A special day on vacation in New Zealand with
on Travel New Zealand Itinerary.
23rd to 25th January. – Queenstown to Te Anau.
The following is an itinerary for an independent day trip from Queenstown to Milford Sound and is typical of the detailed itinerary information you will receive as part of the comprehensive documentation for your New Zealand itinerary from DesigNZ on Travel.
Early settlers and visitors to Queenstown came for the Otago
gold rush of the 1860’s and the establishment of farming stations,
but today it is the breathtaking beauty of the Queenstown landscape
and its recreational facilities that draw people here.
Year round cruises operate on Lake Wakatipu to picturesque Walter Peak Station including evening trips that include a buffet dinner at the farm, travelling aboard the historic steamer TSS Earnslaw. The Dart River runs into the lake at Glenorchy and is the venue for half day jet boat tours or Funyaks with Dart River Safaris into the Mount Aspiring National Park, or a full day trip that includes returning down river on inflatable kayaks. White water rafting on the Shotover River and Kawarau River, the Shotover River also has jet boating and in the upper reaches great white water rafting for families. Try the world famous bungy jump from the historic Kawarau Bridge.
Day trips to Fiordland National Park to visit Milford Sound or Doubtful Sound operate from Queenstown by coach. To enjoy the full Milford Sound experience including a cruise, but in a shorter time, consider one or both directions by plane with fantastic aerial views of the National Park. Overnight trips to Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound can also be taken from your Queenstown base.
From Queenstown you can connect to multi day hiking on the Hollyford Track, plus there are lots of shorter walks including a one day experience on the Routeburn Track and Milford Track.
The Otago and Southern Lakes region takes top place for the most picturesque vineyards in New Zealand with Gibbston Valley and Chard Farm located in the spectacularly rugged Kawarau Gorge, other vineyards that may be visited include Peregrine, Waitiri Creek Vineyards, Chard Farm Vineyard, Amisfield Cellars, Mt Difficulty, Felton Road, Carrick, Akarua and Olssens vineyards. Whatever your taste in wine, there is sure to be something to delight your taste buds, and of course deliciously fresh food and produce to accompany. To make the most of your wine experience join an escorted wine tour.
Close to Queenstown is the village of Arrowtown, known for its historic cottages and museum where you can learn about the hardships of life amongst the goldfields. The village also boasts some great restaurants which, when added to those in Queenstown and the nearby countryside, will leave you spoilt for choice.
Golf Courses that boast fantastic scenery are located at; the venue for the Centennial New Zealand Golf Open “The Hills” and at Millbrook Country Club.
The Otago Region is a popular fly fishing destination and local guides can take you to the ‘special places’ hidden amongst the rugged landscape.
In winter Queenstown is a magnet for skiers who delight in the diverse selection of trails offered by the Remarkables Range and Coronet ski fields. Coronet Peak also has a program of night skiing. For wonderful views of the mountains and lake don’t forget a ride on the Queenstown Gondola.
- Highway 6, the southern route out of Queenstown follows the shore of Lake Wakatipu
- As you leave the Lake, note the Kingston turnoff, steam train rides in summer
- Past Mossburn, pass through an area known as The Gorge, (Gorge Creek)
- Cross barren tussock land known as The Wilderness.
- Views of Lake Te Anau
- Note the turnoff to Manapouri
Driving notes: Take a shortcut at Five Rivers (95km ex Queenstown, 11km out of Lumsden) to Mossburn, join Highway 94. Going through Lumsden adds 10km to the trip.
Dramatic, rugged and remote the Fiordland Region contains the
Fiordland National Park that covers more than 1.25 million hectares.
Access is by just a few roads and walking tracks – not surprising
that the Takahe, one of New Zealand’s intriguing flightless birds,
remained hidden here and thought to be extinct for more that 50
years, before being re-discovered in 1948. Some captive Takahe (part
of the species management program) can be seen at the wildlife enclosure
on the shores of Lake Te Anau.
