Camping In Milford Sound | 10 Epic Campsites & How To Choose

No New Zealand road trip is complete without a visit to the world-famous Milford Sound in Fiordland National Park. Largely untouched by humans, this southwest pocket of untamed natural beauty attracts countless travellers each year. And the best way to truly immerse yourself in the raw and rugged landscape is by camping in Milford Sound.

Luckily, camping in Milford Sound is made easy with ten stunning campsites scattered throughout the deep valleys and mountain streams, starting from Te Anau and going all the way to the foreshore of Milford Sound. The only problem you’ll face is deciding which Milford Sound campsite to choose!

But don’t worry, we’ve got your back. On our recent visit to Fiordland National Park, we stopped in at each campsite along Milford Road to compare amenities, views and experiences. So no matter if you’re a first-time camper or a seasoned ‘vanlifer’, you’ll find handy information within this post to help you choose the best Milford Sound campsite for you.

Milford Sound Fiord on a dark moody day while on the Souther Discoveries Cruise and Kayak Tour

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Essential Things To Know For Your Milford Sound Camping Trip

There Is No Free Camping In Milford Sound

Unfortunately, there is no freedom camping anywhere near Milford Sound. The closest freedom camp is 2 hrs 30 minutes from the Milford Sound foreshore at Lumsden or Lake Monowai. 

Lumsden is a small town east of Te Anau with free camping options for non-self-contained and self-contained campers at the train station. However, camping in tents is not allowed. Monowai Campsite is located south of Te Anau and is a peaceful, free DOC campsite located beside the lake.

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How To Pay For The DOC Campsites In Milford Sound

Of the 10 Milford Road campsites, 8 are managed by the Department of Conservation (DOC) and cost NZD $15 per night per person. Except for Cascade Creek, which requires an online booking in advance, all the DOC campsites operate on a ‘first-come-first-served’ basis and only accept cash payments – you’ll find ATMs in Te Anau only.

We recommend pre-purchasing a DOC Campsite Pass for the best value for money and convenience. This pass, available for one month or a year, allows unlimited access to most DOC campsites across New Zealand. And the best part is, you only need to spend 8 nights in DOC campsites to make this pass worthwhile.

Note: The prices listed are as of July 2023.

Open valley view from Totara Campsite

Pack Bug Spray

I cannot stress this enough – the sandflies are no joke! Even on a dry and crisp autumn afternoon, we were attacked by a swarm of hungry sandflies who went to town on our exposed ankles.

Unfortunately, DEET is the only thing we found that truly works to prevent these annoying little creatures from snacking on your skin. But please, if you have an alternative option, we’d love to be enlightened!

Fill Up With Fuel And Groceries In Te Anau

There are no fuel stations on the road to Milford Sound, with Te Anau being the last stop to top up. You’ll drive a minimum of 236 km on your adventure to Milford Sound, more if you plan to return to the foreshore multiple times or if you want to visit other locations such as Lake Marian or Humboldt Falls.

Grab your groceries from Te Anau before you leave for Milford Sound as well. Aside from a small selection of basic grocery staples at Eglinton Valley Camp, there are no shops between Te Anau and Milford Sound. At Milford Sound, you’ll find a cafe at the Discover Milford Sound Information Centre and the Pio Pio Restaurant in Milford Sound Lodge.

The Mobile Phone Coverage Has Been Upgraded On Milford Road

Cascade Creek Campsite, closest campground to Milford Sound

We recently returned to Milford Sound and were surprised to find some of the campsites now have phone service from both Spark and One NZ. This is quite handy as once you’re camping in Milford Sound, it’s a long trek back to civilisation if you need to change plans or check the weather.

The most reliable source of phone reception we found is at The Divide Car Park – where the Routeburn Track and Key Summit Track begin. Furthermore, you will find enough service to load the weather or read your emails at some of the campsites in Milford Sound – we will include this information in the list below.

