Kayaking Doubtful
Explore Fiordland's diverse and undiscovered pockets.
Kayaking Doubtful Sound - Credit - Real Journeys

Now is the time to move Fiordland from your wish list, and onto your to-do list.  One of the world’s most desired destinations is available for New Zealanders to enjoy - all to yourself.

With spring in the air, Fiordland is alive!  

Lupins burst with colour along roads and riverbeds.  Fresh snow dusts the towering mountains.  Waterfalls rush from sheer cliff faces and resident wildlife continue to flourish in their sedate and secretive environment.  With summer approaching, the days are longer, and Fiordland is brimming with authentic outdoor pursuits.  Traverse into the wilderness and explore Fiordland’s diverse and undiscovered pockets. 

Often referred to as the “Eighth Wonder of the World”, Fiordland’s obvious headliner is Milford Sound. 

Located 120km from the lakeside town Te Anau, journey along the Milford Road - one of the most beautiful alpine drives in the world.  The passage offers over 30 exceptional stops and attracts up to 400,000 visitors a year.  This summer is a little different.  There is no need to rush ahead of the crowds, the road is yours to enjoy in your own time - either independently or by driver and guide.  Experience Eglinton Valley, the result of a slow and steady glacial march.  Marvel at Mirror Lakes, a secret spot with a not-so-secret reputation.  Head through the Homer Tunnel, an essential underpass through solid rock.  Explore many of the roadside trails along the way or strap on your hiking boots and head deeper into the native bush.  Walk among the tawhairaunui forest at Lake Gunn or head for the heights at Gertrude Saddle.  Take to the greats with The Routeburn, Caples and Greenstone Tracks at your very doorstep.  An expert guide offers an in-depth discovery of our native flora, fauna and birdlife and a historical insight to the area.  For a completely unique experience, opt for an incredible helicopter excursion over mountains and rainforests to visit the region's untouched corners.  Discover fly-fishing in some of New Zealand’s bountiful waterways. With a highly skilled guide, fish at the edge of gin-clear rivers or move further into the wilderness by jet boat or helicopter for a complete backcountry experience. 

Once you have arrived in Milford Sound, the options continue to impress.

 Take a day cruise through the exceptionally landscaped fiord and enjoy onboard commentary with a personal touch.  Cast your gaze towards the sky to witness the sheer rock faces and cascading waterfalls.  Sail to the entrance of the Tasman Sea for a chance to view native Fur Seal, Bottlenose Dolphin and Fiordland Crested Penguin.  Elevate your experience with an overnight option; cruise the fiord at sunset and wake up to the sound of native Tui, Weka and perhaps the cheeky Kea.  Move around the edge of the Sound on a breath-taking kayaking excursion or dive in Milford’s unique eco system of deep-water emergent black coral trees.  Dubbed 'the finest walk in the world' take the opportunity to finally experience the Milford Track - without the crowds.

Returning along the same road, watch the late afternoon’s hues transform the dramatic scenery as you approach Te Anau.  Known as the “the Basecamp of Fiordland”, this picturesque township is positioned neatly between Queenstown and Milford Sound providing the perfect central hub for exploring and relaxing.  With a population of 3000 and tourism as their central focus, the residents specialise in showcasing their National Park.  Begin with a peaceful cruise across Lake Te Anau and visit the mysterious caves that house hundreds of luminous glowworms.  Take a stroll around the south edge of the lake to the Te Anau Bird Sanctuary, home to many native and endangered birdlife including the Takahe.  Continue along bush fringed bays to the control gates for incredible views of the Jackson Peaks and Kepler Mountains.  Ascend 1472m to the top of Mount Luxmore, the first leg of the Kepler Track.  To truly appreciate the size and scale of the glacial carved valleys, fiords, and mountain ranges, get into the sky.  A swift and scenic helicopter flight will have you at a remote mountain lake, enjoying a gourmet picnic lunch and glass of champagne.  Take the opportunity to hike among the heavens on a guided heli-hike or charter the helicopter for a magnificent photography tour.  Circle the sounds by fixed wing plane or land on the lake in the South Island’s only seaplane.

Connecting Lakes Te Anau and Manapouri is the wide and wonderful Waiua River.  A popular Lord of the Rings film location, spin downstream by jet boat or cycle along the riverbed.  The river is resident to Rainbow and Brown Trout and the best fishing is done off the side of a jet boat.  At the end of the river, meet the charming town of Manapouri.  Formed by glaciers, Lake Manapouri is host to many islands, coves, beaches, and lagoons providing a stunning location for boat tours, kayaking and paddle boarding.  And tucked into the West Arm of the lake is the Manapouri Power Station, the largest hydroelectric station in New Zealand. 

No visit to Fiordland is complete without visiting Doubtful Sound, ‘the Sound of Silence’. 

Cruise to the West Arm of Lake Manapouri and journey over the Wilmot Pass to this giant fiord.  Over ten times larger than Milford Sound, experience the magnitude of isolation as you glide through the empty passages.  Smaller vessels offer overnight stays and an intimate encounter with nature.  Learn of the history and explore the environs with a local skipper.  Anchor up at sunset and enjoy home cooked crayfish for dinner, a glass of local wine and stargazing on deck. 

Te Anau and Manapouri offer an extensive range of accommodation options, from luxury lodges and high-end apartments to inviting hotels and motels.  Camping and backpacker hostels are exceptional in Te Anau and no matter your style, all are complete with a beautiful location and outstanding hospitality.  Food is an integral part to Fiordland and local restaurants are dedicated to sourcing the finest, freshest, local produce.  Bordering the famous Central Otago vineyards, eateries and bars pay homage to their neighbour’s wines and ales.  Enjoy a glass at the local cinema and see the spectacular scenery in Fiordland’s film, Ata Whenua.

To many overseas guests, Fiordland is a once in a lifetime, bucket list destination.  Steeped in rich and dramatic scenery, the region offers a multitude of experiences and activities for all. 

This summer, it’s all yours and it will not disappoint.  It truly is beyond belief.

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