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Where to Stay in Milford Sound: Milford Sound Lodge Review

Last updated : February 10th, 2020

milford sound lodge review


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Knowing where to stay in Milford Sound is hard as the options are limited. Luckily, the Milford Sound Lodge exists only 1.5km from Milford (the ONLY accommodation this close to Milford!) This blog is our Milford Sound Lodge Review including why it is the best option for where to stay in Milford Sound and some alternative choices in case it’s all booked up!


Milford Sound is a spectacular place to visit, and an even more amazing place to spend the night.

But where do you stay in Milford Sound?

The truth is, even camping spots near Milford Sound are limited, and if you’re looking for proper accommodation then your choices are even more so limited.

Luckily, the Milford Sound Lodge exists. Only a short two-minute drive from Milford Sound sits a lodge with something for everybody. Dorm beds, luxury chalets, and powered sites –making it not only ideal for its location, but for all budgets as well.

The last time Dan and I went to Milford Sound we opted to stay at the Milford Sound Lodge to save on the driving time and maximize our time in Milford Sound. We love doing sunset photography and since sunset isn’t until 9 pm in the summer, staying at the Milford Sound Lodge was the best option for us.

If you’re trying to decide where to stay in Milford Sound and tossing up the idea of the Milford Sound Lodge, then this blog should answer all of your questions! This is our Milford Sound Lodge review including why we think it’s a great option for where to stay in Milford.

*We’ve also included some awesome places to stay in Te Anau as an alternative (the Milford Lodge often is completely booked up!)


Where to Stay in Milford Sound

the milford sound lodge is one of the best options of where to stay in milford
The Milford Sound Lodge! These are some of the cabins available.
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There aren’t a ton of places to stay in (or near Milford Sound.) The closest place to stay is the Milford Sound Lodge which is only a short 2-minute drive or 15-minute walk from the Milford Sound Foreshore.

Below, you’ll find all of your questions about the Milford Sound Lodge answered as well as our honest Milford Sound Lodge review.  

But, if you have your own car and don’t mind staying a little bit further from Milford Sound then you have more options especially if you don’t mind camping!

If you are looking for some options (other than the Milford Sound Lodge) for where to stay near Milford Sound, keep reading as at the bottom of this blog we list ALL of your options including distances from Milford Sound and prices.  

Related Read:   How to Hike the Kepler Track for Only $25

Where is the Milford Sound Lodge?

The Milford Sound Lodge is located in the most convenient place, only a short 1.5 kilometers (0.9 miles) from the Milford Sound foreshore!

You can easily walk from the Milford Sound Lodge to the Milford SOund foreshore in around 10 to 15 minutes.


How do you get to the Milford Sound Lodge?

The road between Te Anau and Milford Sound
The road to the Milford Sound Lodge is a gorgeous drive!

You need to drive or take a bus!

Unfortunately, tours from Queenstown or Te Anau are full-day trips so if you want to spend more than a day in Milford Sound and stay at the Milford Sound Lodge, then you will need to drive yourself or book a bus.

That being said, getting a rental vehicle in New Zealand is easy, pretty affordable, and driving yourself gives you the freedom to explore on your own terms! Plus, if you rent a campervan you can also camp instead of spending money on hotels!

Along the drive to the Milford Sound Lodge, you will drive on the road from the town of Te Anau to Milford Sound. Along this road, there are many gorgeous places to stop for photos or hiking. Some of our favorite places to check out are the Mirror Lakes, Lake Gunn, the hike to Lake Marian, the Chasm, and the Key Summit hike!

You can rent a campervan on this website and compare prices and availability! Alternatively, you can just rent a car!

Related Read:   Freedom camping in New Zealand

What facilities are there at the Milford Sound Lodge?

the milford sound lodge common area
The common area at the Milford Sound Lodge

At the Milford Sound Lodge, you will find cabins, standard double rooms, dorm rooms, and powered campsites. But besides accommodation, you will also find a café, a restaurant, a common area with a beautiful fully stocked kitchen, and seating areas.

For people camping, the common areas are a great place to hang out (especially when it’s raining.) There are tons of toilets and hot showers as well. We camped there for two nights and it felt like pure luxury!

