The 120km Milford Road (SH94), from Te Anau to Milford Sound, is one of the world’s finest. This two-hour drive can easily take a day if you grab every photo opportunity, and longer if you explore some of the excellent hiking trails outlined on the Milford Road leaflet, available free from the i-SITE in Te Anau. Anywhere else the initial drive beside Lake Te Anau would be considered gorgeous, but it is nothing compared to the Eglinton Valley, where the road penetrates steeper into bush-clad mountains, winding through a subalpine wonderland to the bare rock walls of the seemingly impassable head of the Hollyford River. The Homer Tunnel cuts through to the steep Cleddau Valley before the road descends to Milford Sound.
There’s very little habitation along the way, no shops or petrol, but lots of great camping.
Maori parties long used the Milford Road route on their way to seek pounamu at Anita Bay on Milford Sound, but no road existed until two hundred unemployment-relief workers with shovels and wheelbarrows were put on the job in 1929. The greatest challenge was the Homer Tunnel, which wasn’t finally completed until 1953.