Te Anau - Gateway to Fiordland
Te Anau and Manapouri: Gateways to Milford Sound
For the best Milford Sound experience, base yourself from Te Anau or Manapouri and enjoy a few nights deep the heart of Fiordland.
The South Island of New Zealand is among the world's most scenic travel destinations and the dramatic landscapes surrounding both Te Anau and Manapouri epitomise this reputation. Te Anau is set against the grand backdrop of the Murchison Mountains on the shores of Lake Te Anau – New Zealand’s largest. Twenty minutes south, Manapouri is surrounded by lush rainforest and mountains and also sits on the edge of a lake. Both towns make a great base from which to explore spectacular Milford Sound.
Departing from Te Anau in the morning, take a coach ride along the Milford Road so you can relax and soak up what many call one of the most spectacular drives in the country. Arriving at around 10.30am, you'll have Milford Sound to yourself for a few hours before the other coaches arrive from Queenstown.
Beat the crowds for the ultimate Milford Sound experience
Described by famous British author Rudyard Kipling as 'the Eighth natural wonder of the world,’ Milford Sound is a remote wilderness that justifiably commands such a title. The Sound itself is a deep fiord, carved into solid granite by an immense ancient glacier. Today, the Tasman Sea has replaced the great ice flow and towering granite cliffs rise from the ocean while majestic waterfalls tumble to the sea from heights reaching 160m (525ft). The iconic Mitre Peak rises 1692m (5551ft) from the inky blue waters which are also a playground for marine life including seals, dolphins and penguins. Grab your camera and get out on the water with a boat cruise in the morning - it's the best way to enjoy the spiritual ambience and unique sights before many others arrive.
Staying amidst the beautiful landscapes of Te Anau of Manapouri gives you time to get up and enjoy your day on Milford Sound - at your leisure, and without having to spend more than half your day travelling. A range of accommodation and dining options in both towns provide something for everyone. Stay a few nights - there's plenty more to do and see while you are here.
In Maori, the name Te Anau translates to 'caves of swirling water' and the amazing Te Anau Glow Worm Caves are the town's namesake. This hidden underground wonderland was, for many years, a place lost in Maori legend until explorer Lawson Burrows rediscovered them in 1948. These 12,000 year old caves feature breathtaking limestone formations, whirlpools, an underground waterfall and the best glow worm viewing in the South Island.
For fly fishing enthusiasts, Fiordland’s rivers teem with trout and are famous for world-class fishing adventures. Kayaking and sailing adventures on stunning Lake Manapouri make for a great way to get out on the water.
A walking and hiking paradise
Three of New Zealand’s Great Walks can be found in Fiordland – the Milford, the Kepler and the Routeburn; and all of these multi-day hikes are spectacular in their own unique ways. Lush forests, panoramic views, thriving bird life and magnificent waterfalls make any of these tracks a must-do for keen hikers. Either Te Anau or Manapouri make for a great place to stay before or after a hiking adventure.
As well as these multi-day hikes, a range of day walks showcase the region’s lakes, rainforests and alpine vistas for those with limited time or ability.
Dining opportunities in both Te Anau or Manapouri are delicious. Don't miss trying quintessential local delicacies including succulent cuts of venison, lamb and terrific, freshly caught lobster.
A few days in the heart of Fiordland are the perfect way to truly soak up the beauty of this special region. Enjoy Milford Sound without the rush; take a kayaking tour or spend a day hiking. Enjoy nights in quality accommodation and feast on fresh seafood or venison. Use Te Anau or Manapouri as a base for all your Fiordland adventures – your time here promises to be a highlight of your New Zealand holiday.