Milford Road Southland New Zealand Credit Liz Carlson 6
Driving in Fiordland
Kea along the Milford Road © Young Adventuress


Tips for driving Fiordland roads

Looking for information on driving to Milford Sound?
Find everything you need to know about the Milford road below.

Allow extra time

Often travellers don’t allow enough time for driving to Te Anau or Milford Sound. Roads in the south pass through diverse terrain and spectacular scenery and require slower speeds in some sections. While the drive to Milford Sound can be done in two hours, it is a good idea to leave at least 3-4 hours so you have time to stop and enjoy the views.

Drive to the conditions

The weather in Fiordland can impact road conditions and travel times. You may encounter heavy rain, ice, snow, fog, wind or debris on the road at any time of the year.  Roads can be narrow, windy and steep, so drive carefully. Always check the road conditions before travelling.

Allow traffic to pass

There are no passing lanes on the roads in Fiordland, if you have traffic behind you pull over and let it past, especially if you are in a motorhome or larger vehicle - or just enjoying the views.  We all like considerate drivers.

Keep left

Just like in the UK and Australia, you will drive on the left-hand side of the road in New Zealand. This may feel unnatural and may take some time to get used to. Always be vigilant and check for oncoming traffic on your right when turning or entering a roundabout.

Wear your seat belt

In New Zealand, the law requires everyone in a vehicle to wear a seat belt at all times.   New Zealand police enforce this law, if you are caught without your seat belt you will receive a fine.

Take a coach instead

If you are at all concerned about driving to Fiordland or Piopiotahi / Milford Sound, take an organised tour instead. Coaches depart from Queenstown and Te Anau for organised tours and give you the benefit of enjoying all the scenery without having to worry about driving. Discover the sights, stories, history and the incredible geology of the area with expert commentary and plenty of short stops. Find a coach tour here.

Driving in New Zealand

Driving in New Zealand can be different from driving in your home country. We drive on the left-hand side of the road and roads can be narrow, winding or unsealed (loose gravel). It is not unusual to see sheep or cattle on roads in rural areas. You need to give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination and to understand the New Zealand road rules and signs.

New Zealand’s roads, particularly those in the South Island, are spectacular and the scenery can be distracting.  If you are holding up other travellers, be courteous and pull over safely to allow queued traffic to pass. When parking at a scenic spot, be sure to park considerately, to allow space for other travellers wishing to stop. Always be aware of pedestrians.

There are some great websites available to help you prepare for driving in New Zealand. Visit for further tips and information. The Automobile Association has a Visiting Driver Training Programme on its website and this is available in a number of languages. Click here to check out the visiting driver information.

The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) provides information on their website on how to keep yourself safe when driving in New Zealand. Before you begin your journey to Fiordland, we strongly recommend you become aware of how New Zealand’s roads are different. Find more information for visiting drivers on the NZTA website.