Living in Queenstown New Zealand- absolutely everything you should know

You want to know what living in Queenstown is really like. In this piece, I’ll give you the lowdown on finding a job, finding an apartment and whether Queenstown really is the best place to live in New Zealand.

Queenstown has been our home for the past two years. Living in Queenstown was one of the best decisions we made. It is known as the ‘adventure capital of the world’ with all sorts of adrenalin-filled sports available. It is stunningly beautiful, I mean all you have to do is google image the place to see why it is so popular with tourists & expats.

P.S. I’ve also lived in Sydney and Whistler, Canada if you fancy reading about what it’s like to live there!

If you’re interested in applying for a Working Holiday Visa to New Zealand, read all my detailed instructions here.

Is Queenstown a good place to live?

Definitely! We loved our two years in Queenstown – there is so much to do & not only expensive/adventurous things like bungee-jumping, helicopter trips, boat trips & skiing. There’s lots of fabulous FREE things to do too – the views from the local hikes are stunning, you can go for a bike ride through wine country or be brave and take an icy-cold swim in the bright blue waters of Lake Wakatipu.

Here’s my detailed list for budget-friendly things to do in Queenstown!

It’s easy to make friends in Queenstown – I think this is because of the large population of overseas backpackers on Working Holiday Visa’s. Before your move to Queenstown, we recommend joining local Facebook groups to get a ‘feel for the town’ – these groups are also great for finding jobs or rooms to rent. Facebook groups I recommend Queenstown Trading and Queenstown Houses to Rent

helicopter over queenstown
View from a helicopter ride over Queenstown

How much does it cost to live in Queenstown?

Prior to COVID-19, Queenstown was known as one of the most expensive cities in New Zealand. With rent being the most expensive cost for most. Back in the ‘good ‘ol days’ a lot of landlords rented their properties to the throng of tourists via airbnb. Hence, the demand was higher than the supply for long-term rental properties. Since COVID however, rents in Queenstown have dropped an average of 20% (our two-bedroom in Frankton dropped from $590 to $450 per week). A weekly food shop for two can cost between $100 – $200 per week. Add on electricity and other bills like WiFi (both of which are quite reasonable) and my best estimate is that each person would need to earn $500NZD per week to live comfortably in Queenstown.

Cheapest Supermarkets in Queenstown

Food shopping is reasonable with Pak N Save in Frankton being the best bang-for-your-buck supermarket. It’s kind of like a CostCo but without the need for membership. A weekly shop for two (including beer/ wines) cost us approximately $200NZD which I imagine is way above the average. It’s definitely possible to do a weekly food shop for two for $100 NZD if you’re thrifty. Keep in mind that fruit & veg is seasonal in Queenstown (& in New Zealand as a whole) so only buy in-season otherwise you will pay a fortune!

Other supermarkets in the Queenstown area include Countdown at 5-mile Shopping Center in Frankton; New World at Remarkables Park; FreshChoice on Gorge Road and Alpine Market (a small store in Queenstown CBD).

Eating out in Queenstown

Eating out can be as expensive or as cheap as you want – you can splurge on a fantastic meal at Botswana Butchery or Rata. But, we loved using First Table to get 50% off meals, this app gives you the first table of the night for 50% off – it’s a great way to try out Queenstown’s restaurants cheaply. The best cheap-eats in Queenstown include Fat Badgers for pizza, the famous Fergburger, Caribe Latin Kitchen for delicious Mexican food and Taco Medic.

So, in short Queenstown can be an expensive place to live (especially with all the temptations) but once you start earning money you will notice the expense less & less.

bobs peak, skyline gondola queenstown
View from Bob’s Peak

How much money do I need to move to Queenstown?

My estimation is that start-up costs to move to Queenstown will cost you approx. $4,000 NZD. This figure takes into account your first months rent, your rental deposit (usually one months rent), stuff for your apartment like bed sheets, cooking utensils etc and one big food shop.