Highlights for visitors to Fiordland include Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound that can be visited as day trips, or you can overnight on a Real Journeys Milford Sound Overnight Cruise or Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise. Enjoy spectacular scenery and wildlife spotting (watch for Fiordland Crested Penguins, Bottle Nosed Dolphins, New Zealand Fur seals, Blue Penguins & Dusky Dolphins). For day trippers you can travel to Milford and experience a day time scenic or Nature Cruise, or take the full day excursion for a Doubtful Sound Day Trip. Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound each have their own special features and the make-up of their trips is quite different. Milford sound being a 118km road journey through spectacular countryside to the start of the sound, with its dramatic peaks. The trip to Doubtful sound involves a short trip (21km), boat trip across Lake Manapouri, a coach trip underground into the power station (whenever possible), and then over the Wilmot Pass, followed by the boat trip on Doubtful sound.
When travelling to Milford Sound take time to experience some of the many short walks and photo stops along the way and to appreciate the fantastic feat of engineering that the road itself represents.
For a more active expedition in this stunning region the Hollyford Track is highly recommended
The main accommodation base for trips to Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound is Te Anau, located 21kms from Manapouri, the departure point for Doubtful Sound, and 120kms from Milford Sound. At Te Anau you will find the departure point for trips into the Te Anau Glow Worm Caves that are accessed via a boat trip across Lake Te Anau.
The Te Anau Wildlife Centre, which focuses on native birds, including the rare Takahe, is situated on the Te Anau to Manapouri road.
Activities Te Anau
- Te Anau Glow Worm Caves. By boat across Lake Te Anau to Cavern House to view information displays then journey underground by path and small punt to view rock formations and the glow worm grotto
- Trips and Tramps, Offer a great selection of trips in small groups up to 12 persons with a local knowledgeable guide, this family owned business has been operating from Te Anau for many years so they know the secrets.
- Local walking tracks, there are numerous easy and harder walks in this region that we will provide you with details for.
- Helicopter Trips, Jet Boating, Guided Fishing, Kayaking are some of the other activities on offer here.
Te Anau to Milford Sound 118 kms allow 2 - 2˝ hours (plus stops)
- Five-Mile Lookout over South Fiord
- Henry Creek Lookout over Middle Fiord
- Te Anau Downs, 45min return forest walk to Lake Mistletoe.
- Mirror Lakes, reflections of Earl Mountains, beech forest & wetlands (5 mins)
- Knobs Flat interpretational display, geology and wildlife.
- Lake Gunn Nature Walk easy access 45 min. loop track
- Pops View, lookout point.
- Homer Tunnel 1200m rock hewn tunnel, car park and nature walk, (15mins)
- The Chasm waterfall walk, waterfalls and water-sculpted rocks, (20 mins)
- Tutoko Bridge viewing point.
Driving notes: Recommend that you have a full tank of petrol before departing from Te Anau. The road is good out to Milford Sound; recommend that you allow plenty of time to stop for sightseeing.
Return trip Milford Sound to Te Anau is by same route 118 kms allow 2 - 2˝ hours
The settlement at Milford Sound is primarily a disembarkation point for those arriving by road and air. Most visitors then take a scenic cruise into the fiord to best appreciate the spectacular scenery and wildlife. Watch for seals, dolphins and the rare Fiordland Crested Penguin. Take warm clothing to wear on board the boat, binoculars, sunhat and glasses and personal insect repellent to ward off sandflies – and of course your camera and accessories.
The Fiordland National Park is New Zealand’s largest covering an area of 1,251,924 hectares and encompasses a jagged coastline of many inlets and fiords (the two best known being Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound) as well as lakes, rivers, waterfalls and forest covered mountains. These mountains are home to the rare flightless bird the Takahe, thought to be extinct for more than 50 years before being rediscovered in 1948.
