Milford Sound is one of New Zealand’s most popular areas for tourists, with almost 1million visitors passing through each year it’s hard to imagine there would be a place where you can unplug, unwind and reconnect with nature.
Hidden in the rainforest alongside the Cleddau River is the Milford Sound Lodge, a slice of tranquillity in the ever-bustling Milford Sound. During our three day visit to this famous Fiord, we managed to grab ourselves one of the Mountain View Chalets – a more luxury type of accommodation than we’re used to, after ‘roughing it’ in a campervan for the best part of three years.
Are you curious about Milford Sound’s only form of accommodation? Here’s why we think the chalets are worth splashing out on;
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The Milford Sound Lodge is located within the Fiordland National Park and gives you unbeatable access to Milford Sound. Being the only form of accommodation in the area, staying anywhere else would require at least an hours drive to get into Milford Sound.
Once you pass through the Homer Tunnel, Milford Sound Lodge is just a short 15 minutes drive through the rain forest. Then from here, you can either walk into Milford Sound, which will take you a leisurely 30 minutes down a 1km track through the bush or drive and park at the Milford foreshore.
We spent an hour driving down Milford Road, soaking in the mountain views and rain forest roads. We didn’t know what to expect from the Milford Sound Lodge, having rarely ever stayed in ‘proper’ accommodation (and by that, I mean anything that isn’t a campsite…).
Despite not having many expectations, as we pulled off the main road and into the Milford Sound Lodge driveway I couldn’t help but feel blown away. The backdrop of the lodge was nothing but mountains and, thanks to recent rainfall, towering waterfalls.
The reception area is modern and bright, with a small seating area for those time when there might be a wait. We were fortunate enough to visit during a post-covid quiet time, so queues were non-existent but the smiles were plenty.
Our Mountain View Chalet
Despite arriving long before the allotted 3pm check-in time, we were welcomed with friendly faces who were more than happy to let us check-in and get settled early. After a long drive from Wanaka, that was very much appreciated.
Navigating our way across the courtyard, the wooden structure and parking space of our Mountain View Chalet cleverly hid the views that were waiting for us on the other side.
With my blinkers on, I opened the door and headed through the spacious modern room and straight for the big glass double doors that open out onto wooden decking. The views from here were even more spectacular than the ones driving in.
The Darran Mountain Ranges towered above our Chalet providing the views that were promised, and the Cleddau River running below.
Back in the room, it was easy to believe they were freshly renovated. The lush carpet under my feet was a stark contrast to the wooden floorboards of our old campervan.
We had a sofa that provided comfort for soaking up the views and a small dining area, should we decide to dine in our room.
When booking out Mountain View Chalet, we were given the choice of king-size or twin beds. Of course, we chose a king-size bed… the bigger the better, right?
Our only niggle was the way our this had been formed from the two singles with sheets and mattress proctors over to hold the two together, forming a small ridgeline down the centre of the bed that was particularly noticeable for me as a light sleeper.
Apart from that, the bed was really comfy.
After the views, this was perhaps my favourite part of our Mountain View Chalet – along with the hairdryer that was provided. Again, probably because of the years spent using public amenities or shared campsite facilities.
Our bathroom consisted of a big double shower with its own waterfall style head… I could have (and it felt like I did) stood under that shower for a lifetime.
The room was well lit and nicely decorated, with the dark green walls nicely hinting towards the rainforest outside.
Ammennaties + Inclusions
The most important inclusion for all Chalet accommodation at Milford Sound Lodge is the breakfast which is delivered to your door in the morning, or, if you’re like us and heading out to see the sunrise, they’ll drop it off the night before.
It’s essentially a continental breakfast but you can either pick a few from the list or have them all – as Dec did. The options for us were croissant with jam, muesli, fresh muffin of the day (we had raspberry and white chocolate + chocolate chip), greek yoghurt, fresh cinnamon roll and orange or apple juice. This was delivered to us every night at around 8pm, ready for us to devour early the next morning. They usually do breakfast at 8-9am, or whenever you prefer.
As I mentioned before, Milford Sound Lodge was kind enough to provide a hairdryer in our room. Pure luxury for someone who lives on the road.
Along with this we also had a mini-fridge for if we had been organised enough to bring our own food – which we weren’t. As well as tea and coffee.
The Internet is provided for free with our Mountain View Chalet and for us, it worked fast enough. It’s worth noting that it’s provided by satellite, as opposed to hard-wired like city wifi, so in bad weather or busy seasons, it can be pretty slow.
The underfloor heating was a nice touch considering our booking coincided with the start of winter. There wasn’t quite snow on the mountains when we visited, but it was certainly on the way.