Surprisingly homeware is cheap in New Zealand – K-Mart, Warehouse & Spotlight all located in Frankton are your best bet for cheap stuff to furnish your house. There’s also a Facebook group Queenstown Buy/Sell/Trade where you can grab a great second-hand bargain! But thankfully most places here come fully furnished. 

How much is rent in Queenstown?

Rent prices in Queenstown vary massively, our two-bedroom apartment in Frankton was $590 NZD per week pre-COVID and $450 NZD per week currently. Which is actually quite reasonable considering it was over three levels & had two balconies. For units closer to town you are likely going to pay from $350 NZD per week for a one-bedroom apartment. If you go further afield to Shotover Country/ Lake Hayes (a 20 minute drive from town) average rental prices for a one-bedroom decrease to about $300 NZD per week.

If you really want to save money on rent, you can rent a room from about $100 – 150 NZD per week, again this price massively depends on where the house is located and the condition of it. Some share houses are truly awful.

My top tip is to arrive in Queenstown before the peak seasons begin – if you’re planning to stay for the Summer season arrive in October and for the Winter season arrive in April. This way you will have more choice of rental options available to you.

If you plan to buy a house in Queenstown – note it can be hard to choose the perfect house abroad. So, make sure you  do a lot of research to figure out what you want and set out a reasonable budget.

skyline gondola queenstown
View from top of Skyline Gondola

Where do people live in Queenstown

There are a couple of neighborhoods in Queenstown, here I will list the best/most popular. We lived in Fernhill for one year and Frankton for the second. We loved both area’s for different reasons.

  • Fernhill – one of the closest neighborhoods to the town but it’s located up a very steep hill so you will need to be fit if you want to walk to/from town. There is a regular bus service however. Fernhill is popular with backpacker’s and the quality of the houses tend to be focused towards these backpackers, but it is one of the ‘cheaper’ areas to live. There’s a small convenience store and a fantastic fish & chip shop here.
  • Goldfield Heights – located off the main Frankton Road into town, and just a 5-10 minute drive away. The houses here are typically larger, so a lot of ‘rooms only’ come up for rent here. Again, there is a regular bus service into town.
  • Frankton Road – Frankton Road is the main road that connects Queenstown to Frankton. Frankton is the commercial hub in Queenstown – this is where the large supermarkets are located. As well as K-Mart, Warehouse and so much more. Most of the properties on Frankton Road are newer apartment complexes or townhouses. There’s a popular lakeside walking track in Frankton too.
  • Shotover Country/ Lake Hayes – I’ve put both these area’s under the same section as they are both large housing estates next to one another. Shotover Country being slightly closer to Queenstown. This is a popular area for young families and the houses here are pretty much all new-builds. It’s a longer drive into Queenstown from these neighborhoods at about 20 minutes. There’s a bar/restaurant in Lake Hayes.
  • Arrowtown – a cute, picture-perfect town about a 20 minute drive from Queenstown. This area is popular with long-term locals. Arrowtown is a town in itself with restaurants, mini-marts, bars etc so no need to venture into Queenstown regularly. Arrowtown is especially stunning in fall.
  • Kelvin Heights – or the ‘sunny side of the lake’ as locals call it. Seriously it always seems to be sunny in Kelvin Heights. Long term locals tend to live here and the houses are typically nice & large. A semi-regular bus service operates here. The Hilton hotel is located over here and theres a nice walking track along the lake.
  • Jacks Point – an upmarket housing development at the base of the Remarkables mountains. The houses here are seriously gorgeous but they tend to be on the large side so it’s ‘rooms to rent’ that come up over here often. The Jacks Point Golf Club is located here, which has a bar/restaurant with great food. There’s also a nice lakeside beach and walking track a 15 minute walk from the houses.