The Milford Road
The Milford Road is a unique journey into the heart of Fiordland National Park, part of Te Wāhipounamu - South West New Zealand World Heritage Area. Some of the most striking and significant features of the World Heritage Area are revealed along its route. Excellent short walks and sightseeing along this road
World Heritage Highway
The Milford Road is a unique journey into the heart of Fiordland National Park, part of Te Wāhipounamu - South West New Zealand World Heritage Area. Some of the most striking and significant features of the World Heritage Area are revealed along its route. It is 119 kilometres from Te Anau to Milford Sound. The sealed road takes about two hours to drive without stops.
While many travellers will be satisfied to admire the scenery through windows of a car or bus, others will be rewarded by stopping to discover the short walks or viewing sites along the way.
The road is occasionally closed from the Marian Corner due to adverse weather conditions, particularly in winter. Signs at each end of the road notify motorists of closure. The no stopping signs between Marian Corner and The Chasm should be observed during periods of avalanche danger.
Motorists are advised to fill vehicles with petrol in Te Anau, although Gunns Camp and Milford Sound can have supplies.
An Historical Journey
The first human inhabitants of New Zealand travelled along parts of what is now the Milford Road to gain pounamu, or greenstone from Anita Bay in Milford Sound. The Māori name for Milford Sound is Piopiotahi, after the native thrush - piopio - now probably extinct. Permanent Māori settlements were located in the Hollyford Valley and around lakes Manapōuri and Te Anau, linked by well-worn routes through territory rich with eels and forest resources.
Milford Sound was named by a Welsh sealing captain John Grono
after his birth place, Milford Haven. The first permanent European
resident was Donald Sutherland, a Scottish prospector, sealer and
ex-soldier, who arrived in 1878. A fjord and waterfall are named
after him and he helped cut the Milford Track with Quintin Mackinnon,
establishing a land link with the interior and a tourist route.
In 1889 William Homer discovered the saddle now named after him. The section of road from Te Anau to the Divide was completed by government work scheme gangs in the 1930s. Work on the Homer Tunnel began in 1935 but difficult conditions and interruption by the Second World War delayed its completion until 1954.
In 1992 the last section of State Highway 94 was sealed and new visitor facilities were completed at Milford Sound.
A Natural Journey
The Fiordland Mountains are comprised of hard rocks like gneiss, diorite and granite. The Milford Road begins on the ridges of rock debris deposited to the side of a glacier that once filled Lake Te Anau.
The U-shape of the valleys and the steep bare walls have been formed by the grinding and rounding action of glaciers. Just before the Homer tunnel the road enters a cirque basin, carved by ice into a steep walled amphitheatre.
High mountains stand in the path of prevailing westerly moisture laden winds that bring heavy rain and snows falls to the area. Plants and trees here have adapted to this very wet environment. On the dry terraces east of Lake Te Anau fire modified shrublands of manuka, bracken and young beech are very different to the forests to the west of the mountains.
As the road enters the Eglinton Valley red beech becomes the dominant tree, interspersed with important remnants of native grasslands and wetlands.
Walkers may see bush birds like tomtits, grey warblers, fantails, chaffinches and brown creepers. Rarer birds like riflemen, robins, yellow-heads (mohua) and parakeets are also relatively common. Native long-tailed bats and recently discovered short-tailed bats are active around dusk in summer, near streams and borders of the forest.
Beyond Lake Gunn silver beech trees are stunted because of the harsh climatic conditions. Mountain ribbonwood, hebe and fuchsia grow on ground laid bare by frequent snow avalanches.
Kea, our cheeky mountain parrots, are frequently seen around
the Homer tunnel. Here buttercups and daisies grow among alpine
shrubs and tussocks.
On the descent into Milford Sound/Piopiotahi occasional native conifers like rimu rise above the silver beech. Tree ferns, under-storey shrubs, mosses and ferns thrive in the wet conditions.
Milford Sound/Piopiotahi stretches 16 kilometres to the open sea and is 265 metres deep in places. The very high rainfall creates a permanent freshwater layer on the sea surface. Below this layer - stained a tea colour by material washed out of the forest - there is a concentrated 40-metre band of unusual marine life growing on and around the sheer rock walls.
