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Taste of the Great Eights Fiordland itinerary

Fiordland National Park covers 1.2 Hectares of land. Situated in the South West corner of New Zealand’s South Island we are so lucky to have this adventure oasis right on our doorstep. Fiordland was declared a World Heritage Area in 1986 and rightly so, even Rudyard Kipling unofficially named Milford Sound the 8th wonder of the natural world.

Date 06 Jan 2021

With that accreditation we will continue to inspire you, our fellow travellers to explore the National Park at leisure. This year we will be focusing on our Great Eights in Fiordland. Think food, wildlife, hikes, accommodation, activities… you name it we are here to showcase it to you. Our home has built a reputation on the sheer number of hikes and experiences available to you so, meet our locals, hike our trails and get amongst nature this Summer.

We have compiled an eight-day Fiordland itinerary packed with excitement, relaxation, iconic locations, and more so you can really experience all that Fiordland has to offer.

Day 1

You have arrived at your destination. Te Anau is your basecamp for the next eight days of pure exploration here in Fiordland National Park. Nestled on the eastern shores of Lake Te Anau, New Zealand’s second-largest lake. Here you stay at the gateway to our wilderness area famed for our hikes and spectacular scenery.

We suggest booking somewhere to stay, you can find our varied accommodation options here. We have something for everyone in Te Anau, from campervan sites, quaint BnB’s, luxury lodges, and hotels that offer uninterrupted views of the landscape.

Take it easy today, you will need to save your energy for the rest of your time here in Fiordland. Opt for a walk along the lakefront esplanade to Blue Gum Point and enjoy the stillness and serenity by the lake, overlooked by the Murchison Mountains. This mountain range is where the Takahe was rediscovered, in 1948 by Geoffery Orbell. after it had been presumed extinct.

Some of the most fascinating and rare birds can now be found at the Te Anau Bird Sanctuary. The centre is used for breeding programmes to increase native bird populations in the wild, as well as for rehabilitation before being released back in the wild. Giving you a unique chance to get a close encounter with birds such as the Takahe, Kaka, Kea, Morepork, and more. Best thing? It’s 100% free to visit.

After you visit the bird Sanctuary you can stroll around Ivon Wilson Park. A peaceful park home to introduced and native tree's with great views over the mountains.

No visit to Te Anau is complete without a street style feed. You can’t go past Bao Now with vibrant flavours and seriously good kai, from baos, sushi bowls, and dumplings to loaded fries!! Miles Better Pies is definitely worth a visit with handmade gourmet pies, chunky venison, hot soups, and fresh scones. How many Bao’s and Pies can you eat in one visit? Try them all!

Day 2

Strap your hiking boots on for day two in Fiordland because you are scaling the Luxmore Summit on the Kepler Track. This great walk starts and ends in Te Anau. Most tackle the 60km loop in three days, the track passes through many landscapes in Fiordland national park. Such as rocky mountain ridges, tall mossy forests, and rivers. However, today is a day hike to get your body moving. Save the legs for the climb and jump on the Kepler Water Taxi from town, the taxi will take you across Lake Te Anau to Brod Bay where you can start your adventure. The full-day walk should take around 6-8 hours and you can walk at your own pace.

You can also opt for a guided hike or helicopter-hike transfer for your Kepler day hike. A helicopter to Luxmore Hut will take around ten minutes and so you can start your journey to the summit from here.

You will be fully immersed in the true backcountry of New Zealand. and resident Kea also visit the hut sites regularly. Be sure to enjoy the 360 views of the Kepler Track, South Arm of Lake Te Anua, and our home town below.

When you arrive back in town you will need some fuel. For a Gastro Pub style meal check out The Fat Duck, priding themselves on good times, great beverages, and amazing food experiences like the crispy duck salad. Across the road, the Ranch Bar and Grill’s famous Sunday roast and authentic kiwi burgers will not disappoint. Both restaurants have big-screen televisions for all sporting enthusiasts.

If your muscles need some attention give the team at Fiordland Massage clinic a call to keep your body in 100% shape for the rest of your time here.

Luxmore Hut - Sophie Piearcey

Day 3

Is there anything as iconic to Southland as a cheese roll? The sandfly café is your cheese roll specialist along with other tasty breakfast and brunch dishes served throughout the day. The Sandfly makes an ideal place to relax before your day three in Fiordland, with indoor and outdoor seating to enjoy all-day sun. They serve delicious homestyle treats and superb coffee to kickstart your day. 

Day three and off on another epic adventure. Explore deeper into Fiordland National Park, from above. Take a scenic flight over our National Park to appreciate the true grandeur of this place.

