• The History of Te Anau and Fiordland

Te Anau is the gateway to Fiordland. Most visitors to Te Anau base themselves here as they explore Fiordland National Park. This region is not only renowned for its awe-inspiring natural beauty but also holds a rich history that stretches back thousands of years.

The Maori, New Zealand’s indigenous people, have deep connections to Fiordland and Te Anau. They were the first to explore and inhabit this rugged terrain. Te Anau itself takes its name from Lake Te Anau, derived from the Maori words “Te Ana-au,” meaning “the cave of swirling water.” This name is fitting, as the lake is known for its tranquil waters and underground caves, which are now a popular attraction in the area.

Fiordland National Park is the largest National Park in New Zealand and covers over 1.2 million hectares. In 1952 it was officially constituted and in 1986 it was declared a World Heritage Area.

It is said that the demigod Tuterakiwhanoa carved the rugged landscape from formless rock. While very few Māori resided in Fiordland, they visited frequently collecting food and takiwai, translucent greenstone.

The first Europeans arrived in 1773, Captain James Cook and his crew set up camp in Tamatea/Dusky Sound for five weeks to explore the area. They made friends with Māori families and learned how to live off the land. It wasn’t long before more Europeans came to explore Fiordland and Te Anau. In the early 19th century sealers and whalers arrived on New Zealand’s shores. The region’s remote and rugged nature, however, made settlement challenging. It wasn’t until the mid-19th century that European settlers started to establish a more permanent presence in Te Anau and its surroundings. In the 1890’s, gold was found in Preservation inlet and the area briefly boomed. However efforts to establish mines, timber mills and farms were not successful due to the harsh climate in Fiordland.

During this time, Te Anau became a hub for pastoral farming and sawmill operations. The lush grasslands around the lake provided fertile ground for grazing cattle and sheep. Timber from the nearby beech forests was also harvested for construction and export, contributing to the economic development of the area.

In 1888 Fiordland, particularly Milford Sound, became popular for tourists. The Mackinnon Pass had been discovered and was a popular route for trampers. The number of visitors to Milford increased significantly as word got out about how amazing this untouched beauty really was. Donald Sutherland, the first European settler in Milford Sound decided to capitalise on this and with his wife built a hotel.The construction of the Milford Road, which began in the early 20th century, was a significant milestone in the history of Fiordland and Te Anau. This engineering marvel provided access to the remote Milford Sound and opened up the region to tourism. It was a testament to human determination in the face of the region’s challenging terrain.

The real turning point in the history of Fiordland and Te Anau as a tourist destination came with the designation of Fiordland National Park in 1952. This protected status preserved the region’s pristine natural beauty and encouraged sustainable tourism. Today, Fiordland National Park is not only a UNESCO World Heritage Site but also one of New Zealand’s most iconic natural treasures.

Tourism in Te Anau and Fiordland has since flourished, with visitors coming from around the world to explore the area’s fjords, lakes, and wilderness. The development of hiking trails, such as the famous Kepler Track, and the availability of guided tours have made it easier for travelers to immerse themselves in the stunning landscapes.

In recent years, there has been a growing awareness of the need to protect the fragile ecosystems of Fiordland and Te Anau. Conservation efforts and strict regulations have been put in place to preserve the natural wonders of the region for future generations.

Fiordland Lakes

Fiordland National Park is renowned for its dramatic fiord, lush rainforests, and pristine lakes, with the Fiordland Lakes being a defining feature of this wilderness paradise. These lakes formed, by glaciation mark Fiordland’s eastern boundary. The lakes are effectively freshwater fiords. From north to south they are Te Anau, Manapōuri, Monowai, Hauroko and Poteriteri.