Check out Harcourts or QAC for a large selection of rental properties currently available. We used both these letting agents during our time here.

lake alta, remarkables, queenstown
Lake Alta on the Remarkables mountain range

Best short-term apartments for rent in Queenstown

My best advice is to rent an apartment short-term in Queenstown while you search for a long-term apartment. That way you’re not under any pressure to find a place quickly and you can get a feel for the neighborhoods and find out which area is best for you. I DO NOT recommend committing to a long-term apartment without having seen it in person -as unfortunately there are a lot of rental scams in Queenstown. One such example is when the pretend “landlord” says he’s out of the country and to transfer the rental deposit to his bank account and he will leave the keys in xxx place for you to collect. As you can probably guess, the keys are never there to be collected and the “landlord” has done a runner with your money.

Here are the best apartments I found for short-term rent –

Glebe Apartments – centrally located (next to Queenstown Gardens in the CBD) these stylish apartments are a great option. You can choose from Studio, One; Two or Three bedroom apartments.

Cranbury Court Apartments – are again centrally located on Glebe Road, just a 5-minute walk from the CBD. FreshChoice supermarket is also close by. You can chose from One, Two or Three bedroom apartments.

Apartments at Spinnaker Bay – luxurious apartments with great lake views, these apartments are located on Frankton Road. You can walk the Frankton Track into the CBD – taking about 25 minutes. The apartments here are very stylish – choose from One, Two or Three bedroom apartments.

The Whistler Apartments – also located on Gorge Road, these apartments are a very popular choice in Queenstown. Just a 5-minute walk from the center of Queenstown. There are two supermarkets very close by – Raeward Fresh and Freshchoice. Choose from One or Two bedroom apartments.

wilsons baby, queenstown, new zealand
Me at gorgeous 7-mile Carpark viewpoint|!

Is Queenstown the best place to live in New Zealand?

Okay, okay Queenstown is stunningly beautiful – I mean have you SEEN the photos! But there is so much more to Queenstown than it’s good looks. It’s a great place to live as an expat and it is very easy to have a good comfortable life here. Wages are typically high, and rent (currently due to COVID) is the lowest it’s been in years. It’s easy to make friends thanks to the large backpacker community. And the bar-scene (if you’re into that sort of thing) is excellent. It’s obviously a great place to tick things off your bucket list. From plane rides over Milford Sound, jet-boating on a world-famous boat or trying out the first bungee-jump in the world.

UPDATE – This July we waved goodbye to our gorgeous home of Queenstown, New Zealand. We made the difficult decision of moving to Ireland because of Covid, visa issues and my pregnancy.

Have you ever considered living in Queenstown? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.

If you plan on visiting Queenstown for a vacation only then you HAVE to check out my guide to 24 hours in Queenstown


You want to know what living in Queenstown is really like. In this piece, I’ll give you the lowdown on finding a job, finding an apartment and whether Queenstown really is the best place to live in New Zealand.

10 Cafes with the best views on the North Island

Listing 10 of the very best Cafes on the North Island of New Zealand, because if there’s two things New Zealand does best it’s great coffee and even better views. Judging on the success of my other article ‘12 Best Cafes on the South Island‘ which has currently been shared over 1,000 times you all are itching to find out where the very best Cafes in New Zealand are. Thankfully, I’m here to help and this article features all the very best Cafes on the North Island from a quirky cafe with a mosaic living room to a tropical paradise high above Russell with bright blue ocean views.

So, read on for our contenders for the best Cafe on the North Island of New Zealand.

Honey House Cafe, Kerikeri

Located right next to the historic Stone Store in Kerikeri and with stunning views out to the gorgeous gardens and river below this is certainly one of the best spots for a brew in Northland. Serving up everything from iced coffees, hot coffees and hot & cold foods you could easily spend an hour or two here. Maybe even longer if the weather is nice enough for you to sit outside.

Address | 246 Kerikeri Road, Kerikeri Basin

Facebook | click here

Helena Bay Cafe

Stunningly set in a tropical garden with incredible ocean views over Helena Bay, honestly, the view from this Cafe is trully breathtaking. Fairtrade coffee, homemade cabinet food as well as a seasonal Lunch menu are on offer here. Located just 30 minutes North of Whangarei and an hour from historic Russell. There is also an Art Gallery and Sculpture Garden on site.