For information about the Milford Road and a map showing the highlights we provide our clients with maps and a route guide:
Walks on the Milford Road
For Milford Road Walks we provide our clients with a brochure
Key Summit - 3 hours return
The Key Summit track is an ideal introduction to the impressive scenery and natural features of Fiordland National Park.
The track starts at The Divide carpark and shelter and follows the Routeburn Track for about an hour. It then branches off on a 20-minute climb to Key Summit, where there is a self-guided alpine nature walk.
Walkers will pass a range of native vegetation: beech forest, sub-alpine shrublands, and alpine tarns and bogs. Birdlife is prolific and tomtits, robins, wood pigeons and bellbirds are commonly seen.
Key Summit provides panoramic views over the Humboldt and Darran Mountains. During the last ice age, which ended about 14,000 years ago, a huge glacier flowed down the Hollyford Valley and overtopped Key Summit by 500 metres, with ice branches splitting off into the Eglinton and Greenstone Valleys.
Lake Marian - 3 hours return
The Lake Marian Track is signposted from a car park area about 1 km down the Hollyford Road. The track crosses the Hollyford River/Whakatapu Kā Tuku by swing-bridge then passes through silver beech forest to a spectacular series of waterfalls, reached after 10 minutes. The track then becomes steep and sometimes muddy during the 1.5 hour ascent through forest to Lake Marian.
Lake Marian is in a hanging valley, formed by glacial action, and this setting is one of the most beautiful in Fiordland. The lake is above the bush line and reflects the Darran Mountains which surround it.
Lake Gunn Nature Walk - 45 minute round trip
The Lake Gunn Nature Walk is an easy 45-minute loop walk suited to all ages and accessible to wheelchairs.
The walk provides an introduction to tall red beech forest and birdlife typical of the Eglinton Valley. Side trips can be made to several lake beaches and sheltered fishing spots.
Here an interpretive display has been provided to show the effect of avalanches on the Milford road and give some information on the wildlife of the Eglinton valley.
Mirror Lakes - 5 minutes
A good place to stretch your legs during the drive to Milford Sound. Small lakes provide outstanding reflective views of the Earl Mountains. Waterfowl and wetland plants can be seen against a backdrop of beech forest.
The Chasm - 20 minutes return
Two foot bridges over the Cleddau River offer spectacular views of a series of waterfalls. Thousands of years of swirling water have sculpted round shapes and basins in the rock.
Bowen Falls - 30 minutes return
A boardwalk skirts the steep rockwall shoreline beyond the Milford Sound launch terminal. NOTE: Check to see if this Bowen Falls walk is closed due to geological instability. An alternative option is the Piopiotahi/ Milford Foreshore Walk, an interpretive walk of up to 30 minutes, starting from the main visitor carpark.
Return trip Te Anau to Queenstown is by same route, a further172 kms 2˝ hours
Please Click Here to return to our home page/vacation planning.
We include a Route Guide for each segment of your trip.
Please click here to see a sample (.pdf 44kb)
We provide you with full details of each of your accommodation, car and activities reservations
23 rd to 25th January (Sample only)
Hosts: Ron and Robynne Peacock
Arrival Date: 23 Jan 20XX, ex Queenstown
Departure Date: 25 Jan 20XX
Nights Reqd: 2
Room Type: Smokefree, King ensuite with lake view
Tariff per night incl. taxes: NZ$
Total tariff incl. taxes: NZ$
Lodges Cancellation Policy: In the event the lodge is unable to replace your booking the following will apply. (1) 25% of full tariff will be charged if a reservation is cancelled within 30 days of the due arrival date. (2) Should a cancellation be received within 48 hours of the due arrival date, their will be a 100% tariff charge for every room night cancelled.
Comment: Tariff includes accommodation, four course dinner, pre dinner drinks, morning and afternoon teas, breakfast and use of lodge facilities.