Lake Te Anau

As the largest lake on the South Island and the second largest in New Zealand, Lake Te Anau is a jewel in the crown of Fiordland. Its vast, tranquil waters stretch across 348 square kilometres, reflecting the surrounding snow-capped peaks like a mirror.  It is 212m above sea level, 61 km long and 276 m at its deepest point. Its three fiords – South, Middle and North – separate the Kepler, Murchison, Stuart and Franklin mountains. Lake Te Anau serves as the gateway to Fiordland and is the perfect starting point for exploring the region’s natural wonders. It offers various activities, including boat cruises, kayaking, and fishing, all against the backdrop of awe-inspiring mountain vistas.

Lake Manapouri

Located just a short distance from Lake Te Anau, Lake Manapouri is equally stunning. Often referred to as the “Lake of Many Islands,” it is adorned with numerous small islands covered in lush vegetation with its horizon  dominated by the Kepler Mountains. It is 143 sq km and is often regarded as New Zealand’s most beautiful lake. It was known to Māori as Moturau, and its present-day name appears to have been the result of a surveyor’s error. The lake’s pristine waters make it a haven for fishing, boating, and kayaking. One of its notable features is the West Arm Power Station, an underground hydroelectric power station. It is New Zealand’s largest and was built between 1963 and 1971. To generate power, water is diverted down vertical penstocks at the west arm of the lake into a cathedral-like powerhouse 213 m below ground. Here, seven huge turbines each drive a 100,000-kW generator. The water is discharged along a 10-km tailrace tunnel into Deep Cove in Doubtful Sound.The township of Manapōuri is at the south-east corner of the lake. A popular excursion involves a boat trip to the west arm of the lake, a descent to the powerhouse, a bus ride over Wilmot Pass to Deep Cove and a boat trip up Doubtful Sound to the open sea.

Lake Monowai

Further south in Fiordland lies the lesser-known Lake Monowai. While smaller in size compared to its counterparts. It is boomerang in shape and was raised 2 metres in 1925 to provide more water flow for a power station, which today supplies  about 5% of Southland’s electricity.Lake Monowai boasts an untouched wilderness setting that appeals to those seeking solitude and a deeper connection with nature. Surrounded by native beech forests and teeming with birdlife, it offers an immersive wilderness experience. Tramping (hiking) and camping are popular activities here, allowing visitors to fully appreciate the tranquility and serenity of the Fiordland wilderness. 

Lake Hauroko

South-west of Lake Monowai lies Lake Hauroko, which at 462 m is the deepest lake in New Zealand and the 16th deepest in the world. A Māori burial cave, with remains dating from around 350 years ago, is on Mary Island. The lake is the starting point for a 10-day tramp to Doubtful Sound. Surrounded by lush native forest, it’s a remote and pristine wilderness gem, ideal for kayaking, fishing, and hiking. The lake’s tranquility and stunning vistas are truly captivating.

Lake Poteriteri

Situated in the remote reaches of Fiordland National Park, New Zealand, Lake Poteriteri is a hidden gem cherished by nature enthusiasts. It’s the third-largest lake in the region and offers a serene wilderness experience. With its pristine waters, lush rainforest surroundings, and opportunities for fishing and hiking, Lake Poteriteri provides a tranquil escape into the heart of Fiordland’s unspoiled beauty, making it a must-visit destination for those seeking a deeper connection with nature.

The Fiords of Fiordland

Most of Fiordland (nearly 1 million hectares) was made a scenic reserve in 1904 and a national park in 1952. Much of Fiordland consists of crystalline rocks, including granite. Some of New Zealand’s oldest rocks are found there. Hard and resistant, they retain their form in the face of high rainfall. The area’s high-sided valleys, waterfalls and fiords were formed by glaciers between 75,000 and 15,000 years ago. Fiordland is most famous for its fiords, it is home to 12 fiords, from north to south they are; Milford, Sutherland, Bligh, George, Caswell, Charles, Nancy, Thompson, Doubtful, Dagg, Breaksea and Dusky. And two inlets Chalky and Preservation. These fiords and inlets, each with its unique characteristics, contribute to Fiordland’s diverse and stunning natural landscapes. Here’s a brief overview of each of them:

  1. Milford Sound (Piopiotahi): Milford Sound is the most famous of all the sounds in Fiordland. Often called the 8th Wonder of the World, it is known for its iconic Mitre Peak, dramatic cliffs, and numerous waterfalls, including the impressive Stirling Falls and Bowen Falls. Milford Sound is a popular destination for boat cruises, kayaking, and hiking along the Milford Track.
  2. Sutherland Sound: Located to the south of Milford Sound, Sutherland Sound is a less-visited and quieter fjord. It is known for its serene and remote atmosphere, surrounded by lush rainforests and cascading waterfalls. Sutherland Falls, one of the tallest waterfalls in New Zealand, is a notable attraction in this fiord.
  3. Bligh Sound: Bligh Sound is characterized by its rugged and remote landscapes. It is named after Captain William Bligh of the HMS Bounty fame. The fiord offers opportunities for exploration, including scenic boat cruises, wildlife spotting, and enjoying the solitude of the wilderness.
  4. George Sound: George Sound is one of the less-visited fiords in Fiordland, known for its pristine wilderness and tranquility. It provides opportunities for hiking and boating, and its unspoiled natural beauty is a draw for those seeking solitude and immersion in nature.
  5. Caswell Sound: Caswell Sound is a remote and isolated fiord located to the southwest of George Sound. It is known for its secluded anchorages and opportunities for outdoor adventures, such as kayaking and fishing. The rugged landscapes and pristine waters make it the perfect off-the-beaten-path destination.
  6. Charles Sound: Charles Sound is a fiord known for its stunning scenery and rugged coastlines. It is characterized by steep cliffs and dense rainforests. Exploring Charles Sound typically involves boat cruises or kayaking to fully appreciate its beauty.
  7. Nancy Sound: Nancy Sound is a smaller and less-visited fiord in Fiordland. It is surrounded by dense forests and offers a peaceful escape into the wilderness. The fiord provides opportunities for birdwatching.
  8. Thompson Sound: Thompson Sound is located to the southwest of Doubtful Sound and is known for its serene and secluded atmosphere. It is a destination for those seeking a remote and peaceful experience in Fiordland. Boat cruises and wilderness exploration are common activities here.
  9. Doubtful Sound (Patea): Doubtful Sound is the second-largest fjord in Fiordland and is characterised by its tranquil waters, lush rainforests, and towering cliffs. It offers boat cruises, kayaking, and opportunities to spot wildlife, including bottlenose dolphins and fur seals.
  10. Dagg Sound: Dagg Sound is a smaller and lesser-known fiord in Fiordland. It is located to the northwest of Doubtful Sound and is known for its quiet and remote landscapes. Visitors to Dagg Sound can explore its pristine waters and take in the untouched wilderness.
  11. Breaksea Sound: Breaksea Sound is located to the southwest of Dusky Sound and is known for its striking natural beauty. The fiord is often visited by boat cruises, providing a chance to witness its dramatic cliffs, waterfalls, and wildlife.
  12. Dusky Sound (Tamatea): Dusky Sound is one of the largest and most historically significant fiords in Fiordland. It was visited by Captain James Cook during his explorations of New Zealand. Dusky Sound is known for its rugged landscapes, dense rainforests, and secluded anchorages. It offers opportunities for hiking, boat cruises, and exploring historical sites.
  13. Chalky Inlet: Known for its secluded wilderness, surrounded by dense rainforests and steep cliffs. Its name is derived from the chalky appearance of its waters, caused by freshwater springs meeting the seawater. Visitors can explore the tranquil inlet by kayak or boat, experiencing its unspoiled beauty and listening to the calls of native birds.
  14. Preservation Inlet: Carries historical significance from the early 19th century when Captain Richard Siddons sought refuge here in his sealing ship, the “Preservation.” The inlet showcases rugged landscapes, including steep cliffs and lush rainforests. It serves as a window into New Zealand’s maritime history, offering opportunities for exploration and a chance to connect with the region’s past.