Address | 1392 Old Russell Road, Helena Bay

Website | click here

Waterfront Cafe & Bar, Mangonui

Gorgeous views across Mangonui Harbour why not have your coffee alfresco on the Cafe’s deck. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner (I hear their Eggs Benedict is famous with locals) and of course excellent coffee.

Address | 1 Waterfront Road, Mangonui

Facebook | click here

L’Arte Cafe & Gallery, Taupo

Their website describes the Cafe as a ‘visual and edible feast’ and I have to agree, from the outdoor mosaic living room to the mosaic pathway leading up to the Cafe, this place is certainly full of colour. It is a 20 minute drive from Taupo town, but well worth the drive in my opinion. Serving up Allpress Coffee and fresh hot and cold food. Be sure to visit the Art Gallery on site.

Address | 255 Mapara Road, Acacia Bay, Taupo

Website | click here

Secret Garden, Waihi Beach

A gorgeous Balinese inspired outdoor space complete with a coffee pod serving up delicious Allpress coffee, smoothies and other yummy food treats. Over the Summer & long weekends you can enjoy live music in the gardens. Also, why not pop into the designer clothing & home ware store on site.

Address | 17 Wilson Road, Waihi Beach

Facebook | click here

Eutopia Cafe, Kaiwaka

Recently reopened after a 5 year closure, this unique Cafe & art space features crazy scupltures and award-winning coffee. Eutopia has been lovingly handcrafted by owners Marijke & Robert along with their sons and a little help from volunteers. Each piece of the Cafe has been restored and designed. Serving up breakfast and lunch and utilizing as much organic produce as possible. And of course delicious Rush Coffee.

Address | 1955 State Highway 1, Kaiwaka

Website | click here

Chocolate Fish Cafe, Wellington

A seaside Cafe located within the old defence buildings on Shelley Bay Road with heaps of indoor and outdoor seating (choose outdoor on a sunny day). Just a 15 minute drive from Wellington CBD. Given its location right on the waters edge, it makes sense this Cafe serves up some of the best seafood in Wellington. If you don’t fancy seafood there’s a variety of non-seafood items on the menu too.

Address | 100 Shelly Bay Road, Miramar, Wellington

Website | click here

Maranui Surf Lifesaving Cafe

Epic seaside views across Lyall Bay means this little Cafe can get very busy especially at the weekend or on a nice sunny day. Serving up breakfast and lunch, or fresh counter food if you’re after a quick snack. Of course delicous coffee too, to savour while you watch the surfers on the beach below braving ‘Windy Wellington’s’ waves.

Address | 107 The Parade, Lyall Bay, Wellington

Website | click here

Takapuna Beach Cafe

Join in with the locals and enjoy the holiday-vibes at Takapuna Beach Cafe. Floor-to-ceiling windows means you can enjoy the view across the Hauraki Gulf no matter the weather. Food-wise enjoy pastries, sandwiches and fish & chips to takeaway or if you dine in there is a more extensive menu available.

Address | 22 The Promenade, Takapuna, Auckland

Website | Click here

Punnet Eatery, Hamilton

Set on a Strawberry Farm, this is in fact what Punnet Eatery started as until it became so popular with locals and tourists alike that it was transformed into a trully wonderful foodie and coffee destination. You can pick your own strawberry’s on the farm, visit the on-site Country Providore store or indulge in fresh & yummy food at the Punnet Eatery. The Punnet Eatery serves up rustic fine dining with menu items such as burgers, bento bowls and cakes.

Address | 337 Newell Road, Tamahere

Website | click here

Third Place Cafe, Rotorua

With expansive views of Lake Rotorua and Saint Faiths Church and even a children’s play area this is an ideal Cafe to relax for an hour or so. The Cafe itself is bright & spacious and serves up everything from salads to burgers to fish and chips. There is also a wide selection of fresh cabinet goods if you’re after something lighter.

