An epic roadie to the eighth wonder of the world, Milford Sound, is often crowned the top thing to do in New Zealand. With mountains jutting like giants from the Tasman Sea, it’s easy to understand why this world-famous fjord is so popular – especially in summer. Yet those brave enough to stand the cold of winter will be rewarded, when many believe Milford Sound is at its best.
Winter brings dramatic scenes of crashing waterfalls and ghostly mists – the perfect backdrop for snapping moody shots with your camera! However, you’ll need to plan carefully to stay warm, dry, and happy.
Here are our top five tips for helping you make the most of your chilly adventure to Milford Sound.
1. GEAR UP
Warm clothes, plenty of water and comfortable shoes will already be on your list of things to pack. But what about snow chains? It’s a legal requirement to carry snow chains on the Milford Road in winter, even if the weather looks great. The last thing you want is to be caught out and fined for travelling without them. Luckily you can purchase them from most petrol stations in Te Anau, the nearest town. Or, save yourself the hassle and request snow chains with your JUCY campervan.
2. SAVE FREE CAMPING FOR SUMMER
Driving past a beautiful spot and deciding to settle there for the night is all well and good, but only when it’s warm outside! Save free camping for summer and book into one, or both, of the TOP 10 Holiday Parks in Te Anau or Queenstown. At these powered sites, you can plug in a heater (available to hire with your JUCY camper), wash and dry your wet clothes, and use the cooking facilities to prepare something tasty. The campground at Te Anau even has a hot pool, perfect for warming up on a frosty night.
3. PREPARE TO GO OFF THE GRID
There is no reception on the road to Milford Sound, so be prepared to use the internet for anything you need before leaving Te Anau. Remember to double check and make a note of important information you might need, such as the time of your JUCY Cruise booking and flights home. For emergency calls, there are telephones located at Knobs Flat and Milford Sound itself (card payments only).
4. THE ROAD MIGHT BE CLOSED
In winter the road to Milford Sound can close unexpectedly due to dangerous driving conditions. Tour operators and campgrounds in Te Anau receive regular updates on the changing weather, and the status of the road, so be sure to ask around. Updates on the road will also be available online. Once the road is opened, be sure to fill up with petrol in Te Anau. There is an emergency petrol station in Milford Sound – but it will cost you!
5. CONSIDER OTHER OPTIONS
Driving yourself to Milford Sound isn’t the only way to experience this journey of a lifetime. To save yourself the hassle of fixing snow chains, paying for petrol and arguing over whose turn it is to take the wheel, book yourself onto a JUCY Coach Tour from Queenstown. The tour still allows you to discover some of the best short walks and photo stops along the Milford Road, before marvelling at the watery landscape you’ve been waiting all your life to see.