Photo credit: Shotover Media
Lying at the borders of Fiordland National Park, Te Anau is a popular spot for those on their way to Milford Sound or about to do one of New Zealand’s Great Walks.
The world famous Milford Track begins at the head of Lake Te Anau. This 53.5 km hike traverses rainforests, wetlands and an alpine pass, finishing in Milford Sound.
The Kepler Track starts at Lake Te Anau’s southern end, the 60 km circular walking track encompasses some of New Zealand’s most beautiful scenery. The track is also home to the Kepler mountain running challenge. Held on the first Saturday in December since 1988, runners from around the world ascend 1350 meters to complete the 60 km track. Winners have finished the track in around 4.5 - 5 hours, while enthusiastic amateur runners can expect to finish in around 11 hours.
In Māori legend, the great ocean-going waka (canoe) known as Uruao, explored the Southern Lakes area led by Rākaihautū and his wife Waiariki-o-āio. After a period of particularly rainy weather, the group found a large, beautiful lake which they named Te Ana Au ‘the cave of rain.’
It’s the most voluminous lake in New Zealand, covering a 344 km² area with depths of up to 400m.
Te Anau has a large range of accommodation, having over 4,000 beds and a number of shops and restaurants. It’s a popular stop off for adventurers and boasts fantastic local natural attractions.
In summer, the lake is perfect for a wide range of water sports and activities. From swimming, kayaking, water skiing to fishing and scenic boat cruises, Lake Te Anau has it all.
Located on the fringes of the national park, Te Anau is a great place to spot rare and unique native birds. The rediscovered Takahe, a flightless alpine bird and Kaka, Tui and Kea can all be seen at Te Anau’s Wildlife Park. Home of just two native mammals (both a variety of bat), New Zealand is truly the land of the birds and catching a glimpse of these special native species is a must.
The Te Anau Glowworm Cave is another natural wonder. At 15,000 years old, the cave is relatively young and a rare example of a ‘living cave,’ still under formation. Tourism operator Real Journeys offers a boat cruise and guided tour of the cave. Deep inside, thousands of tiny bioluminescent glow worms light up the caves like stars in the night sky. The town that connects Milford Sound and Queenstown by road, Te Anau is the perfect stop-over location with plenty to discover.