Address | 35 Lake Road, Rotorua

Website | click here

And there you have it 10 of the very best Cafes on the North Island of New Zealand. I’m certain I’ve missed some of your favorite Cafes, but all of the above are Cafes I’ve personally visited – of course if you have any suggestions to add to this list please use the comment section below.

Here are the very best airbnb’s on the North Island

Fancy a unique stay on the North Island? Well, these are the absolute coolest airbnb’s I’ve ever seen. Honestly, click on the links below to see them in all their glory!

Tree house above harbourWellingtonSee more here
Cozy bush chaletAucklandSee more here
Luxury with outdoor infinity poolWhitiangaSee more here
Glass house near the ocean RaglanSee more here
Lake retreatRotoruaSee more here

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10 of the very best Cafes on the North Island of New Zealand, because if there's two things New Zealand does best it's great coffee and even better views.
10 of the very best Cafes on the North Island of New Zealand, because if there's two things New Zealand does best it's great coffee and even better views.

14 Cafes with the best views on the South Island

Listing 14 of the best cafes on the South Island of New Zealand. From a historic building on the edge of Lake Wakatipu to a cafe next to an airport where you can watch fixed wing planes take off and land whilst you sip your hot brew. These are the very best cafes on the South Island!

If you’re on a South Island roadtrip you must include these awesome Cafes on your itinerary!

READ NEXT | 10 of the best Cafes on the North Island

The Boat Shed, Frankton

On the shores of Lake Wakatipu, just a 10 minute drive from Queenstown is the gorgeous history-rich Boat Shed. The building dates back to 1869 and was originally used as a store, over the years it fell into disrepair until 2011 when a group of volunteers began restoring it.

Personally, I live across the road from the Boat Shed and visit often for excellent coffee and brunch. They also serve lunch, or why not enjoy a beer or wine on the outside seating on a nice day.

Address | 847 Frankton Road, Frankton Marina 
Website |

Photo: Boatshed Cafe

Market Kitchen Cafe, Skyline Gondola, Queenstown

Easily the best views in Queenstown, high up above the town. You need to ride the famous Skyline Gondola to get here – the gondola ticket is pricey so ensure you make a day of it and go for a walk and indulge in a fun luge ride. At the cafe ensure you take a seat outside on the balcony for the view. They serve good coffee and hot food and cakes.

Website | see here

skyline gondola queenstown
The view from the Skyline, Queenstown

Kinloch Lodge Cafe, Kinloch

Located in Kinloch a 20 minute drive from Glenorchy and on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. Open for breakfast and dinner only, reservations are recommended. Excellent coffee, and locally sourced produce makes this a must-stop near Queenstown. 

Address | 862 Kinloch Rd, Kinloch, Glenorchy 

Website |

kinloch new zealand
Kinloch jetty

Grain & Seed Cafe, Cromwell

A charming, locally-run cafe right by Lake Dunstan in the Cromwell Heritage Precinct. Serving great coffee, yummy sandwiches and other lunch items. Take a seat by the window and look out onto the lake.

Address | Old Cromwell Town, Melmore Terrace Phone | 03 445 1077

Facebook | click here

Water Bar, Wanaka

On a sunny day or any day for that matter, you can’t beat the view from here. Right across the road from Lake Wanaka – Water Bar can get very busy in the evenings (especially at happy hour) due to the epic sunsets over the lake the area is blessed with. But during the day, it has a more chilled vibe. Make sure to get a seat outside. Serving pub-style food, drinks and of course coffee. 

Address | 145 Ardmore Street, Wanaka 

Website |

Photo: Water Bar

Astro Cafe, Lake Tekapo

On the summit of Mount John, you can drive up to the Cafe or walk from town the path starts from the small carpark next to the ice rink in Tekapo. The walk takes about 90 minutes round-trip. At the Astro Cafe you will be rewarded with an excellent view of Mount Cook and the other stunning scenery of the Mackenzie region.