Popular destinations for scenic flights include Dusky and Doubtful Sound, Milford Sound, and more. A scenic flight over Fiordland allows access to breathtaking views overlooking mountain peaks, lakes, and spectacular fiords. A range of services are available, from scenic flights, (via helicopters, fixed-wing, and floatplane) to transport and photography charters as well as heli-hike options.

After a morning in the sky, it is time to explore more but this time on two wheels. Riding a bike in and around Te Anau and Manapouri is one of the best options to explore this area. The trails are relatively flat and you can enjoy great routes such as the scenic Lake 2 Lake trail which connects Lake Te Anau and Lake Manapouri by the shores of the River Waiau. Perenuka is a fantastic mountain biking trail on the outskirts of Te Anau, if you want to step it up a notch.  Bike hire options are available ready for you to explore the Te Anau township and lakeshore cycle tracks.

Dusky Sound - Fiordland Helicopters

Day 4

The Milford Highway named one of the most scenic drives in the world is worthy of a full day in your itinerary. The advantage of driving through the national park is the flexibility you have with your time, however, if driving is not your thing, sit back, relax and let one of our local operators drive the road for you. During a guided tour of Fiordland you will learn about our rich history, native bush, wildlife, and more.  

From Te Anau, Milford Sound is a two-hour drive away but be sure to leave time for plenty of stops along the way. Lake Gunn, the Eglinton Valley, and Mirror Lakes all provide short walks with epic rewards, beautiful views await so be sure to have your camera charged. 

After the Hollyford Lookout, which provides spectacular roadside views over the Hollyford Valley, you will reach Moneky Creek. Monkey Creek is surrounded by spectacular mountains and offers one of the finest photo opportunities in the national park. This is a great place for kea sightings, they love to hang around and pop down for a visit. Keep your ears open for their calls and your eyes open for their stunning red and orange feathers underwing. They are particularly cheeky, so watch your belongings. 

The Homer Tunnel is 1.2km’s in length and officially opened in 1953. The tunnel was constructed straight through the Darran mountain range, under the Homer Saddle, and took 19 years to complete. The view of the Cleddau Valley on the other side is pretty remarkable on route to the Jewel in our crown. Mitre Peak is arguably one of New Zealand’s most photographed mountains. Rising 1692 metres from the ocean it is a truly incredible sight, best seen from the foreshore walk or during a cruise through Milford Sound.  

Many cruise operators offer a two-hour scenic cruise through our most famous fiord where you may spot some more if our wildlife. Bottlenose Dolphins ride the bow waves, New Zealand Fur Seals bask on the rocks and Fiordland Crested Penguins can be spotted near the mouth of the sound. Look out for one of our iconic shots, Stirling Falls. Stirling falls is a Fiordland must-see. Also known as Waimanu Falls it is the most magnificent waterfall in Milford Sound. Three times higher than Niagara Falls at a staggering 151m tall, Stirling Falls is Milford’s second-highest waterfall. The hanging valley that sits above the waterfall displaces the sheer size, that is until the cruise boat noses right into the falls. In Maori, the falls are called Wai Manu meaning, ‘cloud on the water’.  

Stay a little longer, explore a little deeper, and embrace all the spectacular sights and sounds with a stay at the Milford Sound Lodge. Perfect for all with Campervan sites and chalets overlooking the Cleddau River.

Milford Sound - Chris Sisarchi

Day 5

Wake up early on day five and experience the Fiord from a different perspective. Kayaking in Milford Sound is a true bucket list experience. Sea kayaking options are available as day trips in Milford Sound so let the friendly and passionate guides show you the magnificence of this world-famous fiord. Escape the crowds and explore the grandeur of this area.
 
Before you leave Milford, take the 20-minute foreshore walk and locate the Swing. The Milford Sound swing is one of Fiordland’s hidden photography treasures. Nestled in the trees directly framing Mitre Peak this handmade, rustic swing can be found.
 
On route back to Te Anau along the Milford Sound Highway, you will find some excellent half-day walks. Key Summit, part of the Routeburn Track Great Walk, and Lake Marian are 3-4 hour return hikes that showcase the epic scenery here in Fiordland. With waterfalls, native bush, and 360-degree mountain vista’s, it will be the perfect way to end your Day five adventure.
 
Enjoy a night in Te Anau at The Redcliff Café. The Redcliff has a reputation here in Te Anau for great food, wine, and friendly service. A favourite place for locals and visitors alike, the Redcliff Restaurant delivers top-end award-winning food, matched with a range of local, Central Otago, and NZ wines. Set in an early settlers cottage the atmosphere is cosy and charming with local memorabilia from Milford Sound, Fiordland, Lord of the Rings & Te Anau. Live music adds to the charm of this eatery.

