NZ over the ditch tour-day 8 : Milford Sound

Day 8 – Queenstown to Te Anau, via Milford Sound

Don’t fool yourself. You CAN do it. If I did it, you can too.

After spending day 7 (my non-ride day) in a helicopter, on a steam boat and having a massage, I was rested, re-energised and ready for the sound...MILFORD SOUND. But was I ready for the looooong ride ahead?

See TribalMoto Travels for a compilation of small videos of this journey.

Man in helicopter on mountain top

Steamboat looking across water to mountain QueenstownMilford Sound mountains and water

The pressure was on from the get go today, with the plan to a ride from Queenstown straight to Milford Sound for a cruise booked at 1pm, then return to Te Anau for the night. All up, over 350kms.
Mountains around Queenstown NZ

As we rode south, hitting Te Anau you could feel the “I’m heading to the ski fields” kinda cold setting in. Which would be great if you were actually skiing! With the wind buffeting us all like an industrial fan on turbo, I zipped up my jacket to the top and put my head down, well apart from the occasional wave at a cow.

Motorbike rider and mountain side NZ

I’ve been using heat packs on the back of my neck most days to relieve the tension and help at the end of the day. Today I chucked a few extras around about. Warm and toasty, a little too warm tbh! My gorgeous lilac Chux had a run again today, too. 

Milford sound mountains and a motorbike

At this stage we were right on time, but the weather man did not lie, and with a rain front visible at brunch, getting to the cruise on time was going to be a challenge. I found myself wiping my visor frantically with that 'Ima gunna be late" feeling, which isn't deal on a motorcycle. But I had 8 days straight riding under my belt, what could go wrong?

Milford sound on a motorbike

As we rode closer to the sounds, the mountains started to rise like the phoenix, not only in front of us, but around us. What also appeared were the roadworks and the longest darkest tunnel I've ever seen. Now, unbeknown to us, these  have quite long queue wait times, one as long as 9 minutes. WE happened to hit ALL three of these.

Milford tunnel on a motorbike

With minutes to spare, we jumped, soaked, off the bikes and ran with our helmets on, to the ferry terminal, where we swankered on like we had hours to spare, having made it by minutes.

I left my adrenal glands at the pier and boarded along with the other 100 or so excited and also slightly soaked people. Still in our gear, the looks from other passengers were varied… some took pity, others looked at us like we were from another planet (like we do when we see cyclists in the rain haha).

 Four of the five Muskateers on the ferry in Milford Sound

Sitting outside, you get the best view, and a little of the spray from the waterfalls as we cruised past. 

Annya on the boat Milford Sound

Milford Sound kept its cloud cloak on for our visit, but we could see glimpses of the mountains that surrounded us, which were as spectacular as the ride in.

Milford Sound mountains from the water

Tip: take cash on the boat. We did not, but were thankful the instant coffee and tea was complimentary. I had to settle for eyeing off the tasty muffin from afar.

We pulled up to the pier and hotfooted our hungry bellies to the local cafe for coffee and ... a muffin....before heading to Te Anau. The clouds parted and we all had a skip in our step as we knew how good this road would be dry.

Milford Sound NZ road works

The ride back from Milford WAS dry, so let’s just say we made use of this, riding these amazing roads to the best of our ability 😉 A standout memory for me and a highly recommended the dry!!

Sun out during motorbike ride Milford Sound

Returning, we entered the under mountain tunnel at 800 above sea level, slowly climbing, we exited at 1000 metres above sea level. This was a weird experience on a motorcycle. Dark and dank, and which had to be done with an open helmet as mine is tinted!


We checked in, tired and happy, into the Arran Motel Te Anau, then took a short 10 minute walk to dinner at the Fat Duck Gastropub. Great company, amazing food and at the end of the day, my bed never looked so good. Zzzz

Sitting on a cute bench in Te Anau NZ


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