Hints and Tips for your Milford Sound day trip
Hints & Tips for your Milford Sound day trip from QueenstownWe would suggest taking a small backpack or carry bag on the bus for all those things you feel you may need.
What to WearWear comfortable clothes and shoes. It is a good idea to take a few layers of clothing as the temperature outside can vary. We would suggest a light jacket, warm top and hat for the brief outside excursions like the short walk to Mirror Lake and the Chasm. Also for out on the deck during the boat cruise.
Don't ForgetOn your coach trip to Milford Sound take a bottle of water, some snacks. Carry some cash as we do stop at the shops in Te Anau, refreshments can also be bought on the boat. A light jacket is essential, there will be some incredible photo opportunities so don't forget your camera (you make need some spare batteries) or if you use your cell phone to take photographs, make sure it is charged, sunglasses and a hat are handy on the boat. And before you leave your accommodation, make sure your have your ticket. Keep an eye on the time as we leave quite early in the morning due to the distance to be travelled. Make sure you know where you are meeting the bus, and if it is not at your hotel, make sure you know where it is that you have to meet it, and how to get there.
The BusThe luxury Milford Sound Select bus is custom made for this trip, it is cosy and comfortable with reclining seats and plenty of leg room - there is even a toilet at the rear. The road trip to Milford Sound from Queenstown takes 5 hours so bring along everything you need to be comfortable. Although the trip is very scenic, most visitors take advantage of the quiet and comfort of the bus on the way back to have a light nap.
The StopsWe have more photo and comfort stops than the other Milford Sound coach trip, so take advantage of this, hop out stretch your legs, take some pictures (the landscape is amazing), there is plenty of time, enjoy this unique opportunity. Take lots of photos, get someone to snap some pictures of you in the landscape, this is the trip of a lifetime, you want to return home with lots of memories of the trip. We also stop at Te Anau both on the way to Milford Sound and on the way back. On the way it is a great chance to grab some snacks and refreshments to take to Milford Sound (sorry no shops in Milford Sound), also any batteries etc. On the way back to Queenstown you can grab a coffee or having stretch before the long trip back.
The Road Trip is as Breathtaking as Milford SoundIt is a long way by road from Queenstown to Milford Sound. This is a bonus, as you will be constantly amazed at the countryside you travel through, it is the iconic New Zealand countryside you see in the movies and in the travel catalogues. What makes New Zealand road trips unique is the fact that the landscape changes all the time, one moment you are in rainforest, the next in rolling green farmland, then you are amongst rugged snow clad peaks. This concentrated variety of spectacular terrain is what has made New Zealand a favourite for film makers, they are able to film at a golden sand surf beach in the morning then on a glacier in the afternoon, or snow skiing in the morning and on a green golf course hours later.
More than drivers, passionate localsThough having professional and responsible drivers is a fundamental requirement of Milford Sound Select, what we most pride ourselves in is the fact that the drivers are local experts and passionate about the environment they work in. They love this area and have immersed their lives in enjoying it, they know the details, the history, the stories, and enjoy nothing more than to share their enthusiasm with visitors. They are also good reliable 'blokes' who will look after you during your day with Milford Sound Select.
Lunch, snacks, refreshmentsMost travellers order a lunch box with us for their trip to Milford Sound this is the easiest option and there is a vegetarian version. It would pay to take a few snacks and a bottle of water. We stop in Te Anau at the shops, here there are cafes, a supermarket and food shops where you can grab some snacks or refreshments. Sorry we can't have highly odourous food on the coach for obvious reasons. You can also buy food and refreshments on the boat.
Your fellow TravellersEven though our coach numbers are kept relatively small, the trip to Milford Sound brings together visitors from all over the world for the same reason, introduce yourself, get to know them. The trip is a great way to make new friends, and the trip is always more enjoyable when you are able to share the experience. Take their photograph for them on their camera, share notes about your journey, get together back in Queenstown this is the joy of travel.
While the Milford Sound trip is Fresh in Your mindSet aside some time when you get back to Queenstown to upload your pics to Facebook or email them to those back home who are waiting to hear about your experiences - you will have some amazing pictures and stories, retell them while they are fresh in your mind. Send your Milford Sound images or link to those new friends you met on the trip, it's a great way to say goodbye and hello again.
Using your cellphone or tabletFor a lot of the time on the Milford Sound road trip you will be out of cell phone range (you are in the wilderness). If you want to send any pictures or anything, and your phone has been working in Queenstown, you may have to wait until we return to send off those messages and snapshots. Be reassured that we do have a satellite phone on the coach for emergency calls in those areas without cellphone coverage. You can use your tablet on board the coach however there is no internet reception, please use your headphones if you are watching a movie on it.
Bus or drive to Milford Sound?Visitors often ask, is it better to drive yourself into Milford Sound from Queenstown or get on one of the tour buses? The buses offer numerous advantages over driving yourself to Milford Sound, the least being the hassle of driving on a road where conditions aren't always ideal.
Cost, take into account the price of gas (expensive in New Zealand), the amount of kilometres, car hire, the boat cruise etc it will probably work out pretty similar, except you don't have someone driving for you. Note: there are no gas stations in Milford Sound!
Long drive, remember that it is 302km each way between Queenstown and Milford Sound, that is about 9 hours driving on a mostly winding road. The road is through wilderness, where the weather can cause less than relaxed driving conditions. It is a beautifully scenic road, though it does demand your constant attention whilst driving. When you get back to Queenstown you will know you have driven over 600km.
View, the bus is made for getting the best view of the scenery, the full support of a good reclining seat with lots of leg room over a 9 hour drive is hard to beat. The added height of the bus gives a better view, and remember a lot of the trip is through very high yet spectacular alpine valleys, the coach with its large windows and glass roof gives you unsurpassed views - something the driver won't be able to look around at on an undulating and winding road.
Convenience, when you go to Milford Sound in a coach they have it well timed. You have to be up and on that bus for an early start to make the most of the day, the bonus, the early light in this area is amazing. The coach can drive straight up to the boat terminal at Milford Sound, being able to get straight on a boat at Milford Sound saves a lot of time. With very limited empty space in Milford Sound, trying to park your car can be a challenge - it's busy. If you are worried that travelling by bus to Milford Sound you may miss out on some shopping opportunities, forget it, there are no shops, there are shops in Te Anau where the coach stops, both on the way to Milford Sound and on the way back.
Knowledge, knowing what you are looking at, this area is incredible and the more you know about it the more fascinating it becomes. The drivers are long time locals who are passionate about this place, on the way they will give you those amazing stories, details on the flora and fauna, the geography, the history and most importantly they will make sure you don't miss those must see places, easily missed, off the side of the road.
Relax and enjoy, one major bonus to visiting Milford Sound by coach that most travellers don't take into account. In the coach you can have a nap on the return trip and be fresh enough to go out and enjoy Queenstown that evening. Queenstown at night is legendary and the great dining and night life should not be missed by any visitor.