Kayaking Milford Sound - Roscos Kayaking

Day 6 

Wake for Sunrise on Day six and head to the Wharf. The Marakura Yacht club wharf is a popular location for photographers and yachties alike. With views over Lake Te Anau framed by the Kepler and Murchison Mountains. Visit at Sunrise for calm waters and beautiful colours in the sky. The Wharf is accessed on foot from Te Anau town, a short fifteen minutes walk.

Today is the day you will embark on a journey to Doubtful Sound for an overnight cruise experience. Practically untouched by humans, apart from the select few allowed to operate there, you will have the chance to travel into the heart of Fiordland National Park to discover dramatic landscapes and secluded coves as you cruise the inner fiords.

This intimate and off the grid experience allows you to gain a deeper connection to the heart of Fiordland. Starting with a cruise across Lake Manapouri, followed by a coach trip over the epic Wilmot Pass, a chance for you to tick off another iconic shot on your Fiordland Great Eight list. The Wilmot Pass is a 671m high pass, it connects Doubtful Sound, a deep indentation in the coast of Fiordland, to the valley of the West Arm of Lake Manapouri. The pass is named after E. H. Wilmot, a former surveyor-general of New Zealand, who had noted it while surveying the area in 1897. The view into Doubtful Sound from the highest point on the pass is one not to be missed.

Activities onboard overnight cruises can include fishing, mammal watching, and star gazing on clear evenings. Wildlife often sighted in Doubtful Sound may include dolphins, penguins, seals, and sea birds.

Soak up the silence, this is a truly unforgettable experience.

Doubtful Sound Cruise - Real Journeys

Day 7

Although it will be hard to depart the remote location you just spent the night we are getting you into a day of activities back in civilisation for day seven here in Fiordland. Take a leisurely stroll around the lake and play a round of frisbee gold if that’s your thing.

With half a day to explore in and around Te Anau you can opt for jet boating on the Waiau River, Trout fishing for ultimate hands-on Kiwi adventure, or a trip over to the famous glow worm caves. The Te Anau Glowworm Caves adventure begins with a scenic cruise across Lake Te Anau to the western side of the lake. You explore by path and small boat and observe how the rushing water sculpts the rock formations, before gliding through silent darkness to the glowworm grotto, fun for all the family.

You are nearing the end of your Fiordland eight-day itinerary and after another local feed at La Toscana, Italian comfort food at its best with fresh quality, local ingredients. Making delicious pizza, pasta and mouth-watering desserts you need to kick back and watch Ata Whenua at the Black Dog Cinema and bar.  This breath-taking cinematic film showcases Fiordland’s stunning scenery.  Filmed by owner-operator Kim Hollows of Fiordland Helicopters this film is an experience in itself.  35 minutes in length and narrated by Sir Tipene O’Regan of Ngai Tahu this film is not to be missed while visiting Te Anau.

Glow Worm Caves - Real Journeys

Day 8

You cant leave Fiordland National Park without stepping foot on the Milford Track. The Milford Track has been named one of the most scenic walks in the whole world. The track has been delighting hikers for more than 150 years and is the ultimate New Zealand backcountry experience. The Maori people used the area for gathering and transporting valuable Pounamu and have legends about the area and native species. Donald Sutherland, John. Mackay and Quintin McKinnon were the first Europeans to explore the track and the overland route we now tramp today. In 1888, McKinnon discovered what is now named the Mackinnon pass. The towering peaks and huge valleys make it a truly majestic experience.

On a day walk, you will not reach Mackinnon pass but you will hike on one of the most iconic tracks in New Zealand (and the world). Guided tours are available for this full-day experience, where you will learn about the rich history, native flower, fauna, and wildlife. Alternatively you can book a return water taxi transfer and explore this hike solo. An independent Milford Track day walk is the perfect option for a short and sweet Milford Track experience.

Enjoy exploring this World Heritage location with a scenic morning boat cruise leaving from Te Anau Downs to Glade Wharf, the start of the Milford Track. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to hike on one of the world's finest tracks.

Back in Te Anau for your last evening in Fiordland, you can't miss the sunset over the lake before heading to another delicious Te Anau eatery. Did you know the Fiordland Lodge is now taking reservations to the public this season, enjoy unique dishes with incredible views of the lake and national park.

Milford Track - Trips & Tramps

That is a wrap for your 'Taste of the Great Eights Fiordland itinerary' you can find more of our Great Eights listed here. 

Come back soon where we will have more itineraries for you to help plan your very own adventure here in our home. 

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