The picturesque drive between Queenstown and Te Anau is a 170-kilometre trip that without stops takes just over 2 hours. But you know what they say, it’s the journey that makes the trip and this is a road trip where you definitely need to stop and check out these gems to fully appreciate the epic drive.
Date 29 Jun 2021
The little lakeside settlement of Kingston, near the southern end of Lake Wakatipu, is the ideal first spot to stop, stretch your legs and take in the magnificent views of the snow-capped mountains and striking emerald blue lake.
Kingston is also the finishing point for the 3-5-day Around the Mountain Cycle Trail. Dubbed "New Zealand's most beautiful cycle path," and it is without a doubt one of the greatest cycle trails around.
2. Welcome Rock:
Welcome Rock Trails is a premium private hiking and mountain bike path that provides history and ecological significance. This hand-built 27km trail follows the old gold miner’s water races nestled amid secluded, native high-country farms and surrounded by breathtaking scenery. Rustic cottages can be booked along the route sporting views overlooking the Eyre Valley and each has an outside tub to relax in after a long day.
3. Coffee Bomb:
For our coffee fans travelling through Garston, the Coffee Bomb's gleaming silver bullet is not to be missed! New Zealand’s most inland food truck serves fresh Southland roasted coffee and its Bacon & Egg Muffin is a famous comfort item to warm the body and soul.
4. Five Rivers Café and Art Gallery:
Fitted out in a country rustic style, the Five Rivers Cafe uses locally sourced produce and offers a superb selection of homemade baking. Enjoy a New Zealand wine or beer while you appreciate the scenic view of the mountains from the garden bar in summer or sitting on a comfy leather couch beside a roaring fire in winter. There is also a small art gallery as well as some friendly farm animals outside the cafe for guests to pet, including a kune kune pig, alpacas, a miniature horse, a goat, a dog, and larger ponies.
The deer capital of New Zealand, Mossburn is a small town with stunning mountain views all around. This is a great stop to refuel both the car and your tummy. If you are looking to try some renowned Fiordland venison, then pop into the Bracken Hall Cafe and grab yourself one of their famous venison pies.
6. Mavora Lakes:
Mavora Lakes Reserve is the perfect side trip on your way to Fiordland. Part of the Te Wahipounamu UNESCO World Heritage Area, the Park boasts impressive landscapes of snow-capped mountains, spectacular lakes, native forests, and tussock grassland. There are a number of short to overnight tracks that are great for varying walking abilities.
7. Te Anau Lion Lookout Point:
Just before you reach Te Anau take a short 3-minute detour to the Te Anau Lion Lookout Point. Offering spectacular 360-degree views of high country farms, the Kepler and Murchison mountain ranges and Lake Te Anau, it is the perfect preamble before arriving in Te Anau, Fiordland National Park
8. Te Anau:
The spectacular Mt Luxmore and Murchison mountains provide an awe-inspiring backdrop for the picturesque lakeside township of Te Anau - an ideal base for exploring Fiordland. Boasting a wide range of activities on or off the water, fine restaurants and luxury accommodation - as well as Fiordland's most luminous inhabitants at the Te Anau Glowworm Caves - Te Anau is a dream destination. Make sure to check out the rare flightless Takahē at Punanga Manu o Te Anau, Te Anau’s Bird Sanctuary. For those looking for some leisurely exercise, the Lake2Lake cycle trail that links Te Anau with Manapouri provides easy cycling for the whole family along the banks of the scenic Waiau River.
Te Anau is the perfect base for situating yourself as you explore the many spectacular attractions that Fiordland has to offer. From the iconic Piopiotahi / Milford Sound or the Milford Track to the more remote Patea / Doubtful Sound and Tamatea /Dusky Sound, no matter what experiences you decide to do make sure you add extra time to your itinerary to truly experience Fiordland as it is undeniably beyond belief.
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