With school holiday season over, now is the time that many in the know choose to take their annual break, with plenty of summer days and daylight saving left to make the most of. If you haven't yet planned your annual "escape", why not consider a trip to the very beautiful Fiordland region at the bottom of New Zealand's South Island.
Fiordland is one of New Zealand’s most famous regions, notable especially for the stunning Milford and Doubtful Sounds. These fiords, in which waterfall festooned mountains rise dramatically from the water, are considered among the world’s top tourism destinations, and a regular drawcard for tourists. Though many visitors come through the area with only enough time to take a boat tour, there is plenty to see and do. The charming town of Te Anau makes a great base for some of Fiordland’s finest activities.
Where to Stay
The award winning Te Anau TOP 10 is a great choice for a base if you are planning to spend some time in this spectacular part of New Zealand.
Of course, there’s no sense in coming all the way to Fiordland and not taking a boat tour of the Sounds. Spend a day at Milford Sound, or take an overnight trip to Doubtful Sound which takes you right out to the Tasman Sea, to get an understanding of why so many people have listed the region as a must-see destination. You can also choose to see the Sounds via sea kayak. Tour operators Sea Kayak Fiordland will pick you up in Te Anau and take you on day or multi-day kayaking trips to explore the area.
Fiordland is home to some of New Zealand’s best tramping trails, including three of the country’s nine ‘Great Walks’: the Milford, Routeburn and Kepler Tracks. All of these are multi-day tramps, and should be booked in advance as the trails and huts get crowded in the summer. Experienced hikers looking for a less popular, but equally beautiful trail, might also enjoy the Dusky Track or the George Sound Track. If you only have a few hours to spare, rather than days, take a look at the Key Summit (part of the Routeburn Track) or Lake Marian Tracks—you can get a look at the area’s beautiful scenery and still be back in time for dinner. There are even shorter walks around Te Anau, including a trip to the Te Anau Wildlife Centre.
Wildlife: Native Birds and Glowworms
The Te Anau Wildlife Centre, operated by the Department of Conservation, is a great opportunity to see some of New Zealand’s endangered, native birds. The enclosures are scattered around the park, giving you the opportunity to stretch your legs while you view the birds. You might even see a rare takahe. In addition to native birdlife, the caves around Lake Te Anau are populated by tiny, luminescent glow worms. Book an evening Glowworm tour for a memorable outing.
Lake Manapouri Power Station
Close to Lake Te Anau is the equally beautiful Lake Manapouri, home to New Zealand's largest hydro power station. Take a trip across the lake for a guided tour of the underground station - but make sure you take plenty of insect repellent, the blackflies (sandflies) are prolific on the far side of the lake.
Eating and Drinking
Not known as a cultural capital, it comes as a surprise to many visitors that there are so many excellent dining options available in Te Anau. Be sure to try locally farmed venison while you are in the area, as well as a glass of Otago Pinot Noir.
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