I grew up in a small town called Te Anau. It is known as the walking capital of NZ right on the doorstep of Fiordland National Park. I was fortunate to have parents who loved the outdoors and who also worked in conservation.
This meant that every school holiday and most weekends I was taken out into the wilderness on adventures. I was given a film camera when I was just twelve years old and my passion for photography grew from there.
Fiordland is one of New Zealand’s most precious areas. It’s larger than most people think or ever see. I love it for its ever-changing atmosphere and incredible bird life. I have probably seen more than most, yet I have barely scratched the surface of this amazing region of the south island.
I often hear stories from my dad about climbing different mountains in Fiordland – all of which are completely off-track and hard to access. That is one of the awesome things about Fiordland. There will always be new valleys to explore, new waterfalls to see and new mountains to climb.
My Favourite Places in Fiordland
It’s almost impossible for me to pinpoint my favourite place in Fiordland as there are so many incredible destinations. So I will keep Fiordland as my favourite spot. I have highlights though which are my top experiences.
These experiences include walking under the Sutherland Falls on the Milford Track, Lake Mackenzie on the Routeburn Track, Dusky Track, Chalky Island, Doubtful and Milford Sound. Each one of these places gives you a sense of remoteness. You know how grand this place is when you arrive.
5 Best Things To Do in Fiordland
Fiordland is one of the most beautiful parts of New Zealand and the best part is that it’s off the beaten tourist path. This means you’ll get to experience nature in its purest form without big crowds. There’s so much to discover – so let’s get started with the top 5 adventures in Fiordland.
1. Hike one of the Great Walks like Milford Track
I recommend doing one of Fiordland’s Great Walks – the Kepler, Milford or Routeburn tracks. They are all as good as each other but the Milford Track would be my personal favourite out of the three. It’s known as the ‘finest walk in the world’ and goes for 53.5 km taking up to 4 days to complete.
2. Take an Overnight Cruise in Milford Sound
Milford Sound is the centerpiece of Fiordland and as soon as you arrive you will marvel at its beauty. Don’t mind rainy days too. In fact, I prefer the rain for the magnificent waterfalls and moody atmosphere it creates. If you can afford it, take an overnight cruise in Milford Sound and enjoy the spectacle.
3. Go Kayaking on the Majestic Doubtful Sound
Doubtful Sound is another epic spot. It’s the perfect place to go kayaking and if you get lucky to see dolphins playing. The best thing is that you are at their level which is more special than looking down on dolphins from a boat (I’m still waiting for that perfect jumping dolphin photo).
4. Jump in a Plane or Helicopter for a Scenic Flight
There is no better way to take in the grandeur of Fiordland’s natural beauty than by taking a scenic plane or helicopter flight. The views are unbeatable and it is the only way to really get a feel for the size of Fiordland. Admire a sea of mountain peaks, shimmering lakes and jaw-dropping fjords.
5. Enjoy the Adventures on offer in Te Anau
I recommend staying in Te Anau for a night or more. It is nowhere near as commercialised as Queenstown and is just as beautiful. Te Anau is also a lot closer to Fiordland and all of its activities. The town offers great adventures including golf, biking, tramping, fishing, the list goes on.
Tips for your Visit to Fiordland
My main travel tip would be to spend a decent amount of time in Fiordland and not to rush your trip. If the Milford Road is closed for a day or more (which can happen), you want to be able to go when the road reopens.
I recommend going with a tour company into Milford Sound as well. This way you can focus on the surroundings instead of driving while also stopping at the best spots. You will be helping conservation as each company has to pay fees for their walks. Trips and Tramps is a great option.
If you want the best of the best when it comes to accommodation then Fiordland Lodge Te Anau or Cabot Lodge are two places I would highly recommend. However, there are many fantastic hotels, motels and airbnbs around Te Anau that will suit your preferences and budget.
I would like to leave you with one of my favourite memories of Fiordland. It was when I was cruising with Real Journeys on Doubtful Sound. We were heading up Hall Arm and there was this perfect reflection of all the mountains. It was like a fantasy world that didn’t seem real!
I have never seen anything like it while on a moving boat. That’s all from me. Thanks for reading my blog on Fiordland and I look forward to seeing you in this precious region of New Zealand in the not too distant future.