Each of these fjords and inlets in Fiordland contributes to the region’s diverse and stunning natural landscapes. They provide opportunities for outdoor adventures, wildlife encounters, and the chance to immerse oneself in the pristine wilderness of New Zealand’s South Island.

  • We stayed here for only one night prior to our overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound, which is a shame because it was one of the best places we stayed in on our three-week trip around New Zealand, and a longer stay would have been most welcome. Room 12 was large, and beautifully appointed with an extremely comfy bed. Kerri on reception was excellent; efficient and very welcoming about things to do in Te Anau.
    Jinty21 – February 2024  Read Reviews
  • My husband and I spent four glorious nights at Redford’s on the Lake…. What a slice of heaven, with the lake right in front of our eyes…. Kerri was the most gracious, helpful and conscientious host. She knows all about the area, had great restaurant recommendations, where to grocery shop, and what to see and do. And always with a smile. We felt like we were visiting someone’s luxurious vacation home with beautiful linens, lush curtains, several types of pillows for comfort and wallpaper and lots of great amenities. Good/strong Wi-Fi, super comfortable king-size bed, anything, and everything you could imagine you need as a traveller was provided including use of their washer and dryer facility, including laundry detergent,…always a bonus! We hiked three strenuous hikes three days in a row and coming home to the large Jacuzzi bathtub in our bathroom was heaven. Great for sore muscles. Our one-bedroom suite was spacious and luxurious. If we ever get back to Lake Teanau, we will definitely be coming back to Redford’s on the Lake. It’s a five-star plus accommodation with the most gracious owner and staff.
    Freddi W – February 2024  Read Reviews
  • We truly enjoyed our stay at Radford’s on the Lake. Our room was very clean and spacious with a wonderful view of the lake and easy parking. The location was perfect with an easy stroll to town for any restaurants or activities as well as a short drive to Milford Sound. However, the best aspect was the service provided by Kerri. She gave us wonderful recommendations to make the most of our visit and even loaned my husband a raincoat when he forgot his. She truly made us feel welcome.
    Traveller227 – February 2024  Read Reviews
  • Superbly appointed accommodation and lovely view of the lake. All the staff were great too! Fairly short and level walk into town so easy to get to cafes, restaurants and shops. Plenty of parking at the Radfords and in town. Te Anau is a great location to head off into Fjordland - less than an hour to the reserve and only 90 minutes to Milford Sound.
    Ian L – January 2024  Read Reviews
  • We stayed 2 nights in January 2024. What a nice place to stay! A very warm welcome from Kerri, and an introduction to our room. The room was with 2 bedrooms, we travelled as family, nice and clean. The kitchenette was with things we needed for preparing breakfast. Good and comfortable beds, a nice view to the Lake Te Anau. We asked for recommended restaurants and Kerri was nice to show us places for dinner and drew on a map where to go. Excellent service and great hospitality from the management. Our best recommendations to Radfords on the Lake.
    Steenlerche – January 2024  Read Reviews
  • It was the cutest little “motel” we have stayed. The room was beautiful overlooking the lake. We had the first-floor room and had a great view. The name motel only applies to the fact that we could see where we parked our car. However, it felt more luxurious when you got inside. Comfortable bed, clean linens and a very cute little kitchen. The lady at the front desk was wonderful and gave us plenty of Great tips on where to eat. We hope to visit again one day and stay again
    Bella – January 2024  Read Reviews

Our Environmental Promise

We are committed to preserving our beautiful surroundings and reducing our footprint on the environment.

