To truly experience everything Fiordland has to offer, we recommend spending a minimum of three days and three nights in the region.
Day 1: is a water day. Fiordland is a landscape dominated by water; from the immense lakes to the incredible rainfall and the abundant forest it sustains to the ancient glaciers whose powerful ice has shaped the landscape.
There is an endless supply of water-based activities to enjoy in Te Anau, Manapouri, Patea / Doubtful Sound or Piopiotahi / Milford Sound.
Cruise, kayak or dive in one of the fiords, pack raft or jet boat along the rivers, hire a paddleboard, cruise to the other side of Lake Te Anau, stand under a waterfall, and swim in the crystal-clear waters.
Day 1 evening: Dine out in one of Fiordland’s many restaurants. Te Anau offers a wide range of options, and there are also options in Manapouri and Milford Sound Lodge. Local delicacies include wild venison, fresh fish from the coast and Fiordland’s famous crayfish (lobster). Enjoy local produce, wines, craft beers and some friendly, southern service.
Day 2: Covering more than 12,607 square kilometres (4,868 square miles), Fiordland National Park is an immense and in most places impenetrable forest. The only way to truly appreciate the scale of this dense wilderness is to fly high above it.
Book yourself a scenic flight by helicopter, fixed-wing plane or the South Island’s only floatplane. From high above, you will spot hidden lakes, glaciers, waterfalls and so much more. Scenic helicopter flights offer the option to land on a glacier which is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Flights are always weather-dependent so ensure you check the weather and have a spare day in your itinerary in case your flight is weather-affected.
Day 2 evening: Purpose-built for screening the locally-filmed cinematic experience, Ata Whenua - Shadowland, Fiordland Cinema is a Te Anau must-do. Catch a screening of this mesmerising cinematic odyssey filmed largely from a helicopter or Deer Wars, a half-hour documentary on the fascinating history of deer hunting and farming in Fiordland. The cinema also screens new releases served with local wine and gourmet snacks.
Day 3: Fiordland is known as the ‘walking capital of the world’ for a good reason. It is home to three of New Zealand’s ten great walks as well as countless day walks ranging from gentle lakeside strolls to challenging alpine summits. Department of Conservation (DOC) maintains the walking tracks around Fiordland and visitors are often impressed with the standard of the trails as well as the far-flung areas the tracks access.
Spending time on a track immersed in beech forest, the lush punga ferns or high on a rocky ridgeline is an essential part of any Fiordland visit. So, get out there and get those boots muddy and immerse yourself amongst a World-Heritage-listed rainforest.
Tracks range in difficulty and distances so you will find something to suit all ages and abilities. Check out our "see & do" section for your options as well as information on guided hikes, heli hikes, water taxis to tracks and equipment hire.
Day 3 evening: Tonight, relax and go for an easy takeaway. Te Anau offers a great selection of pizza restaurants as well as fish and chips, Indian and food trucks. If the weather is good, head down to Lake Te Anau or Lake Manapouri to watch the sunset or head back to your room to enjoy an easy night.