Other Accommodation Options
Milford Sound Lodge might be the only option within Milford Sound, but the Mountain View Chalets aren’t the only accommodation available. We stayed in our Mountain View Chalet for our whole stay, so while we didn’t experience the other options, I’ve still included a small rundown of what they include.
River View Chalet
These are a step up from the room we had and offer a better view of the river – although ours wasn’t bad! They offer the same amenities and inclusions but a little more privacy due to having fewer neighbours and being a little further away from the main camp.
2 Bedroom Luxury Garden Chalet
The most luxurious of all the accommodations, the Garden Chalet’s sleep up to 4 people and are completely private to the rest of the camp. They’re fully equipped with their own kitchen as well as a larger garden.
Image of the River View Chalet by Milford Sound Lodge
Rainforest Camping + Backpacker Dorms
These are the most popular options for people who are road tripping and want to spend a little longer within the Fiordland National Park.
The rain forest campsites and dorms don’t necessarily have ‘a view’ but the location of Milford Sound Lodge means you’ll still be able to see the mountains.
The shared amenities for these options weren’t something we used, but they looked spacious enough for the number of camp spaces available.
Prices have changed recently due to Covid, we were extremely lucky to get our room for the price we did – I’ll talk about this soon.
For the most up to date quote, we recommend checking out their website or giving them a call.
Alongside rooms, Milford Sound Lodge also offers experiences at Milford Sound. We booked out Milford Sound scenic cruise direct with the company, but if you want the ease of booking everything all at once you can do that with MSL.
Experiences offered by MSL include;
- 1 or 2 nights stay + cruise
- 2 nights stay + kayaking + cruise
Plus simply booking the tours on your behalf.
Cafe + Restaurant
You should know by now that we’re not foodies. We love good food, but we wouldn’t consider ourselves to be dining connoisseurs. We do, however, know bloody good food when we eat it but what’s to follow isn’t going to be a magazine worth review haha.
Due to the ‘weird circumstance’ surrounding the world at the moment, their usual menu wasn’t on offer.
Instead, they had just one option for lunch – chicken or halloumi burger. This wasn’t an issue for us and it turned out the chicken burger left us wanting to eat it again the next day! Something that doesn’t happen often with Dec, who loves variety with his meals.
The evening menu was a little more varied but required preordering in the morning to ensure the Chef knew who he was catering for that evening – the food was then freshly cooked when we arrived for our table.
Over the two nights, we tried the salmon and pork belly starters followed by the venison steaks and monkfish mains.
I actually ended up having the venison on both nights because I’m not a lover of fish
Not that I’m complaining, the Kumara (sweet potato) mash that accompanied it was to-die-for! I could have eaten a whole dish of just that.
I’m also not usually a big fan of pork belly, finding it too fatty and not keen on pork crackling but the small starter was just enough and tasty enough to convert me to try it more often.
We found the prices fair as well, we might not stay at hotels very often but we do try and eat out when we travel. For two courses and two alcoholic drinks, our meals worked out at around $100. Which is pretty average for an evening meal out in New Zealand, meaning this was really good quality for the price!
Wild Venison and Kumara Mash
Staff + Service
I’ve touched upon this briefly before but it’s worth mentioning again.
The staff and service we received all throughout the Milford Sound Lodge was outstanding.
Everyone was really friendly and I honestly think they were just happy to see customers after a long period of restricted travel within New Zealand.
All of the staff who we had multiple encounters with – like our waitress who was with us on both nights – remembered us and welcomed us back warmly. They all had time to chat and were more than happy to offer advice on local walks and things to do in the area.
Value for Money + Final Thoughts
This is what you’re really here for, isn’t it? Is the Milford Sound Lodge worth the money?
Well, despite getting our room at more than half the price (because of a post-covid offer, not because they paid for part of our stay – the offer price was available to the public) I can honestly say I would be more than willing to pay full price for a future stay.
The room we stayed in usually retails at $615 a night. Before staying here for $199 and experiencing it for ourselves, we definitely felt that the prices were steep.
Considering this is the only accommodation within Milford Sound, it’s just a short walk from the foreshore or Milford and the views are unparallel to any other accommodation you’ll get nearby (with the nearest hotel being over an hour away), we believe you get your money’s worth when you stay at Milford Sound Lodge – not to mention the included breakfast and wifi that you would otherwise have to pay for at their hotels.
Overall we found ourselves extremely relaxed and satisfied with our stay at Milford Sound Lodge. We look forward to visiting in the future and might even try out one of the other options, who knows! Are you visiting Milford Sound soon? Take a look at our review of the Milford Sound scenic cruise that we did while we were there!