Astro café offers a wide selection of drinks and barista-made coffee. To eat there’s a range of savoury and sweet options to suit everyone. Their Saturn themed cappuccino and popular carrot cake are always a favourite amongst visitors, although nothing compares to the views on offer!

Address | Astro Café is located at the summit Ōtehīwai, Mt John. Access is from Godley Peaks Road, off State Highway 8 between Tekapo and Lake Pukaki. An $8 per car road-user fee applies (payable at gate – cash, EFTPOS and Alipay available). This fee contributes to the ongoing maintenance of the access road.

Website |

Pink Glider Cafe, Omarama

Tucked away down next to the airport in Omarama. Sit outside and watch the small planes take off and land. When the planes aren’t taking off, it is gorgeously quiet. The service is super-friendly and food-wise there are lots of hot and cold selections. Great coffee too of course. 

Address | 68 Airport Road, Omarama 

Website | See Facebook page here

Photo: Pink Glider Cafe

Cafe Saint Clair, Saint Clair, Dunedin

Attached to the Salt Water pools at the edge of stunning Saint Clair beach. With gorgeous sea views, the Cafe offers light food items and coffee. Make sure to take a long stroll along Saint Clair beach after and spot the surfers and maybe even some seals if you’re lucky.

Address | 1 Second Beach Road, Saint Clair 

Phone | 03 455 8463

Saint Clair beach at sunset

Point Cafe & Bar, Kaka Point

Right beside the sea in Kaka Point a little town on the Northern edge of the Catlins. The town gets a lot of tourists due to its close proximity to the famed Nugget Point Lighthouse. At the Point Cafe they pride themselves on the freshness of their seafood, but if you don’t fancy seafood they will cater for all tastebuds. They also serve locally brewed beer from Norman MacLeod, Catlins Brewery.

Address | 58 Esplanade, Kaka Point 

Website |

the point cafe kaka point
Photo: The Point Cafe, Kaka Point

Moeraki Boulders Cafe

With panoramic views from the restaurant across to the picturesque Moeraki village and down to the Moeraki Boulders. Serving a varied selection from gourmet sandwiches and ‘New Zealand’s best’ seafood chowder. There’s also a cosy open fire for those colder days.

Address | 7 Moeraki Boulders Rd, Palmerston 

Website |

Moeraki Boulders cafe
Photo: Moeraki Boulders cafe

Jellyfish Cafe, Mapua

A seaside Cafe right on the jetty in Mapua, the views from here are honestly million dollar worthy. Serving up fresh seafood and other yummy items such as burgers, gnocchi and salad. And not forgetting excellent coffee. This place is extremely popular with locals & reservations are recommended for dinner.

Address | Shed 1, Mapua Wharf, Nelson

Website | click here

Jellyfish cafe mapua
Jellyfish Cafe, Mapua

Galley Cafe, Oamaru

Situated right on the waters edge in scenic Oamaru and right next to a playground for the kids. This family-friendly Cafe serves up breakfast, lunch & dinner and a cabinet filled with yummy homemade goodies if you’re after something lighter. Excellent coffee too!

Address | 1 Esplanade, Oamaru

Facebook | click here

The Galley Cafe, Oamaru
The Galley Cafe, Oamaru

Gebbies Garden Cafe, Christchurch

Serving up great coffee, baked goods and lunch in the peaceful countryside on the way to Akaroa from Christchurch. With a lovely fireplace for those colder days. Also worth noting is it caters well for gluten-free clients. A top recommendation from other diners is to try the Salmon Eggs Benedict! This is a family-friendly Café and a great stop after a hectic day of family-friendly activities in Christchurch.

