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8 Fiordland experiences you can’t miss

Famed for our incredible network of hiking trails, wildlife sightings and vast, epic scenery Fiordland sits high on many New Zealand road trip itineraries.

Date 06 Jan 2021

However we are more than just the above. We have incredible, once in a lifetime experiences nestled here in the National Park, ran by our local people who are very passionate about their backyard. Continuing strong with our Great Eight theme we want to introduce you to eight unmissable experiences here in Fiordland National Park.

Wings & Water – Scenic floatplane

Fly in Fiordland’s only seaplane. With scenic flight paths covering most of the National Park, including Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound, Wings & Water can show you the true scale of the national park below. Land in secluded coves and near beaches to soak up the solitude and silence deep in Fiordland. The mystery flight option is a true delight, especially if your flight takes you over the wild Dusky Sound. Immerse yourself at a remote location with an extra beach landing, amazing photo opportunities and time to relax await.

For other scenic flight options see our aviation directory here.

Wings and water - Lake Te Anau

Scale the Summit

To explore one of the best-loved wilderness environments in New Zealand and scale one of Fiordland’s iconic peaks is best done on foot. This full-day hike starts from Te Anau town with a water taxi ride across Lake Te Anau dropping you at the start of your adventure. Take the slow and steady climb through native bush, winding up to views of Lake Manapouri and Te Anau down below. Stop for a break in the iconic Luxmore Hut, part of the Kepler Track Great Walk bookable huts before embarking on the summit mission. Just shy of a two-hour climb will reward you with 360-degree panoramic views of the Kepler, Murchison mountains, and the South arm of Lake Te Anau. Slowly walk back to Brod Bay where your water taxi transport will be waiting. The ultimate day hike, with the ultimate reward.
The Luxmore Summit day hike can be enjoyed solo or part of a guided hike. Find out more about helicopter transfers and guided walks here.

Luxmore Summit - Roady NZ & Fiordland Outdoors Co

Lake Te Anau lake cruise

We rush to our famous fiords to cruise but how about a cruise right here in town, over New Zealand’s second-largest lake. With the Kepler and Murchison mountains providing the ultimate backdrop let the historic Faith of Fiordland transport you across the lake for a scenic cruise you will never forget. Faith is a 19.7 metre, wooden motor-sailer, built in 1935 in Scotland. She served in WW2, hosted Sir Winston Churchill, has sailed all over the world, and now calls Lake Te Anau and Fiordland National Park her home.

For all cruise options in Lake Te Anau and Fiordland click here.

Kayak the sounds

Nothing will give you a greater perspective of how grand and majestic our fiords are than from the helm of your very own sea kayak. Join a guided paddle journey through the sounds where you will witness the waterfalls, nature, and sheer size of both Milford and Doubtful Sound, at sea level. If you are really lucky the resident dolphins or seals may join you as you paddle under the watchful eye of Mitre Peak. This half-day guided tour will lead you through the most scenic parts of the sound and the guide will provide you all the facts and knowledge you need to educate yourself about the area.
With guide tours in both Milford and Doubtful Sound and kayaking included on overnight charter adventures, click here to find out more.

Milford Sound Kayaking - Go Orange

Cycle the Lake 2 Lake cycle trail

This beautiful, scenic cycle trail runs from Lake Te Anau towards Lake Manapouri. The trail is around 19km, meeting up with the Upper Waiau River, soon to be extended to Manapouri. The trail ends at Balloon Loop but don’t let your adventure stop there. You can organise a jet boat pick up from the end and arrive back in town in style. If you are looking for the ultimate cycling experience in the Fiordland area then look no further. The route is beautiful, well-marked, and easy to follow.
You can find many bike hire and transport options right here in Te Anau. Find your options here.

Lake2Lake trail - Martin Silva

Jet Boat down the Waiau River

Did you know the Waiau River that connects Lake Te Anau to Lake Manapouri is the largest river in the Southland Region of New Zealand? ‘Waiau’ translates to ‘River of Swirling currents’ and it also had a stint in the Lord of the Rings first film as the fictional River Anduin. Why not hop on board a jet boat and be wowed by the beautiful scenery, Jet boat down the crystal clear waters of the Waiau and see one of Fiordland’s most scenic locations.
You can also opt for fishing charters on the Waiau River. All river adventures can be found here.

Cruise in the sounds

Cruising in Milford or Doubtful Sound is one of New Zealand’s must-do activities. 2-3 hour cruises depart for scenic nature cruise around the world-famous fiords. Keep your eye out for the dusky and bottlenose dolphin pods who love to ride the bow waves of the boats. Watch for seals basking on the rocks and if you are really lucky you might catch a Fiordland Crested Penguin hopping around near the mouth of the Fiord. When she rains, she pours and the fiords truly come alive on wet weather days. 1000’s of temporary waterfalls cascade from the towering peaks, giving the fiord a true sense of power and scale.

Drive the Milford Road

The road between Te Anau and Milford Sound is said to be one of the most scenic drives in the world, and they are not wrong. There are plenty of photo opportunities, short walks, and viewpoints. It is worth taking the extra time to explore the landscape, do a short nature walk to Lake Gunn, or see the mirror lakes on route. We also have a couple of Kea hotspots that our cheeky alpine parrot residents like to frequent. Monkey Creek and the Homer Tunnel are to name a few. Enjoy this scenic drive, take your time and let Fiordland show you what it’s all about… beyond beautiful.

Milford Sound - Graham Dainty

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