Ask a local on which type of weather in Milford Sound is better and you will generally find a 33/33/33 split between a sunny day, a day full of rain and a winter's snowy day. We simply cannot choose one, it would be unfair to the others as they are all equally as stunning, just in different ways.
Te Anau Township
An absolute must if you are coming from outside the town such as Queenstown or Invercargill. The backdrop of the vast Kepler Mountains sets the tone of peace while wandering along the lakefront at any part of the day. Particularly special is sunset time as the extreme purple, orange and red colours burn over Mount Luxmore before night falls and you are met with almost total star coverage on a clear night.
Breakfast and coffee at the Sandfly Cafe at 9, The Lane, is a great way to start your day of adventure into Milford or elsewhere. Open from 7am each weekday.
Te Anau Downs
The only way to get access to the Milford Track, arguably New Zealand's best 'Greatest Walk', is by boat to Glade Wharf at the top of Lake Te Anau, an hour cruise from Te Anay Downs via RealNZ or Fiordland Outdoors.
The Murchison Mountains greet you as you leave the sheltered bay of the Downs, a photo must on a clear, sunny day back at the carpark or boat wharf.
Te Anau Downs has limited cell reception, WiFi and ammenities but serves as the last point on the Milford Road with any of this available before entering in Fiordland National Park. This will likely be a quick stop, but nonetheless worth it for the perfect pic of the Murchison's.
One of the most popular stops along the Milford Road on both a summer or winter day. Limited visibility usually during a wet day makes this a quick stop, but in the sunshine you will want to simply lay down in the drenched field flats that border Mount Eglinton.
Make sure you stay long enough for it to be quiet once other tours have moved on so that you can soak up the distant trickle of the Eglinton River. Its trout fish filled waters flow down from mountain lakes further up the road and it is a very popular spot for fly-fishers from around the world.
At Luxe Tours, our stop here on a good day is typically around 20 minutes, allowing time for the magic photos and a moment of serenity with your partner or family.
Really best viewed on a clear blue sky day, particularly in the morning with no direct sun hitting the lake in front of you. Mirror Lakes is 56km north of Te Anau, access is wheelchair friendly and a short 5min walk from the carpark.
Not only do you ideally want a blue sky, but also as less wind as possible so that the Earl Mountains behind the lake, reflect back at you.
Mirror Lakes is a quick stop but a must do on any sunny day trip through to Milford Sound.
While Lake Gunn is also gorgeous in the winter and a snowy day, standing at the head of the lake looking south on a sunny, clear day is simply spectacular. It provides for a picturesque photo, but also the opportunity for you to spot water life such as eels or trout swimming in the shallows of the water edge.
Most tours will not stop long enough for the nature walk, but if you have a spare 30 minutes and 1.4km in your legs, then the carved out path through ancient red beech forest is worth it.
Don't expect to see any of its namesake around this area but certainly some other wildlife such as the famous Kea, an endangered parrot. Fiordland is home to one of the largest populations of Kea in the world due to its secluded, safe mountain tops where they can reside.
Monkey Creek is a glacier-fed spring with crystal clear, pure water that you can drink. Fill up your drink bottle or simply sip directly from the creek.
On a sunny day, this is an obvious photo-stop opportunity with Mount Christina to the east and Flat Top Peak to the west providing curtains of steep mountain surroundings.
These stops are absolute must-do's on a sunny day but that in no way should take away from stopping there on a wet or winter day, but if you need to prioritise due to time then the above is where your GPS should be set to.