The common area was great for meeting other travellers and the kitchen is fully decked out with supplies and kept super clean!

For those who don’t want to cook, the onsite restaurant has great reviews and is also reasonably priced with mains for dinner ranging from $26-$39. Be sure to reserve a table for dinner advance though as they do book up! The restaurant also has a breakfast and lunch menu.


Internet Access at the Milford Sound Lodge

Milford SOund at sunset after our Milford Sound cruise
Do you really need the internet when you have these landscapes to explore?!

They do have Wi-Fi at the Milford Lodge that is available at an extra cost to you. We bought some as we need our computers for our blog and social media, but if you can go without I would advise you to do so.

The internet is very ‘touch and go’ out there and sometimes it doesn’t work at all for a period of time. There is also no cell phone service and therefore no data will work on your phone either.

Enjoy the peace and quiet of Milford Sound and stay off your phones if possible!

For weather forecasts, booking cruises or other activities, or just general info you need you can ask reception who have access to the internet and will be happy to answer any of your questions or make bookings on your behalf.


How much does it cost to stay at the Milford Sound Lodge?

the milford sound lodge revew

The price to stay at the Milford Sound Lodge varies greatly depending on the type of accommodation you choose. A powered site is the cheapest option at $35 per person while a riverside chalet could cost up to $585 for a night for up 2 people and 2 children.

For a complete list of updated prices, visit their website


Milford Sound Lodge Review

We spent two nights in our campervan at the Milford Sound Lodge. We had a fantastic time partly because of the facilities at the lodge, and partly because we were so close to Milford Sound!

What we loved about the Milford Sound Lodge

milford sound at sunset
At sunset, Milford Sound is so peaceful!

We loved being able to take hot showers and cook in a clean kitchen. It was nice just to walk around the Milford Sound Lodge property as well as enjoy the views!

However, our favorite thing about staying in the lodge was the close proximity to Milford Sound itself. Because of how easily we could get to Milford we went all of the time!

The first evening we arrived we were able to hang out at Milford Sound for sunset and the next morning we got up early and headed over for our Milford Sound boat cruise and kayak. Then, we went back to the lodge for lunch before returning back to Milford for an early evening snack and to watch the sunset again!

The thing about Milford Sound is that it is a hectic tourist spot from the hours of about 10 am and 4 pm. But anytime outside of those hours it is actually peaceful.

On the nights when we hung out at the Milford foreshore for sunset we were two of only four people around. The tide goes out and we would walk out to the water in silence. No tour buses, no chaos, just serenity! To us, this is the best time explore Milford Sound – and without staying in the Milford Sound Lodge it would be a lot harder to stay out for as long.

Related Read:   The Best Photo Spot in Milford Sound: The Milford Sound Swing

What we didn’t love so much

powered campsite at the milford sound lodge
Our campsite!

Okay, time for some honesty…

The Milford Sound Lodge wasn’t the best place we’ve ever stayed if we remove the location factor. There are some aspects that could be improved that you should be prepared about.

The powered campsites are very small. In fact, on ours our campervan barely fit. There is no space to set out a table and chairs and relax at your campsite. I think they assume you’ll use the common areas to hang out when you’re not inside of your motorhome or camper.

The internet doesn’t work very well and often not at all. I know, I know…we shouldn’t be on the internet anyways. BUT they do charge you for it, and if you are paying for it then, in theory, it should work.

The other thing to note is that the showers are lovely and hot, but this means people often take longer showers. There are plenty of them, but in the morning and evening at peak times there is still a line for the showers. Be prepared for this and maybe consider showing in the afternoon or much later at night to avoid having to wait.

You also need to bring all your groceries with you! There is nowhere to buy groceries near the Milford Sound Lodge. You can eat at the Milford Sound Lodge restaurant but it is often booked full (so be sure to book that in advance!)

The final thing that is frustrating about the Milford Sound Lodge is how busy it is! Since it is the only accommodation option so close to Milford it is booked completely full more often than not. This means you need to book in advance – ugh!

If the Lodge is booked full during your desired stay, stay in Te Anau instead! We’ve suggested some great options for accommodation in Te Anau below!

