Milford Sound is beautiful. However, Milford Sound when the day-trippers go home is a very special place. There are very limited places to stay – one lodge is only for trekkers which leaves just the Milford Sound Lodge.
This guest post is from a professional couple in their late 30s who were inspired by Sandal Road to take their own trip to New Zealand. In their third post on Sandal Road, they are giving some great tips on accommodation in Milford Sound.
Milford Sound Lodge offers backpacker rooms, tent sites and campervan sites – none of which are my idea of accommodation. The sound of a “luxury riverside chalet” is more like it and Milford Sound Lodge have four of them.
Milford Sound Lodge’s luxurious chalets
This is my version of glamping. These one-room studios are positioned so that you see nothing but the river and mountains. You feel like you are the only person on Milford Sound. The floor to ceiling windows are on two sides of the chalet and inside is a king size bed, kitchenette (microwave, fridge and toaster only – if you want a stove you need to go to the main lodge) and luxury bathroom. The windows even have screens to keep the pesky sandflies away while letting you enjoy the outdoor air. All rooms have air conditioning for the summer and room heater for the winter.
We booked the bed and cruise combo and took the last cruise of the day we arrived. We then had dinner, covered ourselves with bug repellent and went out on some of the walks that were too busy on the drive up. Our favourite was The Chasm short walk as we had it all to ourselves. This walk crosses a bridge where on your left, you see this nice running river, and on the right is a drop nearly two full grown trees down and you realise that you are standing on the chasm (hence the name) where the water drops. This picture doesn’t do it justice – it is really cool.
What these rooms do not have is a phone or internet access. So when we woke up to a heavy downpour, we had to keep running to the main lodge to find out when the road might re-open. Eventually, housekeeping kicked us out of our room as checkout is 1000 AM and the road opened at 1030. However, at 1100 we were still blissfully unaware of this as we were watching all of the new waterfalls springing from the mountains and discussing the changing direction of the river that was now full of water.
As you can expect, you need to book well in advance for one of these chalets. We booked in September for our December stay and we planned the rest of our trip around this stop.
A few other key points about Milford Sound
Audio commentary for your drive: if you are on a self-drive and you book at Milford Sound Lodge, the confirmation email contains a link to an MP3 which is guided commentary for the Milford Road. I downloaded to my iPod and then took an AUX cable to run it through the car. It allowed me to see the scenery instead of reading the guidebook as we went along.
The sandflies are horrible. Some bug repellents don’t repel the flies – they will still land on you, they just don’t bite. And they swarm so even when you are covered in bug repellent you are still walking through swarms of them and you feel like you are breathing them up your nose, etc. Sunrise and sunset near water are the worst. Also, they don’t go away in the rain! They do die down a bit after dark but they are truly horrible little creatures.
Milford Road closures: the Milford Sound road closes a lot but the difficulty of driving the road is overstated as we had already covered the Crown Range and Haast Pass. The standard for opening the road is that crazy drivers in huge vehicles can get around which is a very high standard. Be prepared with extra food and water because you are likely to have a delayed arrival / departure.