Address | 1683 Christchurch Akaroa Road 

Website |

Gebbies Garden Cafe
Photo: Gebbies Garden Cafe

Sign of the Kiwi, Christchurch

High up off the main road, with an excellent view of Port Hill, Lyttleton Harbour and the Christchurch area. The drive up is winding and steep – so keep your eyes on the road. The Sign of the Kiwi cafe is located in an old stone building, steeped in history. Serving up hot and cold drinks, baked goods as well as hot breakfast and lunch items. Ensure to take a walk on the Harry Ell walk and beyond the cafe to the top  of Sugarloaf.

Address | 2057 Summit Road, Christchurch 

Website| Facebook page here

And there you have it 14 of the very best cafes on the South Island of New Zealand – all with excellent views and brews. Tell me – did I forget anywhere from this list? I’d love to hear if I have in the comment section below!

Here are the very best airbnb’s on the South Island

Fancy a unique stay on the South Island? Well, these are the absolute coolest airbnb’s I’ve ever seen. Honestly, click on the links below to see them in all their glory!

airbnb namewherebook
High Country CabinOhau, OtagoSee more here
Luxury GlampingMoke Lake, QueenstownSee more here
Stay on the steepest street in the worldDunedinSee more here
Modern beachside studioChristchurchSee more here
Cozy tree houseFranz JosefSee more here

READ NEXT | 24 hours in Queenstown on a budget

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Listing 12 of the best cafes on the South Island of New Zealand. From a historic building on the edge of Lake Wakatipu to a cafe on an airport.

How to find the Milford Sound Swing

Ah, the Milford Sound swing – you’ve probably seen the gorgeous photos on your Instagram feed. That’s how I first came across it. The Milford Sound swing has the most epic view of Mitre Peak and the surrounding Milford landscape. So, I was obviously very keen to check it out on our recent visit to Milford Sound.

The Milford Swing can be quite hard to find with no signposts anywhere

Did you know the Milford Sound swing is actually quite hard to find, it’s not signposted or anything. I guess, the locals want to keep it kind of a secret. The story goes that a local worker made this swing for his girlfriend, so she could enjoy it on her days off. Now, that’s pretty sweet!

After doing a quick google search, the directions to the swing were still a little unclear to us. So, when we got off our cruise we asked one of the staff and she gave us detailed directions, even drawing us a little map on a piece of paper.

READ NEXT | the best Milford Sound Cruise: our experience

How we found the Milford Sound Swing

From the carpark (not the coach carpark) the actual carpark, cross the road and enter the start of the Milford Foreshore Walk. Walk to the left, away from the Cruise boats. After several steps you will cross a wooden bridge. Keep walking for 5 minutes and keep a lookout to your right, through the trees you will see the swing. It’s on a sandy patch jutting out into the water, towards Mitre Peak. We walked through the trees to the sandy area. You will see the swing in front of you just keep following your line of sight.

Here’s a map of where the Milford Sound Swing is located –

We were lucky because there wasn’t a soul around when we visited. Meaning we could enjoy the swing and take our time with photographs. We visited the Milford Sound swing at mid-day, when most people are on their cruise.

milford sound swing
milford sound swing

Some points to note about the Milford Sound Swing –

  • Wear closed-toe shoes, the sandy area you have to walk across can be very wet
  • Bring insect repellent, there are lots of sandflies in Milford Sound
  • We recommend walking the rest of the Foreshore Walk, it only takes an extra 10 minutes and there are some great photo opportunities.
  • If you get lost, please go back to the Visitor Centre and ask one of the staff members there. They will be more than happy to assist.
milford sound swing

And there you have it our detailed directions to the famous Milford Sound swing. I hope you found it helpful. Be sure to take lots of photographs when you visit. Also worth noting is that bad weather can hinder a great photo so be sure to check the weather forecast in advance.

Our recommendations for Te Anau (the closest town to Milford Sound)

If you fancy spending the night in Te Anau, we highly recommend Kingsgate Hotel. It is situated just a two-minute walk into Te Anua & conveniently Lake Te Anau is across the road. Be sure to watch sunset on Lake Te Anau.

