10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Milford Sound
10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Milford Sound

10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Milford Sound 🏔️ [2022]

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Free (and Cheap) Activities in Milford Sound

Want to see the “Eighth Wonder of the World” but don’t think you have the funds? Nonsense! You don’t have to pay for scenic cruises or extravagant flights to enjoy the stunning glacier-carved fiords of this UNESCO World Heritage Area. Free hiking trails, short walks and natural sights are a perfectly good – no, exceptional – way to experience Milford Sound‘s famous scenery. Don’t believe us? Just check out this list of free and cheap things to do in Milford Sound!

For more free things to do in Milford Sound, as well as budget tips, check out The Travel Guide to Milford Sound on a Budget.

1. Get That Iconic View from the Milford Sound Foreshore Walk – FREE

Let’s get started on our onslaught of free walks in Milford Sound with the one that will get you those iconic Milford Sound views. The Milford Sound Foreshore Walk is a 30-minute walk that takes you through a small tract of forest to the sandy foreshore with postcard views of Mitre Peak (the highest peak in Milford Sound). A bonus walk: check out the Milford Sound Lookout Track, a 20-minute walk which is another good one to enjoy views of the famous fiord. Find it behind the cafe at the visitor parking area.

Location: Starts at the main visitor car park of Milford Sound, State Highway 94, Milford Sound.

10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Milford Sound© NZPocketGuide.com

2. Take the Ferry to the Bowen Falls Walk – CHEAP

And to fill up more of our “cheap” quota for this free and cheap things article, the Bowen Falls Walk is a walk in Milford Sound that you actually have to pay for. It’s very affordable, however, and one of Milford Sound’s rare hidden gems. After a short ferry ride from the Visitors Terminal at the Milford Marina, you’ll reach the trail meandering through native bush and beech trees until you reach a viewing area of Milford Sound’s highest waterfall, Lady Bowen Falls at 162m (530ft) high. The walk takes approximately 30 minutes. The ferry costs around NZ$10 return for adults and around NZ$5 for kids.

Location: Cruises depart from the Milford Marina at the end of State Highway 94.

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3. Experience Part of a Great Walk on the Key Summit Track – FREE

For those looking for a walk with more substance, don’t miss the Key Summit Track. Part of the Routeburn Track Great Walk, the Key Summit Track is a three-hour return walk zigzagging up to a mountain summit with alpine lakes to explore over boardwalks and panoramic views of mountains. Check out more walks like this in the 11 Milford Sound Walks You Can’t Miss.

Location: The Divide Shelter car park, State Highway 94, approximately 34km (21 miles) from Milford Sound.

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4. See Stunning Waterfalls and Lakes on the Lake Marian Track – FREE

The Lake Marian Track is also a popular half-day walk. The first 10 to 20 minutes of walk takes you across a swingbridge to a series of cascading waterfalls before climbing to the stunning Lake Marian in a hanging valley surrounded by mountains. The walk takes approximately three hours return.

Location: Lake Marian car park, Hollyford Road, approximately 32km (20 miles) from Milford Sound.

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5. Stop Off at the Eglinton Valley – FREE

Some of the other free activities are simply the sights along the Milford Road, such as the iconic Eglinton Valley. This flat-bottomed valley with golden tussock grass is a worthy photo stop with plenty of parking along the roadside. The valley was carved by glaciers and is the only Fiordland valley like this that’s accessible by road. If you’re on a bus tour, don’t worry, they all stop here too! Check out more iconic sights in the 16 Stops You Can’t Miss on the Road to Milford Sound.

Location: State Highway 94, approximately 65km (40 miles) from Milford Sound.

10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Milford Sound© NZPocketGuide.com

6. Walk the Lake Gunn Nature Walk – FREE

Yet another amazing walk to enjoy on your way in or out of Milford Sound, the Lake Gunn Nature Walk is a 45-minute loop walk. It takes you through magnificent red beech forest to the shores of Lake Gunn with spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. While wandering between the moss-covered trees, keep an eye out for native birds like riflemen, tomtits and more! The walk is wheelchair and stroller-accessible and a good one to do if travelling with kids, just like the 10 Things to Do in Milford Sound with Kids.

Location: Cascade Creek car park, State Highway 94, approximately 43km (27 miles) from Milford Sound.

10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Milford Sound© NZPocketGuide.com

7. Go Camping – CHEAP

While you have very limited options for staying in the wild and wonderful surroundings of Milford Sound and the Fiordland National Park, the exception to the rule is the campsites. There are eight Department of Conservation campsites along the Milford Road, that not only allow you to break up the notoriously difficult drive but allow you to soak in the scenery of a UNESCO World Heritage Area. Learn more about some of our favourite campsites in the 10 Best Accommodations in Milford Sound.

Location: See the locations of the campsites on the Department of Conservation website.

10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Milford Sound© Pixabay

8. Check Out the Mirror Lakes – FREE

A must-do on the Milford Road, the Mirror Lakes offer spectacular reflections of the Earl Mountains in its dark tannin-filled waters. Although it’s classed as a walk, it’s more like a roadside attraction with viewing platforms overlooking a lake. Look out for the New Zealand scaup, i.e. the diving ducks on the lake too.

Location: State Highway 94, approximately 61km (38 miles) from Milford Sound.

10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Milford Sound© NZPocketGuide.com

9. Hang Out with a Kea – FREE

It might be worth pulling up at the roadside stops along the Milford Road to take in the scenery, but the main reason to do it, in our minds, is to meet some cheeky kea! These native alpine parrots are not afraid to say hello and, more likely, start trying to peel the rubber seals off your rental car. Kea are lots of fun but The Department of Conservation kindly reminds visitors to not feed them.

Location: State Highway 94, approximately 61km (38 miles) from Milford Sound.

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10. Fill Up Your Water Bottle at Monkey Creek – FREE

Maybe this is grasping at straws as we reach the end of this list of free and cheap things to do in Milford Sound, but if you want to do something a little different, stop by Monkey Creek! There, you can fill up your water bottle with pure mountain water on your way to or from Milford Sound.

Location: State Highway 94, approximately 24km (15 miles) from Milford Sound.

10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Milford Sound© NZPocketGuide.com

[CLOSED] Discover the Water-Carved Sights of The Chasm – FREE

[Update: The Chasm is closed due to flood damage. Get the latest updates about the walk on the DOC website].

Also, on your way in or out of Milford Sound, stop by The Chasm Walk, which takes you over several footbridges to admire a chasm carved deep into the Cleddau River. This wheelchair and stroller accessible walk takes about 20 minutes to complete. Plus, you might be lucky to meet a friendly kea parrot, the world’s only alpine species of parrot, in the car park.

Location: State Highway 94, approximately 10km (6 miles) from Milford Sound.

10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Milford Sound© NZPocketGuide.com

More Free and Cheap Things to Do in Milford Sound

That’s it for our list of cheap and free things to do in Milford Sound. For more experiences that don’t necessarily fall into the “free and cheap” category, check out the following articles:

Finally, for more free stuff, check out the 50 Best Free Things to Do in New Zealand.

Author

Laura S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor in chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in New Zealand over 10 years ago and with a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to travel New Zealand. She knows Aotearoa inside-out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience New Zealand’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also editor of several other South Pacific travel guides and is the co-host of NZ Pocket Guide’s live New Zealand travel Q&As on YouTube.

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