Today we had the longest self-driving route of our world tour ahead of us: from the small town of Franz-Josef we went 640 kilometers through the New Zealand Alps to Milford Sound.
Table of contents
Our current route through the New Zealand Alps
Google has calculated a pure journey time of almost 9 hours for today’s route. So we started early at 8.30 am in cool 7 degrees and sunshine from our hostel Chateau Franz in Franz-Josef.
The road first led us a little along the coast and then went a little inland. When we stopped to refuel after two hours of driving in the small village of Haast and saw the daily newspapers at the checkout, we were amazed by the pictures: In the south of New Zealand, winter has broken out on the route we still had before us today. So we were curious to see what else to expect…
The “Crown Range Road” pass road
From the village of Wanaka there are 2 roads leading to Queenstown. One is Highway 6 and the other is Cardrona Valley Road / Crown Range Road. Crown Range Road is the highest main road in New Zealandwith a maximum height of over 1,120 metres. It offers magnificent views of the mountain ranges north of Queenstown and the Cardora Valley. With steep serpentines and narrow bends winding through the beautiful landscape, the road is also one of the most dangerous traffic routes in the country. In the winter months (from May to September) special care is required: here, in some passages, there is even a chain obligation.
When we had to cross the Pass Crown Range Summit just before Queenstown, it got really wintry. So we stopped briefly, enjoyed the view of Queenstown and the surrounding area and built our first snowman. From the Crown Range Summit, the road goes steeply down to Queenstown.
Highway 94 to Milford Sound
After a short meal stop in Queenstown, the ride continued via Te Anau and Highway 94 to Milford Sound. Luckily, the sun melted most of the snow today, so the road was completely clear. Due to the snowmelt, however, small waterfalls were seen everywhere on the many steep slopes.
Shortly before Milford Sound you have to pass through the 1,270 meter long Homer Tunnel. Since it can only be used in one lane, it can happen that you have to wait more than 10 minutes before the tunnel entrance.
Our Milford Sound hotel
Around 6pm we arrived at Milford Sound and moved into our room at Milford Sound Lodge. Afterwards we cooked something to eat in the communal kitchen and let the evening end comfortably.
We had booked a double room with shared bathroom here, as a chalet was unashamedly expensive. The lodge was fully booked, although it was off-season. So you should book early because you don’t have so many alternatives. The room was ok, clean, but very small. It’s enough to sleep. Heating is provided in the room. Internet you have to buy additionally, unfortunately not free of charge. There is a shared kitchen, which is far too small when the lodge is fully booked. We had to wait a little bit, eh time a pot was free. Otherwise, everything was there. The sanitary facilities were ok, there were six showers. Actually far too few at full occupancy, but there were still no queues. For one night the lodge is ok, but longer but rather not.
All travelogues from New ZealandFor 11 days we explored New Zealand from north to south by rental car on our own. We started our trip on the North Island in the city of Auckland, we experienced the tremendous underground forces in Wai-O-Tapu and Orakei Korako, we explored the capital Wellington, drove across the New Zealand Alps, did a glacier hike on the Fox Glacier, before we finished with a trip through the UNESCO World Heritage Site Milford Sound. New Zealand is a really beautiful country that we enjoyed incredibly.
North Island: Auckland – Tourist Attractions, Things to Do & Photo spots (New Zealand)
North Island: Waitomo – The Waitomo Glowworm Caves (New Zealand)
North Island: Rotorua & The geothermal area Wai-O-Tapu (New Zealand)
North Island: Orakei Korako – The geothermal region in Taupo (New Zealand)
North Island: The Tongariro Alpine Crossing & the city of Wellington (New Zealand)
North Island / South Island: Picton – The ferry from the North Island to the South Island (New Zealand)
South Island: Abel Tasman National Park – Hiking & Boat tour (New Zealand)
South Island: Pancake Rocks & the Sea Lions at Cape Foulwind (New Zealand)
South Island: The Franz Josef Glacier in Westland National Park (New Zealand)
South Island: Fox Glacier – Heli-Hike, Glacier Walk & Ice Climbing (New Zealand)
South Island: New Zealand Alps – From Franz-Josef to Milford Sound (New Zealand)
South Island: Milford Sound – A boat trip through the fjord (New Zealand)
South Island: Road to Milford Sound & the town of Queenstown (New Zealand)