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Milford Sound Accommodation or Te Anau Accommodation?

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Milford Sound is located on the West Coast of the South Island, New Zealand. With the famous and iconic destination located 120 kilometres from Te Anau, and 288 kilometres from Queenstown, a common question is "where to stay in Milford Sound?" There is actually only one accommodation option in Milford Sound itself - Milford Sound Lodge. Less than 10% of visitors to Milford Sound stay in or around Milford Sound, with almost 80% choosing to stay in Te Anau. In this article we take a look at Milford Sound Lodge and then at the many options available to you in Te Anau.


Milford Sound Trip Planning


Milford Sound is one of the most popular destinations to visit in New Zealand. A Milford Sound cruise will be one of the top highlights of your holiday. The drive to Milford Sound along the famous Milford Road will be as good as the destination. However it is very important to plan ahead and to book accommodation in advance, especially in summer as spots fill up very quickly in Milford Sound and in Te Anau, this can mean that you are forced to stay in and travel from Queenstown, an almost 600km return drive for the day.


We highly recommend staying in Te Anau, just a 120km drive from Milford Sound. We often hear and read visitors reviews wishing they had chosen to stay in Te Anau simply because of the fatiguing day coming from Queenstown. Touring from Te Anau has been growing over the last decade with at least 55-60% of all visitors choosing the lakeside township, hence the importance of booking ahead into a hotel, motel, camping ground or AirBNB.


Milford Sound Lodge


Milford Sound Lodge is located in the small Milford township, about a 10 minute walk from the main cruise terminal. It has a mixture of private units/chalets that look out to the surrounding mountains and native bush, with the remaining options being campsites, which can be used by motorhomes. The lodge is very busy, often booked out well in advance for the summer visitor season. At the time of writing this article (August 2023), we did a search in November 2023 for a Riverside Chalet and availability was quite light. A similar search for a Mountain Chalet has slightly more availability.

Milford Sound Lodge accommodation

The lodge boasts a full restaurant with a focus on high quality, local cuisine such as wild venison, salmon and seafood plucked from the sea nearby. They provide breakfast, lunch and dinner options with prices for a dinner main meal ranging between $42 - $52.


Milford Sound Lodge has a 4-star TripAdvisor rating from just over 1,400 reviews. Accommodation prices at Milford Sound Lodge in the summer season for a River Chalet are $875 a night for two people, and in a Mountain Chalet you are looking at $755.


Milford Road Accommodation Options


There is effectively only one accommodation option on the Milford Road which is at 'Knob's Flat', about halfway between Te Anau and Milford Sound. Eglinton Valley Camp has several different sized cabins & tourist units, with some sleeping up to three people in each.


Pricing varies between $30 for an unpowered tent or campervan site, to $260 for a larger unit with queen & single beds for three people. We undertook a search for the middle of November and found that the units were mostly sold out so again it is important to book in advance by at least a few months in the summer visitor season (October - April).

Knobs flat accommodation on the milford road

Note that there is no restaurants or food purchase options here apart from a vending machine, and some staple grocery items from the office. There are shared kitchen facilities for guests to use.


It would be fair to stay that this accommodation is more of a camping/lodging stay and not somewhere to stay unless you have your food supplies with you.



Milford Sound Camping

There are several campsites that are appropriate for tents or campervans along the Milford Road. The most popular is Cascade Creek which sits alongside the Eglinton River and is a commonly used area by long campervans as it is quite an expansive area.


Several campsites have running water, however boiling this is often recommended. Our table below shows you where there are cooking facilities which other than the ability to have a fire, is only Cascade Creek. The sites with fires allowed bust be in a pit or fireplace provided.

Campsite

Distance from Te Anau

Booking

Sites / Size

Water

Cooking

Henry Creek

25km

Online

40 / Medium

Yes

No Fires

Walker Creek

49km

Online

5 / Small

Yes

No Fires

Totara

53km

Online

20 / Medium

Yes

Fires Allowed

Mackay Creek

53km

Online

15 / Small

Yes

Fires Allowed

Deer Flat

62km

Online

15 / Small

Yes

No Fires

Kiosk Creek

65km

Online

10 / Small

No

Fires Allowed

Upper Eglinton

71km

Online

3 / Small

Yes

Fires Allowed

Cascade Creek

76km

Online

120 / Large

Yes

BBQ & Fires Allowed

Booking online can occur through the Department of Conservation website: DOC Booking Website


Te Anau Accommodation Options


Very likely to be the best and easiest option for your accommodation, Te Anau offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit all preferences and budgets. From luxury lodges, hotels and comfortable motels to backpacker hostels and campsites, you'll find a place to rest your head after a day of adventure.


For a touch of luxury, consider staying at the Cabot Lodge, Fiordland Lodge or Fiordland Eco Retreat, who offer stunning views of Lake Te Anau and the surrounding mountains. If you're travelling on a budget, Bob & Maxines Backpackers offers cozy and affordable accommodation options. In between are several options including:

We would recommend any of the above and these can be found through your usual accommodation booking website choice. You will notice that Te Anau accommodation is generally cheaper than Queenstown in almost all cases of comparing like for like. The average nights accommodation in Queenstown is $366 per night for two people, versus $265 in Te Anau on a similar style comparison.

Affordable Te Anau Accommodation Options

There are several camping grounds around Te Anau, as well as backpackers. We have ranked these more affordable & budget friendly offerings in order of their star ranking from Google:


Te Anau AirBNB Options


There is over 120 options on AirBNB for Te Anau at any one time. Below is the approximate median price (taken from a one night stay in the middle of February 2024) for each size of home.


Two people - $200 ($100 each)

Three people - $340 ($113 each)

Four people - $380 ($95 each)

Five people - $550 ($110 each)


The majority of AirBNB options are homes that have at least three bedrooms, full facilities such as kitchens, multiple bathrooms and garden space. There are some beautiful homes close to the lakefront or up behind Te Anau in the hills with spectacular views.


Whatever your budget, there are plenty of accommodation options in Te Anau and a couple along the Milford Road and in Milford Sound itself. If your budget does not stretch to Milford Sound Lodge, Te Anau is a great option for not just a place to stay but the town itself with great restaurants and things to do in Te Anau such as the Glowworm Caves, Fiordland Jet, a cruise on the Historic Faith, a water wings flight, helicopter tours or a simple stroll along the many kilometres of lakefront or riverside walk track.

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