Fiordland National Park
World-class hiking, dramatic coastline and a magnificent landscape of snow-dusted mountains make the Fiordland National Park one of New Zealand’s most spectacular destinations.
Te Anau is the small town known as the gateway to Fiordland. This jumping-off point offers accommodation options and adventure-tour agencies. Choose from a range of exciting activities, including sightseeing cruises and helicopter flights. While most attractions are at least a 2-hour drive from town, there are some sights nearby. Head to the Glow Worm Caves where an underground grotto is lit up by the shimmering insects.
Among the most visited locations in the Fiordland National Park is Milford Sound. This giant inlet was gouged by glaciers and is flanked by tree-covered cliffs rising high above the water. Take a boat cruise or rent kayaks and explore the sound at your own pace. However you get onto the water, be sure to keep watch for dolphins. Come during winter when the skies are clearer to give yourself the best chance of viewing the picture-perfect Mitre Peak. Back on land, stop off at the pier to visit the Underwater Discovery Centre to view vibrant deep-water corals and anemones.
If you are looking to escape the busier areas, take a longer boat trip through the other sounds. Join the overnight trip around Doubtful Sound, known as the Sound of Silence, to immerse yourself in the tranquility of this pristine area.
The park is something of a magnet for hikers, with the Milford Track on almost every Kiwi walker’s bucket list. Pack well if you plan on walking the track as you will almost certainly experience rain over the 4-day trek. You will also find great shorter trails around Lake Manapouri.
Fiordland National Park is accessible by car from Queenstown. The summers in Fiordland are often hot and dry, while snow is common in winter. Snow chains are essential if you plan to drive in the mountains.