Other Things To Note For Camping In Milford Sound

  • No pets are allowed at any of the campsites below, as they’re all located within Fiordland National Park
  • Campfires are only permitted in some campsites if there is no fire ban and must be lit in the firepits provided – find out whether there is a fire ban in your location of choice here
  • There is no treated water at any of the campsites; if you’re not used to drinking directly from streams, then it’s best to boil the water first or use a water filtration system
  • Check the road status if you’re driving Milford Rd during winter; there can be a risk of avalanches near the road, and snow chains are often required
  • A camp warden monitors the 8 DOC campsites located along Milford Rd, especially during the busy summer season

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10 Epic Campsites In Milford Sound

Now that we’ve taken care of logistics, let’s dive into discussing the 10 amazing campsites in Milford Sound. To make it easier for you, we’ve listed the campsites in order of location along Milford Road, starting with the closest to Te Anau.

Henry Creek Campsite

Location: Henry Creek
Fees/Bookings: NZD $15 per person per night (can use DOC Campsite Pass), first-come-first-served, cash only
Toilets: Yes, non-flush
Bins: No
Power: No
Water: Yes, from stream
Campfires: No
Phone Reception: No
Most suitable For: Campervans, camping trailers and caravans

Henry Creek Campsite with campervans parked for the night

Located just 20 minutes north of Te Anau, Henry Creek is the first campsite you’ll come across on Milford Rd. Tucked into the dense beech forest, this campsite offers private sites perfect for small to medium-sized campervans.

While Henry Creek Campsite can squeeze up to 40 camping set-ups within the woods bordering Lake Te Anau’s pebbly banks, it may not be ideal for tents due to the rocky and often wet ground. It is, however, an excellent oasis for hot summer days, providing ample shade and opportunities for swimming.

Walker Creek Campsite

Location: Walker Creek
Fees/Bookings: NZD $15 per person per night (can use DOC Campsite Pass), first-come-first-served, cash only
Toilets: Yes, non-flush
Bins: No
Power: No
Water: Yes, from stream
Campfires: Yes, in designated fire pits
Phone Reception: Yes
Most suitable For: Campervans and tents

Walker Creek small bush camp in Milford Sound

Walker Creek Campsite is one of the smallest campgrounds in Milford Sound, accommodating just 5 camp set-ups. While it doesn’t boast quite as magnificent mountainous views as the campsites further north along Milford Road, Walker Creek appeals to those seeking privacy and minimal neighbours.

The few secluded campsites are tucked into the small band of tangled beech forests between the road and the Eglinton River. Walker Creek is most suited to campervans, though it does have one or two flat spots that will work for tents.

Totara Campsite

Location: Totara
Fees/Bookings: NZD $15 per person per night (can use DOC Campsite Pass), first-come-first-served, cash only
Toilets: Yes, non-flush
Bins: No
Power: No
Water: Yes, from stream
Campfires: Yes, in designated fire pits
Phone Reception: Yes
Most suitable For: Campervans, camping trailers, caravans and tents

Totara Campsite on a Beautiful Winter Day

Totara Campsite may not look like much from the highway, but the dirt road winds out of sight through a cluster of beech trees to end in a vast field beside the Eglinton River. Tenters are spoilt for choice, with plenty of premium grassy locations to choose from, and the open valley provides ample space for large caravans.

Although Totara Campsite has plenty of space, it only accommodates 20 camp set-ups. This provides the perfect balance between a peaceful stay and room to breathe. Plus, with a selection of sites sheltered by the beautiful beech forest, you can choose shade and protection from the elements.

Mackay Creek Campsite

Location: Mackay Creek
Fees/Bookings: NZD $15 per person per night (can use DOC Campsite Pass), first-come-first-served, cash only
Toilets: Yes, non-flush
Bins: No
Power: No
Water: Yes, from stream
Campfires: Yes, in designated fire pits
Phone Reception: Yes
Most suitable For: Campervans, camping trailers and tents

Mackay Creek Campsite on a moody winter sunset

If you’re looking for a peaceful getaway with water access and the perfect blend between open fields and shady trees, you must check out Mackay Creek Campsite. This campground accommodates 15 camping set-ups and can be found in a grassy field beside Eglinton River. In summer, the fields spring to life with splashes of purple from the hordes of lupins lining the riverbanks.

