Track
By this point it was still only 7:45am, that’s doing life right. Getting up early and getting out in nature. Feeling clear headed we hit the road towards Invercargill with a brief stop in Curio Bay for the Petrified Forest – a bit out of the way but a unique site to say the least. From what we had heard Invercargill didn’t have too much going for it, so on a tight time scale we made a very brief pit stop and moved on. I was super happy, however, to pick up my favourite on the road snack. Peanut butter stuffed pretzels. Thank you Alison’s Pantry.

Petrified Forest at Curio Bay

Te Anau

After a few more hours on the road we made it to Te Anau. The beautiful town set on Lake Te Anau is the gateway to Fiordland National Park. With heaps of great hiking just a stones throw away. The town itself is stunning. We spent an hour or so wandering through town, walking along the lake and eyeing up Miles Better Pies – droolworthy.

For lunch we stuck to our budget and grabbed some goodies from the supermarket then drove about 30mins down the road to find a lakeside picnic spot. Check out this view.

Lake Te AnauLake Te Anau Fiordland National Park

When we were sick of eating, taking photos and soaking up those views (really you could stare at that all day) we got back on the road to Milford Sound.

The Road to Milford Sound

On the road to Milford sound

Not a confident drive? Get a friend to drive because the road to Milford Sound goes from charming, winding, tree lined road to sweet Jesus there’s snow and sheer drops and omg that view. An incredible drive. Stop as often as you can as there is plenty to see along the way. The Chasm is a cool track, just 20 minutes return to see a series of waterfalls and the shapes they’ve carved out of the surrounding rocks. Difficult (for me) to capture the rock formations on camera but trust me it’s pretty.

The Chasm, Milford Road

Then there’s Homer Tunnel, the road to Milford Sound literally takes you through the mountains. It’s as scary as it sounds. 1.2km driving through this dimly lit tunnel through the centre of a snow covered mountain. On either side of the tunnel there are avalanche warning signs too. Hello claustrophobia. I definitely didn’t spend the whole 1.2km contemplating escape routes incase there was an avalanche… However when (or if) you survive the creepy tunnel drive you’re rewarded on the other side with insanely cool scenery. The road twists and bends as you descend into Milford. With snow covered mountains behind you and waterfalls tumbling down the mountains ahead from snow melt.

Needless to say we arrived in Milford safe and sound (punny ha). We checked in for the night at Milford Sound Lodge and even treated ourselves to dinner in their restaurant. Thai green curry yum. After the longest day we headed to bed super early ready for a day of fun on the Sound.

What a cracker of a day that was! A crazy amount of kilometres racked up in our poor van thanks to the long road to Milford Sound. Was it worth the drive? Day three will be coming shortly…

Abbie @ AbbieMayTravel