Milford Sound is in Fiordland, in the south-west of New Zealand's South Island. It's in a very sparsely populated part of the country, but is accessible from Queenstown and Te Anau, in Central Otago. Here's how to get to Milford Sound.
Although Queenstown and Milford Sound look quite close together on the map, the lakes and mountains in this part of New Zealand mean that the journey between the two is not as quick as it may look at first.
Overland by Private Transfer/Tour
Duration: 4 hours one way
Many travelers visit Milford Sound on a day trip from Queenstown, leaving early in the morning. These are convenient because you can enjoy the views without worrying about driving, and return to your accommodation in Queenstown in the evening.
By Private Car
Duration: 4 hours
Many travelers to New Zealand enjoy the convenience of renting a car. Self-driving between Queenstown and Milford Sound is a good option if you're planning to stay in Milford Sound for a while, or to further explore the area. You can't drive directly west from Queenstown to Milford Sound, and instead have to loop south along the southern branch of Lake Wakatipu and drive towards (but not through) Lumsden, then west towards Te Anau and north along Lake Te Anau. Milford Sound is well sign-posted so there's little chance of getting lost. The drive is mountainous and hilly in places, so is best suited to more experienced drivers.
Duration: 4.5 hours
Direct buses ply the route between Queenstown and Milford Sound, via Te Anau. They leave Queenstown mid-afternoon. They follow the same route as noted above, and are a reasonably comfortable way to travel. However, if you suffer from car sickness, try to sit near the front of the bus as some parts of the road are quite winding, which you'll definitely feel at the back of a large bus.
By Scenic Flight or Helicopter
Duration: Half or full-day tours
Travelers with a generous budget can take scenic flights or helicopter tours from Queenstown to Milford Sound. Some of these stop and let you disembark, and even include a sightseeing boat ride, too. There are different options to suit different interests.
From Te Anau
Duration: 2-hour drive
All of the above options can also be taken from the small town of Te Anau, situated on Lake Te Anau. Te Anau is much closer to Milford Sound, and the drive between them should only take about two hours.