#Radfordsonthelake

SHARE YOUR SPECIAL IMAGES WITH US

Last month we celebrated the amazing Jeanette, an integral member of our team for the last 10 years and long term friend of Kerri's. A team player with the highest standards and an all round bloody good person. Radfords on the Lake would not be the same without her. Jeanette keeps the team in high spirits with her great sense of humour, we're a better team with her on it. Never one to say no to a glass or two of Merlot with some chips and kiwi onion dip after a long day. Jeanette, we want to say a huge thank you for all your hard work over the years, we appreciate you so much. We look forward to many more years together at Radfords on the Lake.
As the sun goes down on another year, we would like to take the opportunity to say a big thank you too all our lovely guests who visited us over the last year. We love sharing  beautiful Te Anau with so many people from near and far. We can't wait to welcome many more visitors in 2024. 

Wishing you all a happy and healthy new from Kerri, Steve, Shelley, Katie and all the team at Radfords on the Lake.
From the Radfords on the Lake family to yours, we wish you a very Merry Christmas 🎅🏽🤶🏼🎄🍾
If you are visiting Te Anau this summer make sure to add a trip on @fiordlandhistoriccruises to your bucket list. Enjoy a leisurely cruise across the south fiord of lake Te Anau into beautiful untouched wilderness. We can help you make a booking before you arrive so you don't miss out.
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#fiordland #fiordlandnationalpark #fiordlandnz #nz #destinationnz #milfordsound #laketeanau #teanau #doubtfulsound #nzmustdo #southislandnz #southisland #newzealand #purenewzealand #purenz #newzealandguide #newzealandvacations #newzealandtravel #dosomethingnewnz #mysouthland #southland
Looking for the perfect present for a loved one this Christmas. Give the gift of a Fiordland Experience. Book a Te Anau getaway now for winter 2023 for just $250 per night.

This special rate is  based on 2 people sharing with a minimum 3 night stay in a Standard Studio or Ground Floor One Bedroom. SAVE up to $100 per night.

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#fiordland #fiordlandnationalpark #fiordlandnz #nz #destinationnz #milfordsound #laketeanau #teanau #doubtfulsound #nzmustdo #southislandnz #southisland #newzealand #purenewzealand #purenz #newzealandguide #newzealandvacations #newzealandtravel #dosomethingnewnz #mysouthland #southland
🎃 H A L L O W E E N  2 0 2 3 🎃
We always get asked how close we are to the centre of town, so we thought we’d show you! Come with us on our short, flat 7 minute walk from Te Anau town centre back to the lake views from Radfords.
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Throwback Thursday! Reminiscing on a great night at the @hospitalitynz Awards for Excellence 2023 back in June. While we didn't win on the night, we were super proud to be a finalist alongside some fantastic motels. And it's always fun to get dressed up in the big city and celebrate our great industry with all our industry friends.
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If you're visiting us during school holidays and your looking for some family friendly activities, make sure a visit to the Te Anau Glowworm Caves with @real.newzealand  is top of your list. This unique Fiordland experience is not to be missed. We can help you make a booking before you arrive or chat to our friendly team when you check-in.

📸 @real.newzealand 
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📸📸📸📸📸📸📸📸📸📸📸⭐😍😏
We made the most of the gorgeous spring weather over the weekend and got out to enjoy one of our favourite things to do in Te Anau, -  a stroll along the lakefront. A must do when you visit us.
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Wow! We can't believe it's the first day of spring. While we love the cosy winter nights we are ready for the longer days and warmer temps. We're looking forward to evenings on the patio sipping a glass of Rosé. Who is planning a Fiordland adventure this spring?

📸 @digitaltravelcouple 
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Fiordland is full of adventures, but after a day of exploring Radfords on the Lake is the perfect place to come back to and relax. Our luxurious rooms provide you with a cosy sanctuary, so you can reflect and recharge on your day. 

📸 @thejoshshaw 

#fiordland #fiordlandnz #lovefiordland #fiordlandbeyondbelief #radfordsonthelake
#fiordland #fiordlandnationalpark #fiordlandnz #nz #destinationnz #milfordsound #laketeanau #teanau #doubtfulsound #nzmustdo #southislandnz #southisland #newzealand #purenewzealand #purenz #newzealandguide #newzealandvacations #newzealandtravel #dosomethingnewnz #mysouthland #southland