VIP Milford
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Meet Justin- Our Head Bus Driver

Justin Head Bus Driver

Let me take you back to late 2015/early 2016… We had a brilliant idea to start up a new Milford Sound Coach and Cruise tour. Not because there was a lack of tours available but because we knew we could offer something exceptional, memorable. To begin such an endeavor took a lot of hard work with an emphasis on doing and having the best. From coach to cruise and everything in between we wanted our customers to walk away having experienced a once in a lifetime tour.

As you can imagine, having a driver/tour guide that has a passion for the area, driving experience, and a personality that fits VIP Milford values was crucial. Que, Justin Remnant. A keen (then) 30-year-old with a wicked sense of humor and 3 years already under his belt driving the Milford Road. VIP Milford’s first driver/tour guide was hired and by April 2016 VIP Milford excursions were ready to commence. I sat down with Justin one cloudy October day on his return from Milford and fired a few questions at him so you can get to know one of our excellent drivers a little bit better.

Justin Head Bus Milford

How long have you been driving tour buses to Milford and how long have you been driving for VIP Milford?

I started in 2013 with Real Journeys driving from Te Anau and sometimes Queenstown into Milford and been with VIP since day one 1 April 2016.


What is your favorite part of the job?

I am lucky that I get to go to Milford Sound each day and see it in all its different moods and colors. I also enjoy with our timetable having the time to engage with the people we take in, there has been some very interesting people we have taken to Milford.

How many times have you been to Milford Sound?

811 and counting

What are your favorite stops along Milford Road?

In the Winter and Spring months I really enjoy stopping at the Gertrude Valley where sometimes we can watch a number of small snow avalanches coming down off the mountains. Any of the alpine stops around the tunnel are magic on a rainy day with all the waterfalls coming down.

How many times has a Kea stolen your lunch?

I haven’t had my lunch stolen but they are very cheeky and playful birds. I’ve seen them taking aerials off cars and trying to pull rubber seals out from around windows and doors on vehicles.

Playful birds Milford Road

In your opinion, when is the best time of the year to do a tour in Milford Sound?

I like the winters. Yes, it’s cold but with the snow on the mountains, nice calm clear days, and with less people visiting you get a big boat almost to yourself.

How long does it take you to wash the van (inside and out) after a tour?

45 min to an hour depending on how many sandflies have been squashed on the windows.

How did you come up with your insightful commentary blurb and how long did it take you to know it all off by heart?

I guess you learn a lot from going with other drivers when you are learning to drive the Milford Road. Growing up in the area helps and then there are some good books written by people that were working on building the road. Learning the commentary is interesting as you can’t really have que cards in front of you to read as you are too busy concentrating on the road, after a few times the information sticks in your head.

Do you consider your job dangerous?

Wouldn’t say dangerous, but you definitely have to stay alert when driving in and out of Milford in the changing road conditions and also to the interesting driving that we see from other road users. It is all about driving defensively to give our guests a safe and enjoyable Milford experience.

What do you do while your passengers are enjoying their cruise?

It’s really a couple hours of down time, go for a walk, have a coffee and a bit of bus talk with other drivers and a chance to do some little cleaning jobs in the van

If you were to describe Milford Sound in one sentence, what would it be?

A magic place regardless of the weather that is a must see for everyone.

Do you get tired of driving to Milford every day?

No, I think if you get sick of it then it is time to go find somewhere else to work. Each day is different from the weather to the people and conversations you have. Each day is really so different that you can’t get sick of it.

Justin in Fiordlands paradise

If you could have one superpower what would it be?

To be able to predict weather, what time the dolphins will be there and road closures.

How long have you lived in Te Anau?

My family moved to Te Anau in 1999

Do you make your lunch, does your wife make your lunch or do you indulge in the Scenic cruise buffet?

My wife is still in training so I might have to scrape something together out of the fridge, we can get a picnic lunch when in Milford or sometimes I will treat myself to a buffet off the scenic cruise with a couple of ice creams.

Who is your favorite VIP Milford receptionist?

All the team are great to work with, I don’t have favorites, but I am sure that I am their favorite.

It’s true, the whole VIP Milford crew from the team behind the phones to the drivers, are an awesome bunch! We have a passion for what we do, and we love to set people up on this magical trip into a slice of Fiordlands paradise.

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