Fiordland, New Zealand

Everyone hypes up Fiordland to be the most fantastically beautiful place in the country, and after what I have seen I would probably have to agree.

Te Anau is a small township on the waterfront of New Zealand's second largest lake, and can easily be considered the gateway to Fiordland. The township itself is much what you would expect from a South Island lakeside town - not overly big, but full of accommodation, eateries, and the facilities to help enjoy the use of the lake and see the surrounding areas. From Te Anau, you are in easy reach of Lake Manapouri, Doubtful Sound, and of course Milford Sound. All throughout this area are a mixture of shorts walks, to full 3 day treks.

On our trip, we stopped two nights in Te Anau. On the first night we checked out the Glow Worm Caves across the lake which really took our breath away (refer Real Journeys). The next day was a day trip to Milford Sound and back, checking out many things along the way, and doing a cruise in the Sound (once again with Real Journeys).

The road from Te Anau to Milford Sound is an interesting beast, and not really one for inexperienced drivers - the majority of it is ok to drive on, but there are places that make you wonder where the warning signs are. And then there is the Homer Tunnel ... it is unlit, on an incline (with the road levelling out at each end so you can't see the end of it from a distance), one lane in places, has water dripping down, has no safety phones, and when we first went through it was full of mist. It makes me wonder a bit about all the tour buses that pass through it on a daily basis, and even moreso after a bus caught fire inside it in late 2002.

Nonetheless, the drive is well worthwhile, as what awaits you on the other side is just simply stunning. One of the amazing things about Milford Sound, is that it is amazing if it is clear and sunny (seeing all the mountain peaks etc), or if it is raining (putting the waterfalls into full force). Unfortunately we saw it in an inbetween time where there was a mass of cloud cover, but no rain, but nonetheless at the end of our journey it remained our favourite of everywhere we had seen, because of its sheer natural beauty, and we have sworn to come back to see it again, as well as to explore Doubtful Sound.

As mentioned before, there are many points along the road worth stopping to look at. My recommendation is to do as we did, and drive straight from Te Anau to Milford Sound for a morning cruise, and then to take your time stopping at places on the way back - most people do the opposite, meaning you drive ahead of the mad rush there, and then the mad rush back might just catch up with you as you approach Te Anau again.

Things to remember:

Fiordland is known for its rainfall - make sure you have wet weather gear
Driving from Te Anau to Milford ensure you fill up with petrol before you leave Te Anau
Insect Repellant is a must around many of these areas, and good footwear is recommended
Seek info and advice before attempting any of the longer walks / treks (refer DOC below)
Most of Fiordland is a National Park, so please help keep it clean and beautiful


Coming Soon:

Te Anau / Milford Sound / the road inbetween

For more information, go to:

Department of Conservation (DOC)
Real Journeys
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100% Pure New Zealand
NZ AA Tourism Page -> New Zealand -> Fiordland

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