Stay awhile and discover Te Anau and Manapouri
Nestled on the edge of the South Island’s largest lake, Te Anau is the spectacular stepping off point for those exploring the wilderness of Fiordland or those wanting to savour a place of peace and relaxation.
With a full range of shops and accommodation providers, Te Anau is the perfect place to stay and experience the friendliness of small-town New Zealand. Stock up on all you need for outdoor adventures, and then stay for restaurants, lake cruises, glow worm caves, jet boating or even a glimpse of the rare, flightless takahē at Punanga Manu o Te Anau, Te Anau’s Bird Sanctuary.
Just a 20-minute drive from Te Anau, you will find the idyllic township of Manapouri sitting quietly on the shores of mighty Lake Manapouri. Known as New Zealand’s loveliest lake, Manapouri’s quiet and unhurried atmosphere belies the extraordinary environment it sits within and the extraordinary tale of its survival - New Zealand’s first great conservation campaign. Whether you’re sitting in the beer garden at the local pub or on the lakeshore at Fraser’s Beach, Manapouri delivers a feast for the eyes. Thirty-three small islands dot the lake along with countless bush-clad coves and beaches framed by the majestic backdrop of Cathedral Peaks and the many layers of Fiordland ranges which span as far as the eye can see.
Te Anau is the point to begin your self-drive or coach and cruise tour to Piopiotahi / Milford Sound. Trips to Patea/Doubtful Sound depart from Manapouri with tour operators offering coach and cruise/kayak options from Te Anau or Queenstown.
ACTIVITIES IN TE ANAU AND MANAPOURI
The proximity of three of New Zealand's ten Great Walks places Te Anau firmly on the map as New Zealand’s walking capital. Here, you can set off on the Milford Track, Kepler Track and Routeburn Track and other multi-day hikes.
Many of Te Anau’s activities are focused around its stunning lake and easy access to Fiordland National Park. Activities include:
Find a full list of activities in Te Anau and Manapouri here.
Te Anau’s accommodation options range from backpacker hostels right through to luxury lodges. During the peak summer season, it is advisable to book well in advance as demand is high. Manapouri offers a small selection of accommodation options, but travellers will find everything from motels and private home rentals to a luxury lodge also.
WEATHER & SEASONS
Sept-Nov: This is the equinox period and a time when Fiordland often experiences unsettled weather patterns, including more wind and rain than at other times of the year. It is also common to experience the occasional storm which may bring snow to low levels. Around Fiordland, you will see lambs, daffodils and cherry blossoms. Daylight savings starts in October, making the evenings even longer.
Dec-Feb: These are the warmest months of the year where temperatures can reach up to 30 degrees Celsius (80 degrees Fahrenheit). Although wind and rain are still common, it is likely that there will be longer periods of settled weather in summer. Daylight hours are long with dawn at about 5.30 am and dusk at about 9.30 pm. In the height of summer, the hottest hours of the day are from about 3.30 pm. Join the local children and families at any of the beaches for a BBQ and an evening swim. You might even like to jump off Te Anau’s famous wharf.
March-May: Autumn continues to bring pleasant weather with. March is often warm and things generally begin to cool down towards the end of April and into May. Daylight hours start to shorten, and although the native forest remains green, the exotic trees in the townships start to change to vibrant colours. Late autumn brings the crispness of early morning frosts and mist. The senses start to come alive as temperatures begin to drop.
June-Aug: Surprisingly, winter in Fiordland is the most settled time of year. Although the daylight hours are much shorter with sunrise being about 8.30 am and sunset about 4.30 pm the skies are often blue and cloudless. The air is crisp and fresh, and snow is seen on the mountains. A trip into Piopiotahi / Milford Sound is a spectacular event with snow to low levels. Bring lots of layers, including a warm hat and gloves and you will feel more alive than ever.
Access to Te Anau is via State Highway 6 and State Highway 94 from Queenstown, State Highways 1 and 94 from Dunedin or via the Southern Scenic Route from Invercargill. All roads leading to Te Anau and Manapouri travel through diverse terrain and interesting scenery - don’t rush it!
For information on getting to Piopiotahi / Milford Sound from Te Anau, read about the Milford Road here.
Te Anau to Milford Sound 120 kms (74.5 miles) allow 2 hours driving
Queenstown to Te Anau 170 kms (105.5 miles) allow 2 hours driving
Invercargill to Te Anau 152 kms (94.5 miles) allow 2 hours driving
Dunedin to Te Anau 290 kms (180 miles) allow 4 hours driving
Manapouri to Te Anau 20 kms (12.5 miles) allow 20 mins driving
Christchurch to Te Anau 652 kms (405 miles) allow 8 hours driving
FAQs about Te Anau & Manapouri
How far is it from Te Anau to Milford Sound?
The drive from Te Anau to Piopiotahi / Milford Sound is 120 kms (74.5 miles). Allow 2 hours driving without stops. We highly recommend allowing longer to drive to Milford Sound so you can enjoy the spectacular scenery and short walks along the way.
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.
How far is Te Anau from Queenstown?
The drive from Queenstown to Te Anau is 170 kms (105.5 miles). Allow 2 hours driving
Does it snow in Te Anau?
Yes but not often. Te Anau and Manapouri may experience snow between one and five times a year.
How deep is Lake Te Anau?
Lake Te Anau is 417m (1368ft) deep. It is the South Island's largest lake and the second largest lake in New Zealand.
Are there sandflies in Te Anau?
Sandflies are most commonly encountered at beach areas around Fiordland and sometimes Te Anau. If you are not used to these annoying little creatures, keep some bug spray handy.
Can you swim in Lake Te Anau?
Yes. Local kids (and big kids!) love to swim in the lake during the summer months. Te Anau is right on the lakefront, so finding a beach to swim from is easy. Remember that the lake is fed by rain and snow melt!
Where is Manapouri?
Manapouri is 20 minutes drive south of Te Anau.
What is Lake Manapouri famous for?
Lake Manapouri is considered one of New Zealand's most picturesque lakes. It became famous in the 1970s when the Save Manapouri campaign successfully blocked the lake from being flooded for a hydroelectricity scheme.