People talk about the Milford Road and how truly beautiful it is, but you really have to see it to appreciate its 120km of true charm. Whichever season you’re visiting this slice of paradise there’s a visual treat around every corner.
Let’s talk about driving the Milford Rd in Winter (May to September) when there’s black ice in abundance, a few frosty bridges and dazzling snow-capped mountains towering over you as you weave your way up to the divide, through the Homer tunnel and down into Milford Sound.
My number one tip is - Take a coach. I know what you are thinking- it’s a totally bias opinion. But let me explain why!
Let a local, knowledgeable driver take the stress away. Sit back and enjoy the stunning vistas without worrying whether you’re going to have pull over and put those snow chains on or those corners that haven’t quite seen the sun yet and may have black ice. Our drivers take this route every day, 365 days a year. They know where to take it slow, they’ve put chains on plenty of times and can do it lightening fast! I think I’d rather watch from the warmth of my seat as the heater beats down warm air than lying in the wet snow and dirt!
As you could imagine, Milford Road supplies plenty of spectacular views into the depths of Fiordland National park which you don’t want to miss. If you’ve drawn the short straw and taken the driver’s seat, unfortunately, you end up missing some of magnificent sights. The concentration needed to get from Te Anau to Milford sound during winter on this windy, sometimes treacherous road will have you keeping those eyes glued to the asphalt. VIP Milford’s coaches allow an almost 360degree view from its comfortable leather seats and you can relax knowing your driver has everything under control.
The New Zealand transport agency is very good at updating the road conditions online which can change in a second. When travelling over the divide you will be reaching heights of around 918 metres above sea level which of course can accumulate a fair bit of snow. To many, reaching the snow will be quite an exciting experience but the road can be closed if it becomes to dangerous to travel on. It’s always a good idea to check the report before heading off.
Leave the hassle to VIP Milford. If it’s touch and go they’ll know whether to take the plunge and head out for a possible late opening or call it quits and try again the following day. You’ll have the option of a full refund if you need to move on or hang around for another day and you will be transferred free of charge.
One question we get asked a lot… Shall I cancel my booking if it is raining? The answer is no! Milford Sound is the wettest inhabited place in New Zealand raining approximately 182 days a year so you may find it tricky finding that sunny blue bird day but don’t let that get you down. There is one big rushing waterfall where only moments before there was dry towering granite cliffs. The moody grey skies create a scene right out of The Lord of the Rings. Combine this with the mist that hangs over the summits that have you feeling like you’ve stepped into a prehistoric time and you really will have your breath taken away.
So, there you have it. Don’t let the cold winter months steer you away from Milford Sound. It’s a truly magical experience and a once in a lifetime trip! Take a coach for a stress-free visit to this amazing place we are lucky enough to have in our back yard.
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