Milford Road Timing

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Jan 26th, 2007, 02:53 PM
  #1
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Milford Road Timing

Have read lots of Milford trip reports and we are hoping to avoid the tour bus crowds along Milford Road and on the tour boats. Time-wise what is the best strategy to avoid the crowds in both places?
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Jan 26th, 2007, 03:00 PM
  #2
 
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Hi travellin,
if you click on my name you'll find some helpful answers to a similar question I asked earlier this month.
Roma
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Jan 26th, 2007, 08:00 PM
  #3
 
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You don't get a lot of choice regarding time of travel on the Milford Road.
If you are starting from Queenstown, unless you get away very early (before 7.30am) you will be among the aproximately 100 tour coaches which travel from Queenstown to Milford each day.
These coach passengers mostly go on the lunch time cruises (12pm & 1pm), so these will generally be tightly packed.
The earlier (10.30am or 11am) cruises are more lightly loaded, and mostly cater for visitors from Te Anau
The lightest loadings are on the mid to late afternoon cruises. The problem with these is that if you are returning to Queenstown you will get home late in the evening. (9.30pm if you take the 3.30pm cruise)
The best way to avoid the crowds is to base yourself in Te Anau, and leave by 8am to catch the 10.30am or 11am cruise. if you want to do any walks from the Milford road, do these on the way out. If you decide on one of the afternoon cruises you could leave Te Anau after lunch. From about 2pm you will be meeting the coaches returning to Queenstown, but this is not as bad as being stuck behind them.
As I said at the beginning. If you are based in Queenstown, you really have no choice but to join the procession. If you are in Te Anau you do have more options, but Milford is a very popular destination, and you are bound to find youself among other happy holiday makers.
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Jan 27th, 2007, 06:29 AM
  #4
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Thanks all!
We are staying in Manapouri so we should be able to avoid the rush if we follow your advice. I can see the temptation will be great to stop at the Milford Road sights on the way in, but we'll resist! Any real faves for the boat trips?
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Jan 27th, 2007, 05:04 PM
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Staying at Manapouri is a good option. Add 30 minutes to the trip for the Manapouri / Te Anau sector.
There is really not much to choose between all the operators on Milford. They all do the same route out & back. Some stop more for the wildlife, and some go further out into the Tasman. Mitre Peak Cruises have a smaller boat. (60 passengers). Most of the others will carry 200 - 400. My advice if you don't want to be crowded. Take the late afternoon cruise on one of the larger boats. May be only 50 -60 other passengers, and you will have the whole boat to yourselves.
You might also like one of the kayaking trips. These leave early, from Te Anau (Coach), and get back late. Great for the more active adventurer.
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Jan 28th, 2007, 05:06 PM
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I agree with everything written so far. Early is best and I would recommend Red Boat Tours. The boats are smaller and they can get right up next to the falls and the giant cliffs and rocks. This is especially important if you strike bad weather, which is most days. However on these boats you will still enjoy the tour. You can also order lunch in advance on their site, which we recommend. They have it ready for you and you have your own table when you board. Very nice. Also available is a stop out on the conservatory. We liked it and you were not there long. Dress as though you are going to be cold and wet and you will have a good time. The road down is very windy and yes there are many tempting stops. You can catch them on the way back. However one that is a short walk 10 min. and a nice stretch is the reflection ponds. Tour busses come out late and they haul booty. I cant believe how fast these drivers can go on those roads. You'll do well to keep up.
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Jan 28th, 2007, 09:47 PM
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Hi Travellin,
We're planning a trip to NZ later this year and want to stay at Manapouri. Can you tell me where you are stayiny?
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Jan 29th, 2007, 06:35 AM
  #8
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We are renting a cottage from Adventure Manapouri. Can't remember their website offhand but if you do a search you'll find them. They have a number of places to choose from. The Captain's Lookout also looks good and the owner is very pleasant, it was booked for the days we needed though.
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