Overall Opinion of the Milford Sound Lodge

We would definitely stay at the Milford Sound Lodge again. We got tons of time to explore Milford and relax as needed without a long day of driving to and from Te Anau. The pros definitely outweighed the cons in our opinion!

Related Read:   ULTIMATE Guide for Traveling from Queenstown to Milford Sound

Where to Stay NEAR Milford Sound (Milford Sound Lodge Alternatives)

Lake Gun near Milford Sound
Lake Gun near Milford Sound

The Milford Sound Lodge is your closest option to Milford Sound, but it isn’t your only option! Here are your other options for where to stay near Milford Sound:

1. Cascade Creek Campsite 

This is a Department of Conservation (DOC) run campsite located 43 kilometers (26.5 miles) from Milford Sound. It is a very basic campsite with only a pit-toilet (outhouse), basic cooking shelter, and water must be collected from a nearby stream.  

The price is $15 NZD per night per adult and $7.50 for a child. There are 120 non-powered campsites here and they cannot be reserved in advance. It is a first come first serve system and you must pay cash upon arrival.  

*Note: ALL Campsites are this list are DOC run. They all cost the same price and must be paid cash on arrival as a first-com first-serve basis. All of these campsites are basic with pit toilets and non-powered campsites.

2. Upper Eglinton Conservation Campsite 

Another DOC operated campsite. The facilities are also basic and it is slightly farther from Milford Sound at 49 kilometers (30.4 miles) away.  

There are 5 non-powered campsites available at this campground. 

3. Kiosk Creek Conservation Campsite 

Similar again to the other DOC operated campsites, this campsite is the same price and has the same basic facilities. It is located 55 kilometers (34.2 miles) from Milford Sound. 

There are 15 non-powered campsites available at this campground.  

4. Knobs Flat Accommodation and Campground

Knobs Flat is a privately owned property that offers both studio units and campsites for travelers. It is located 55.1 kilometers (34.2 miles) from Milford Sound.

Studio apartments start at $150 NZD per night for two people, but some can accommodate three people.

Campsites are non-powered but there is a full kitchen and common area to use with plugins for phones, cameras, etc. Hot showers and use of the common areas are included in the camping fees of $20 NZD per adult and $20 per child.

5. Deer Flat Campsite 

This is a very small DOC campsite with only three campsites available. They are also first come first serve but could make for a great private camping spot for a larger group with a couple of vehicles! 

It is 58.5 kilometers (36.2 miles) from Milford Sound. 

6. Mackay Creek Campsite

Although we are starting to get a little bit away from Milford Sound at 66 kilometers (41 miles) this campsite does fit a fair number of campers with 20 non-powered campsites.  

It is also run by the DOC and follows the same price and rules as all of the other DOC campsites in Fiordland National Park.  

7. Totara Campsite

Totara is a larger DOC campsite located in a grassy field. It follows the same rules and prices as all DOC Campsites and is located 67.2 kilometers (41.8 miles) from Milford Sound.  

There are 30 non-powered campsites available here.  

8. Walker Creek Campsite

This DOC campsite is the furthest from Milford Sound (70.4 kilometers or 43.7 miles) but the closest to Te Anau (48.1 kilometers or 29.9 miles). There are only 5 non-powered campsites available here. 

9. The Town of Te Anau

Te Anau is the town closest to Milford Sound. If the Milford Sound Lodge is completely booked up, or you just want some cheaper accommodation options, this is where you can stay! 

Keep reading below for great accommodation options in Te Anau!


Where to Stay in Te Anau

Enjoying views pon the Kepler Track, New Zealand
View from the Kepler Track of Lake Te Anau. This trail starts only 5 minutes from Te Anau town.

There are plenty of places to stay in Te Anau which is the closest actual town to Milford Sound. These places are generally cheaper and better in terms of facilities and service.

Te Anau is about a 1.5-hour drive from the Milford foreshore. In town, there are tons of restaurants and large grocery stores. There are also a few fun things to do like checking out the glow worm caves, hiking the Kepler Track, or going on a scenic flight! You can also join a tour to Milford Sound from Te Anau if you want!