The restaurant options in Te Anau are surprisingly good. We loved Paradiso Pizzeria an authentic Italian with excellent wood-fired pizzas. We also loved Bao Now a food-truck serving delicious Vietnamese fare.

Tell me: have you been to Milford Sound before? Did you manage to find the Milford Sound Swing, I’d love to hear about your experience in the comment section below.

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The famous Milford Sound swing, a secret spot that can be difficult to find. Here are our detailed directions to this magical place.
The famous Milford Sound swing, a secret spot that can be difficult to find. Here are our detailed directions to this magical place.

Which Milford Sound Cruise should I choose?

There are many things you should take into consideration before deciding on the best Milford Sound Cruise for you. Milford Sound is one of the most beautiful & dramatic places in the world. In fact, Rudyard Kipling re-named it the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’. Milford Sound is New Zealand’s number one tourist attraction, attracting over 800,000 visitors a year. Which seems like nothing in comparison to tourist-heavy cities like Bangkok, London & New York. But Milford Sound is very remote and as a result quite difficult to get to. If you’ve visited, you will understand what a feat it is to get 800,000 visitors in and out of Milford Sound every year.

We self-drove to Milford Sounds via Te Anau this past weekend. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for us. The weather was moody and slightly rainy – just the way we wanted it as it made our photos all the more epic. We also made the decision to stay the night in Te Anau so we could catch an early cruise. With Te Anau being only an hour & 40 minute drive from Milford Sound. Spending the night here made it a relatively stress-free journey for us. We do not recommend driving from Queenstown and back in one day. The drive is simply too long at over 8 hours return.

Anyway, we wanted to let you in on what were the most important factors to us when deciding on our Milford Sound cruise. There are lots of options, so you’re spoiled for choice.

You can read more about the drive from Te Anau to Milford Sound here

Do you want to be on a small or large boat for your Milford Sound cruise?

We were looking for a more intimate experience and so decided on Mitre Peak Cruises. Mitre Peak Cruises have a maximum capacity of 75 guests. We were lucky as there were only 30 people on our cruise. Bliss! It’s a smaller boat meaning you can get up close and personal with the waterfalls as well as Milford’s famous seal residents. It’s also a 2-hour cruise, in comparison to the 90-minute cruise time of most other operators.

If you want a larger boat we recommend Go Orange or Real Journeys.

milford sound cruise
milford sound waterfall
milford sound cruise new zealand

Opt for the morning Milford Sound Cruise

Beat the coach crowds and catch the early cruises which depart between 9 and 11am. Morning cruises pretty much guarantee smaller numbers. The majority of the coaches come from Queenstown and don’t reach Milford until after 12pm. So, the afternoon cruises are usually jam-packed. From our experience, when we first walked into the cruise terminal at 9:30am there were maybe 50 or so other guests waiting around. When we came off our cruise at 11:30am there were at least 300 people lining up to board the waiting boats.

milford sound cruise
couple travel, milford sound

Stay the night in Te Anau or Milford village to beat the crowds

We spent the night before our cruise in the pretty lakeside town of Te Anau and we highly recommend doing this. Te Anau really surprised us, there are lots of great food options in the town and it had a lovely laid-back vibe. We stayed at the Kingsgate Hotel along the lakefront and loved it!

Did you know Milford Sound is the wettest inhabited place in New Zealand and one of the wettest places in the world. Averaging 182 days of rain every year.

milford sound new zealand
seal milford sound

We are so glad we finally made it to Milford Sound after living in nearby Queenstown for over a year. We took lots of photos, ate some great food in Te Anau and really enjoyed the scenic drive from Te Anau to Milford.

Mitre Peak Cruises was the perfect choice for us – not crowded and quite a personalized experience given the smaller sized boat. The Captain was also really knowledgeable telling us lots of unique facts about the area over the speaker. Plus, there was free tea & coffee on board!

Tell me have you been to Milford Sound? If so, what cruise did you pick? We would love to hear about your experience in the comment section.

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milford sound cruise guide