Mackay Creek Campsite is 40 minutes north of Te Anau and has a few mediocre flat spaces to set up a tent but is a touch too small for large caravans. This campsite is most ideal for campervans and would be the ideal choice if you’re travelling with a group of friends as the sites are mainly situated in a circle. But you better get in early, because this is a favourite in summer!

Note: As of September 2023, Mackay Creek Campsite is closed until further notice. Check the current status of this closure on the DOC website.

Deer Flat Campsite

Location: Deer Flat
Fees/Bookings: NZD $15 per person per night (can use DOC Campsite Pass), first-come-first-served, cash only
Toilets: Yes, non-flush, wheelchair accessible
Bins: No
Power: No
Water: Yes, from stream
Campfires: Yes, in designated fire pits
Phone Reception: Yes – patchy in the trees but good in the open
Most suitable For: Campervans, camping trailers, caravans and tents

Deer Flat Campground near Milford Sound New Zealand

If unobstructed views of snow-capped peaks and direct access to the river are what you’re searching for, then you’ll want to consider Deer Flat Campsite. This open campground spreads out on the banks of the Eglinton River in a grassy valley 45 minutes north of Te Anau.

Despite its spacious size, Deer Flat Campsite only fits up to 15 camp set-ups in the designated sites. Most of the sites are suitable for tents, however, Deer Flat is known to flood after heavy rain, so it’s best to check the ground’s dampness before deciding.

Eglinton Valley Cabins & Camping

Location: Eglinton Valley Cabins & Camping
Fees/Bookings: NZD $25 per person per night, book online
Toilets: Yes, plus hot showers
Bins: Yes
Power: For small electronics
Water: Yes
Campfires: Unknown
Phone Reception: Yes – Spark is more reliable
Most suitable For: Campervans, camping trailers, caravans and tents

Knob Flat Caravan Park at sunset

If a hot shower and kitchen facilities are high on your priority list, Eglinton Valley Camp has you covered. Only costing an extra $10 per person per night compared to the DOC campsites, this is a fantastic option for those that want a little more than just a basic camp.

The grassy sites are all equipped with a picnic bench and beautiful views across the valley to the dominating mountains in the west. And if the forecasted weather is bleak, you can opt to splurge on a self-contained cabin which begins at NZD $190 a night for two people.

Kiosk Creek Campsite

Location: Kiosk Creek
Fees/Bookings: NZD $15 per person per night (can use DOC Campsite Pass), first-come-first-served, cash only
Toilets: Yes, non-flush
Bins: No
Power: No
Water: No
Campfires: Yes, in designated fire pits
Phone Reception: Patchy – Spark is more reliable here
Most suitable For: Campervans, camping trailers, caravans and tents

Kiosk Creek Campground on Milford Sound Road

Kiosk Creek Campsite sits on a small rise across the creek from Eglinton Valley Camp, looking out upon the magnificent Earl Mountains. This is the only DOC campsite located on the eastern side of Milford Road, which could be handy if the Eglinton River was flooding.

You’ll find 10 grassy sites at Kiosk Creek, all backing onto the bordering forest of tall trees, which provides shade and protection from the rain. Another plus for Kiosk Creek is its close proximity to Eglinton Valley Camp, which has nicer public toilets you could use during the day and a tap to fill your water bottles.

Upper Eglinton Campsite

Location: Upper Eglinton
Fees/Bookings: NZD $15 per person per night (can use DOC Campsite Pass), first-come-first-served, cash only
Toilets: Yes, non-flush
Bins: No
Power: No
Water: Yes, from stream
Campfires: Yes, in designated fire pits
Phone Reception: No
Most suitable For: Campervans, camping trailers and small caravans

Upper Eglington forest Campsite in Milford Sound

Upper Eglinton is the smallest of the campsites in Milford Sound, accommodating just 3 set-ups in a peaceful little pocket of forest beside the road. If you can score a spot at Upper Eglington Campsite, you’re gifted with stellar views and the closest access to two advanced tramping tracks leading in the Earl Mountains.

While there is one potential spot to set up a tent, Upper Eglinton Campsite is best suited to campervans or small caravans. It wouldn’t be our first choice of campgrounds in Milford Sound due to its close proximity to the road, but if you want the least number of neighbours possible, this is the spot for you!

