Fiordland National Park

Travel Guide Oceania Polynesia New Zealand South Island Fiordland National Park



Milford Sound - South Island

Milford Sound - South Island

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Fiordland National Park is New Zealand's largest national park, taking up 12,500 kmĀ² in the southwest corner of South Island. It forms a large part of Te Wahipounamu, a UNESCO World Heritage site inscribed for its rich natural environment. There are 14 fiords in the national park, but only two are commonly visited by tourists: Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound. Of these, only Milford Sound is easily accessible - though "easily" here still entails a two and a half hour drive from the nearest town, Te Anau.



Sights and Activities

Milford Sound

Milford Sound is the only fiord that can be reached by road and for this reason it is the most popular destination within the park. Visitors can kayak on the sound, book a cruise (including overnight cruises), fly over it, or stay at Milford Lodge. There are also excellent short walking tracks in the area, as well as the famous Milford Track (see below).

Doubtful Sound

Doubtful Sound is harder to access, but as a result it also receives far less visitors than its popular cousin, Milford Sound. The only way to reach Doubtful Sound is by a boat trip, followed by a bus journey. If you make the effort (and pay the price), Doubtful Sound will reward you with an incredible experience. It's a serene, impressive spectacle.

Te Anau

Te Anau is the primary town in the national park, set on the southeast edge of Lake Te Anau. It is a launching pad for guided and independent tours of Milford Sound, but it's a beautiful destination in its own right, with Mount Luxmore and the Murchison Mountains rising up behind it. Te Anau is also known as a great place for avid walkers, as it is a departure point for many walks, and you can also book a boat transfer to all three of the Great Walks in Fiordland National Park (see below).


Manapouri is located just 20 minutes from Te Anau and is a scenic, attractive town on Lake Manapouri. It's a popular stop along the Southern Scenic Route, which skirts the eastern edge of the national park before veering westward towards Invercargill. Manapouri is also a good place to base yourself if you plan to visit Doubtful Sound, as the trip to the Sound begins with a boat journey across the lake.




There are several popular walking tracks in Fiordland National Park, including three "Great Walks" (considered to be some of New Zealand's best walking tracks).

Information about all the walks can be found at the Department of Conservation website.

Milford Track

Milford Track is a Great Walk stretching for over 50 kilometres from the northern tip of Lake Te Anau to Milford Sound, passing through glaciated valleys, an alpine pass and some spectacular scenery. This is a 4 to 5 day walk requiring at least moderate fitness, and you have to book it well in advance. You can do it independently or as part of a guided tour, but either way you have to book it, unless you're going in the off-peak season. The price for booking the track (which includes your stay at three huts along the way; camping is not permitted) is $162 in peak season and $15 off-peak. For more information about the walk, including booking info, visit the Department of Conservation website.

Routeburn Track

Routeburn Track, also a Great Walk, is a 32 kilometre track extending through Mount Aspiring National Park and Fiordland National Park. It makes its way from the head of Lake Wakatipu to the Te Anau - Milford Road and can be started at either end. The walk can be done independently or with a guide and takes three to four days. It requires moderate to high level fitness. With dramatic alpine scenery, lakes and diverse forests, it's well worth the effort. See the Department of Conservation website for more information.

Kepler Track

Kepler Track is the longest of the three Great Walks in Fiordland NP, stretching for 60 km in a roughy circular route that starts and ends at Lake Te Anau. It runs along the edge of the lake, through mountain beech forest, onto exposed mountaintops and glacial valleys, affording beautiful views of the Southern Alps. This track takes 3 to 4 days and can only be done independently. You need to have moderate to high level fitness. See the Department of Conservation website for more information.



Getting There and Around

By road you can reach the edge of the park. Excess is from Te Anau north towards the end at the Milford Sound.


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This is version 8. Last edited at 8:45 on Jun 4, 13 by Sander. 8 articles link to this page.

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