Fiordland - Southland, New Zealand - Credit Graham Dainty (2)
Fiordland Must-Dos
Fly the spectacular Joes River © Graham Dainty

So much more than a day trip. Stay longer and discover an impressive list of things to do in Fiordland; from rough-and-ready to absolute luxury. Here are just a few of Fiordland’s best experiences.

Things to do in Fiordland

  • Fiordland from the air
    More than a Fiordland must-do, this is a New Zealand must-do. Take to the skies by fixed-wing, helicopter or floatplane and witness the breathtaking beauty of Fiordland from above.
  • Take a lake cruise instead
    Everyone loves a Milford Sound cruise, but what about a lake cruise from Te Anau or Manapouri? Jump on a boat in town and cruise across the lake to the impressive shores of Fiordland’s beaches or glowworm caves.

  • Jet boating adventure
    Adventure and scenery combine to give you one of Fiordland’s most exciting activities. Jet boat the Waiau River from Te Anau or head to the Wairaurahiri River to the steepest river in New Zealand.

  • Fiordland on Film
    Te Anau’s boutique cinema was purpose-built to offer daily screenings of the film, Ata Whenua - Shadowland. A cinematic odyssey and filmed mostly from a helicopter, Ata Whenua is the essence of Fiordland on film.

  • The magical glowworm caves
    Cruise across Lake Te Anau for a unique journey into the Te Anau Glowworm Caves. In a spectacular cave system sculpted by water, spend time with hundreds of glittering glowworms.  

Piopiotahi / Milford Sound overnight: Stay a little longer
Spend the night in Piopiotahi / Milford Sound and leave ample time to explore one of New Zealand’s most iconic natural landmarks at your leisure. Stay at Milford Sound Lodge or take an overnight Piopiotahi / Milford Sound cruise and experience the majesty of the fiord after the buses and cruise boats have finished for the day.
  • Kayak the fiords
    Nothing quite compares to the experience of paddling the fiords with the ocean swell underneath and giant cliffs towering above. A completely different perspective on  Patea/Doubtful Sound or Piopiotahi / Milford Sound.

  • Dive Milford Sound
    Known as New Zealand’s “coral capital” diving in Piopiotahi / Milford Sound is unlike anything else on the planet. Dive along the fiord wall, discover a unique marine ecosystem where black coral can reach six metres in height and marine life is abundant. If you’d prefer not to get wet, the Piopiotahi / Milford Sound Underwater Observatory and Discovery Centre is the perfect alternative.

  • Lake2Lake Cycle Trail
    The Lake2Lake trail runs for 28km alongside Lake Te Anau and the Waiau River towards Lake Manapouri.  The trail is wide enough for cyclists and walkers and is rated as Grade 2- Easy.  The trail can be biked in both directions and jet boat and road transfer options are available.  Bikes and e-bikes can be hired in Te Anau.
  • The tastes of Te Anau
    From a famous venison pie at Miles Better Pies to a gourmet meal at one of the area’s many restaurants or lodges, dining in Te Anau is sure to impress. Local delicacies include crayfish (lobster), blue cod and venison.

  • Great Walks
    Three of New Zealand’s nine world-famous Great Walks start in Fiordland. The Milford Track, Kepler Track and Routeburn Track offer a magnificent way to explore the unique ecosystem and geological formations of Fiordland.

Kayak a fiord - credit Go Orange

Just 15 minutes from Te Anau, the shores of Lake Manapouri offer some of the most spectacular views in New Zealand. From the beach, enjoy a vista to take your breath away. Lake Manapouri is dotted with small islands and rocky outcrops. Around its shores, countless bush-clad coves and beaches lead into the bush with everything framed by the majestic backdrop of the Cathedral Peaks and layers of Fiordland ranges spanning as far as the eye can see. Stay in Manapouri at one of the many homestays or treat yourself at luxurious Cabot Lodge.

FAQs about Fiordland

How many days should I spend in Fiordland?

Every visitor wishes they had stayed longer in Fiordland. If you are time-poor then one day will allow you to see Piopiotahi / Milford Sound or Patea / Doubtful Sound from Te Anau, Manapouri or Queenstown (it is a longer day if visiting from Queenstown). If you are planning to do one of the Great Walks you should allow a night before and after in Te Anau or Manapouri as well as the 3-4 days needed for the walk. We recommend you stay a few nights to take in the range of activities on offer as well as taking time to unwind and relax in nature. See some suggested itineraries here.

What is Fiordland most famous for?

Fiordland is most famous for Piopiotahi / Milford Sound, often described as "the eighth wonder of the world". Fiordland is also famous for the Milford Track, known as "the finest walk in the world". Fiordland is part of Te Wahi Pounamu - Southwest New Zealand World Heritage site. This status affords Fiordland fame and protection for generations to come.

What is there to see on the way to Milford Sound?

The Milford Road is a spectacular drive, be sure to allow plenty of time. There are many scenic stops along the road including walks from 20 minutes to 5 hours. You may also see the mischievous kea bird around the Homer Tunnel.

What are the best things to do in Fiordland with kids?

Fiordland is the best playground for children! Introduce your childrent to hiking in New Zealand on the many easy walks in the area. Te Anau has several playgrounds, mini-golf, small-bore rifle shooting, an Escape Room, Frisbee Golf, pump-track, skate park and cycle trail. In the summer time the Te Anau Community Swimming Pool is open (the lake is always open!). The Waiau River between Lakes Te Anau and Manapouri is easily accessible for biking, walking and fishing. Feed the takahe at Punanga Manu o Te Anau - the Te Anau Bird Sanctuary. The Te Anau Public Library is open to visitors and has an extensive children's section.

What is there to do in Fiordland National Park?

Fiordland is most famous for hiking and walking. Three of New Zealand's Great Walks are found in Fiordland (Kepler, Milford and Routeburn) and there is a huge number of day walk options. Te Anau and Manapouri offer a huge range of activities to do on the lake.

What is there to do in Te Anau?

Te Anau is known as the gateway to Fiordland, Piopiotahi / Milford Sound and Patea / Doubtful Sound. It also offers a range of activities which makes it worth staying a while. Activities include day walks, kayaking, sailing, cruising, fishing, cycling, hunting, jet boating, farm tours and scenic flights by float plane and helicopter.