Welcome to Fiordland
Te Anau – the gateway to the Fiordland National Park – is only 2 hours drive from Queenstown. Situated on the shores of Lake Te Anau, one of the great Southern Lakes, this lively and pretty lakeside community bustles with cafés, shops, accommodation and activities. Te Anau is the nearest town to Milford and Doubtful Sounds as well as having the famous Milford and Kepler Great Walks on its doorstep.
The name Te Anau is of Maori origin (Te Ana-au), meaning ‘rushing waters in a cave’ but the caves were only rediscovered in the 1940s. At 12,000 years old, the caves are relatively young and are still being formed by water action. These days they’re famous for the glowworm grotto deep inside.
Only 15 minutes drive from Te Anau, the township nestles beside what is renowned as New Zealand’s most beautiful lake. The lake’s dotted with over 30 small islands, covered in native bush and accessible by boat. Lake Manapouri, or ‘Lake of the Sorrowing Heart’, is the gateway to Doubtful Sound and home to part of the famous Kepler Track.
The Bridesmaids of New Zealand Lakes is the affectionate name often bestowed on Lake Te Anau, NZ’s second largest lake, and Lake Manapouri, the second deepest!
Described by Rudyard Kipling as the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’, Milford Sound is one of the jewels in the Fiordland Crown. It’s actually a fiord – created by rivers of glacial ice and flanked on both sides by sheer rock face, rising up to awe-inspiring heights. Milford Sound is constantly bombarded by water flowing from the mountaintops, falling thousands of feet down into the fiord – a truly incredible sight. Milford Sound’s beauty alone is breathtaking, but add to that the abundance of wildlife; the fur seals, rare fiordland crested penguins, and the favourites of everyone, bottlenose dolphins. These fellows frequently lead the cruise boats, playing in the bow waves as they head out to the wild west coast of New Zealand.
Captain James Cook sighted the entrance to Doubtful Sound on his first voyage to New Zealand in 1770. He called the place Doubtful Harbour and didn’t enter the sound because he was doubtful about whether he could turn back round and make an exit back to sea. Doubtful Sound, moody and mysterious, is often known as the ‘Sound of Silence’. It’s a staggering 10 times bigger than Milford Sound and also home to fur seals, fiordland crested penguins and dolphins.