Cascade Creek Campsite

Location: Cascade Creek
Fees/Bookings: NZD $15 per person per night (can use DOC Campsite Pass), booking in advance required
Toilets: Yes, non-flush, wheelchair accessible
Bins: No
Power: No
Water: Yes, from stream
Campfires: Yes, in designated fire pits
Phone Reception: No
Most suitable For: Campervans, camping trailers, caravans and tents

Cascade Campground at sunset on a moody day in Milford Sound

Cascade Creek is by far the largest and most popular campsite in Milford Sound. The enormous campground has enough space for up to 120 camp set-ups in a sweeping valley flanked by towering snow-covered mountains.

While it’s not so appealing for those searching for peace and quiet, Cascade Creek Campsite is the closest option for popular day walks such as Key Summit, Gertrude Saddle and Lake Marian.

There is plenty of variety at Cascade Creek, from cosy forested campsites to large grassy sites with unobstructed views of the deep valley, some of which are located right on the river’s edge.

Milford Lodge Camping – Rainforest Campervan Park

Location: Milford Sound Lodge
Fees/Bookings: NZD $35 per person per night, book online
Toilets: Yes, hot showers
Bins: Yes
Power: Yes
Water: Yes
Campfires: Unknown
Phone Reception: No – wifi available at an extra cost
Most suitable For: Campervans

Milford Sound Lodge Campground drone image
Image sourced from Milford Sound Lodge

For the ultimate experience of camping in Milford Sound, why not stay right in the midst of the magical fiord at Milford Lodge’s Rainforest Campervan Park!? This is the only campground in Milford Sound and also the only option for a powered site. The only downside is that they only accommodate campervans.

While the price is creeping up there, costing $20 more per person than the DOC campsites in Milford Sound, you do have the luxury of showers, a large guest lounge and kitchen and the option to purchase wifi and do your laundry.

This is the best choice if you want to photograph the fiord at sunrise or have an early Milford Sound tour booked. But you must book the Rainforest Campervan Park well in advance as it is almost always booked out – especially in summer.

FAQs About Camping In Milford Sound

How Many Days Do I Need For Milford Sound?

We recommend allowing at least 2 to 3 days to explore the multitude of walks in Milford Sound and embark on a scenic Milford Sound Cruise. If you want to be close to all the action, the best campsite in Milford Sound is Cascade Creek.

Can You Sleep In Milford Sound?

You can camp in Milford Sound at Milford Lodge’s Rainforest Campervan Park. This rainforested campground is the closest you can get to the foreshore of Milford Sound and costs $35 per person per night. Alternatively, you can also book an overnight cruise which takes you out into the fiord where you’ll stay the night.

Can You Take A Campervan To Milford Sound?

Yes, the road into Milford Sound is suitable for campervans, and plenty of large car park spaces are available at the free Deepwater Basin Car Park – a 20-minute walk from the Milford Sound foreshore.

Is It Worth Staying At Milford Sound?

Whether you choose one of the DOC campsites along Milford Road or the magical Milford Lodge campervan park, it’s 100% worth staying in Milford Sound so you can truly embrace the incredible landscape and the many activities and walks available to you.

What Is The Closest City To Milford Sound?

The closest city to Milford Sound is Dunedin, located 5 hours southeast of Milford Sound. The closest town, however, is Te Anau, which is 118 km south of Milford Sound and takes roughly 2 – 2.5 hours.

Can You Freedom Camp In Te Anau?

There is no freedom camping in Te Anau. The closest place to camp for free is Lumsden or Lake Monowai.

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Final Thoughts

We hope this camping guide has helped you decide which Milford Sound campground to choose. Honestly, you can’t really go wrong as each one offers sensational views and has its own attributes. But if you’re looking for the perfect balance between peace, views and convenience, we recommend Deer Flat Campsite. That said, if close proximity to Milford Sound is your highest priority, you can’t beat Cascade Creek Campsite.

Have you had the pleasure of camping at one of these magical campsites? We’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below. And as always, if you have any questions remaining, please feel free to contact us!

Happy Adventuring 🙂