1 / 3
Milford Road is one of the world's most scenic drives. Its passage through a wild, rugged landscape is sheer testament to the tough men of yesteryear who forged its path. The creation of the Milford Road opened the door to an otherwise inaccessible wonderland of nature walks, wildlife and unspoiled wilderness, all waiting to be explored. Today, travellers can take their time to experience the magical sights and numerous activities on the incredible journey to Milford Sound.
The Road and its History
In the early 1880s, local man Henry Homer came up with the idea of a vehicle passage to Milford Sound. Pushing for progress, he scouted a suitable course for the road. In 1890 his route was officially surveyed and Homer's scheme, including the drilling of the 1.2km Homer Tunnel was deemed feasible. But progress halted and it wasn't until much later - with the onset of the Great Depression - that the necessary labour for construction became available. In the early 1930's, work finally began on the 121 km stretch of road from Te Anau to Milford Sound. Wielding only picks and shovels, these hardy men faced extreme weather and frequent avalanches. Delayed by the onset of WW2, the Milford Road and Homer Tunnel finally opened in 1954. In order for the road to be open safely year-round, the avalanche danger had to be addressed. In 1983 an internationally recognised avalanche control programme was implemented to make the road less hazardous.
Present day travel on the Milford Road is safe, and visitors taking the correct precautions can now relax and soak up the unique attractions of this special place.
A Haven for Wildlife
The lush beech forests and valleys along the Milford Road are alive with the song of vibrant native birdlife. A peaceful stroll on any of the wonderful walks will reveal tomtits, grey warblers, fantails, riflemen and the friendly NZ bush robin. Keep an eye out for the rare yellowhead and kakariki, occasionally sighted by the sharp-eyed bird watcher. Hop out of the car and wander into the Eglinton Valley for a chance to glimpse the iconic blue mountain duck, and make sure to keep an eye out for the cheeky kea near the entrance to the Homer Tunnel.
There is truly something for everyone on the road to Milford Sound. Spend time freely exploring the walking and hiking opportunities available as well as photographing the great sights. There's also a wide variety of guided activities on offer. Walk the Gertrude Valley for sublime alpine views or take the easy track to Key Summit for a unique hiking experience. Enjoy sections of the famous Hollyford or Routeburn Tracks or take to the water kayaking in the tranquil waters of Milford Sound - a great way to see Fiordland's marine life.
Pleasant evenings can be spent soaking up the ambience of the area in the comfortable and scenic accommodation available at Milford Lodge. Staying in the heart of Milford Sound is the perfect way to reflect on a day of special adventures along the Milford Road, and the perfect base from which to launch your next day of fun.
Written: 6 articles
Experience a more authentic Milford Sound with an overnight stay. Premium riverside chalets, cosy & affordable private & shared backpacking rooms, campervan sites. No campervan tour of the South Island is complete without a night in Milford Sound.