Best known as the gateway to Fiordland National Park, Te Anau is the best place to base yourself for a few days this winter. Home to plenty of activities and experiences it warrants a place on your New Zealand road trip itinerary.
Winter is a special time here in Southland and if you are thinking about visiting, don’t be put off by the cold temperatures, it’s well the extra layers in the suitcase. Winter brings Fiordland’s lowest rainfall, plenty of snow, and a picture-perfect national park.
Below are our top eight activities to put on your list this winter season in New Zealand.
Visit Milford Sound in all of its winter glory
Arguably the most famous destination of them all, the jewel in our Fiordland crown and home to some of the most iconic views in New Zealand. Winter is the perfect time to cruise in Milford Sound. The fiord is calm, the sunsets are golden and the Milford Road will blow your mind.
Take a full day driving from Te Anau and stop at some of our favourite locations like The Eglinton Valley, Mirror Lakes, and the famous Homer Tunnel. Keep a lookout for the Kea birds, the world’s only alpine parrot. Take a two-hour cruise with (insert fave cruise company link) and marvel at Mitre Peak and Stirling Falls.
Take a hike in Fiordland
Fiordland is a hiking paradise and for good reason. Did you know Fiordland is home to three of New Zealand’s Great Walks? However, if you are keen to strap on the hiking boots before the Great Walk season why not check out some of the famous day hikes in the area. Lake Marian day hike reveals a pristine glacial lake and Key Summit showcases the finest views down the Hollyford Valley. Looking to stay closer to Te Anau? Take a stroll from the control gates onto the iconic Kepler Track. This easy, flat walk takes you through the native bush where you might spot a little bird or two. An easy little escape into nature that is perfect for all ages and abilities
Visit the Te Anau Bird sanctuary
Punanga Manu o Te Anau, The Bird Sanctuary, is nestled on the shores of Lake Te Anau and home to some of the rarest, flightless birds in the world. The Takahē are the stars of the show and meeting these funny-looking characters is a must-do for Te Anau visitors. Enjoy up-close encounters with Kaka, Kereru, and Tui’s, all while listening to the knowledgeable and caring rangers who look after these birds. You can arrange a private group tour to learn more or simply drop in on a gold coin donation for feeding time. Take a peek at some of New Zealand’s birds that are difficult to spot in the wild and donate to the hard work they do to rehabilitate these rare species.
Cycle to Lake Manapouri
Have you heard about the Lake2Lake Cycle trail? You have now! A custom-built trail that runs alongside Lake Te Anau and the Waiau River through to Manapouri is waiting for you and your two wheels. Cycle from Te Anau and take in the natural beauty, the bike trail is open to walkers, runners, cyclists, and e-bikes, all of which we can arrange for you. Take your time, this ride showcases some of the best forests and lakeside views on the South Island.
Visit the Glow Worm Caves
Hop on a boat with the Real Journeys crew and take a trip to the iconic glow-worm caves. Travel across Lake Te Anau to an amazing 12,000-year-old cave system. Here you will find a grotto filled with thousands of glittering Glow Worms, all native to New Zealand. A magical adventure for kids and adults alike. Te Anua is the place to tick off some of New Zealand’s best-loved experiences.
Eat delicious local food
If there is one thing Fiordland is good at (apart from being picture-perfect, of course) is food. Our locals know their stuff, whether you want to sample the local favourites like venison or crayfish, delve into a deliciously crafted Bao Bun or dine with pristine lake views, Te Anau appeals to all tastebuds. There is always something happening in our little town and we will point you in the direction of famed hangouts such as La Toscana or Redcliffe for an evening of fun. You can order from almost every menu in town and enjoy in the comfort of your Radford’s hotel suite too.
Stay with the locals
Sharing Fiordland’s beautiful environment and unique experiences with guests is our passion. As “born and bred” Southland locals, Kerri and Steve know their stuff and will hook you up with the best experiences and best-kept secrets in their backyard. Staying with locals most certainly has its perks, pair this with luxurious accommodation and top-notch recommendations for an unforgettable stay.
Feel the calm in Doubtful Sound
Patea, Doubtful Sound is a Fiordland gem. A striking and powerful landscape spanning 40 kilometres from the head of the fiord right out to the Tasman Sea. Branching into three arms, you will experience impressive waterfalls, tranquil waters, and some of the most incredible wildlife. Did you know Doubtful Sound provides shelter for a population of Bottlenose Dolphins and Tawaki, the Fiordland Crested Penguin? With no road to the fiord, the experience of getting there is an adventure in itself. Depart early for a full day exploring this peaceful wonder and return to tell us all about it.
From off the beaten track to well-known adventures. Fiordland National Park serves up a spectacular array of iconic moments just waiting for you this winter. We can’t wait to see you soon.