Here are a few places to stay that we personally love in Te Anau:

Budget Options:

te anau lakefront backpackers

Te Anau Lake Front Backpackers

This is the perfect option for solo travelers or backpackers as they have affordable dorm beds, tents, and private rooms right in town!

Te anau lakeview kiwi holiday park

Te Anau Lakeview Kiwi Holiday Park

This holiday park is a peaceful and gorgeous option for all travelers. They have powered campsites as well as private rooms and cabins! The shared common areas come in very handy.

Comfort Options:

fiordland lakeview motel and apartments

Fiordland Lakefront Motel & Apartments

This hotel offers gorgeous apartments perfect for couples or families. They are located right in town, have an amazing view, and excellent reviews!

radfords on the lake

Radfords on the Lake

This hotel offers apartments as well as beautiful suites. They are only a 3-minute walk to town center and located right on the lake with incredible views.


Other Things to Know Before you Spend a Night in Milford Sound

Milford sound sunset is a not miss place to visit on the south island of New Zealand
A stunning sunset in Milford Sound!

It rains a lot in Milford Sound. In fact, it rains more often than it doesn’t, so bring waterproof clothing with you! Don’t worry though, Milford Sound is just as spectacular in the rain as more waterfalls emerge!

Sandflies are a serious problem in Milford Sound, and therefore there are lots of them at the lodge too. Bring bug repellent or make good use of the free repellent on offer in the lodge lobby.

When it is windy or in the night the sandflies die down, but on a calm day, you will absolutely need the repellent. These little guys are small but fierce and leave a very itchy bite behind on your skin.

Related Read:   Milford Sound Cruise - The BEST Way to Explore Milford Sound!

Check Out Some Awesome Experiences in Milford Sound!


Where to next?

We have written lots of informative blogs about exploring Milford Sound that you might find helpful. We also have a ton of New Zealand blogs to help plan your trip!

Some of our favorite blogs you might find helpful are:

There are lots of other neat things to do in New Zealand nearby such as Mount Cook National Park or Queenstown.

-Bailey

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About the Author - destinationlesstravel

We are Dan and Bailey, just your typical thrill-seeking travelers! You will likely find us hiking, scuba diving, catching public transport, or just drinking beer at a hostel.

4 Replies to “Where to Stay in Milford Sound: Milford Sound Lodge Review”

  • I would like to ad, that the campsite is not for tents, only for campervans. As we came to the Milford Sound after hiking the Routeburn Track, we did stay in the dorm of the Milford Sound Lodge and to be honest those were not that nice – they were damp and smelly eventhough a fan was running all day. And to use the toilets and showers we had to go to the campsite – no fun in the middle of the night, when you have to walk through the darkness for about 150 meters (one way).

    • Hi Gabby,
      Thanks for the comment and thanks for clarifying about the tent…yes, the campsites are essentially parking spaces where campervans (self-contained or not) can park and have access to power and water.
      Sorry to hear the dorms weren’t up to scratch, we only camped there and thought the facilities were quite nice but we never got a chance to check out the dorms, so thanks for that!
      Overall, we recommend the Milford Lodge because of its amazing location. There is no other accommodation so close to Milford and it makes it very convenient for visiting Milford for sunset/sunrise.
      Did you enjoy Milford Sound and the Routeburn Track?
      Cheers,
      Bailey

  • Hello Bailey, yes, you’re right – the location of Milford Lodge is really good and they also have a shuttle to the boats a few times a day, which helps if you don’t have a car (although walking is fine too). And there aren’t many alternatives where you can stay, so yes, this is probably the best place to stay, but I thought people should know that the dorms might not be what they expect.
    The Routeburn was fantastic – we walked it in two days, which was no problem, although you can take more time. We chose it because the Milford Track was fully booked, but a lot of people said they liked the Routeburn even more than the Milford Track. The Routeburn goes right through the area that Isengard was in the LOTR movies – and that’s the feeling it has.

    • I know what you mean, the Routeburn Track is amazing! We hiked as much of it as we could one day in winter and then completed the whole track in summer…definitely was a highlight of our time in NZ for sure.
      Did you get a chance to do many other hikes in NZ? Any other favourites?

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