Dubbed as the walking capital of the world, Fiordland is a natural wonderland made for exploring with your own two feet. With three New Zealand Great Walks in Fiordland, it’s an absolute mecca for walkers from all over the world.
The Routeburn Track, Milford Track and the Kepler Track Great Walks are multi-day hikes with well-graded tracks that take about 3-4 days to complete and require bookings for huts and campsites well in advance.
But if you are looking for alternative day walks in and around Te Anau, there are plenty of stunning options that are easily accessible, with a variety of scenery and experiences to enjoy.
Here are six incredible day walks around Te Anau to look into and fit into your itinerary.
Fiordland Visitor Centre to Te Anau Bird Sanctuary
The Punanga Manu o Te Anau/Te Anau Bird Sanctuary is a must-visit when in Te Anau. Set on the shores of Lake Te Anau, it’s an easy 15-minute walk from the Te Rua-o-te-Moko/Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre. You’ll be able to view some of Fiordland’s special birds that are often difficult to see in the wild. Open from dawn until dusk, the sanctuary is home to some of Fiordland’s special birds including the rare flightless takahe, and the beautiful native forest parrot kākā. DOC rangers provide a daily feeding tour during the summer season at 9.30 am (1 October – 31 March) and over winter at 10.30 am (1 April – 30 September). Entry is free for self-guided visitors, but a donation is greatly appreciated to help with the running of the sanctuary.
Fiordland Visitor Centre to Ivon Wilson Park
Just a 15-minute (1km) walk from the Fiordland Visitor Centre along Lakefront Drive, Ivon Wilson Park is a 35-hectare wonderland that surrounds the picturesque Lake Henry. This hidden gem is a perfect place to stroll amidst towering trees and a lush native forest. Lake Henry is stocked with rainbow and brown trout so kids can pick up a free fishing license at the Visitor Centre to cast a line or two. With a mountain bike track, a network of marked nature trails, as well as a frisbee golf course, you can easily and happily spend most of your day here.
Luxmore Hut to Te Anau (Heli-hike on Kepler Track)
For those keen on a spectacular day walk that takes you to the summit of a New Zealand Great Walk all in one day, then the Fiordland Heli-hike option is for you. You’ll get the best land, lake and air experience in half a day. This package combines a short scenic flight from Lake Te Anau, to the famous Luxmore Hut on the Kepler Track, an easy-going downhill hike to Brod Bay and finishes off with a short boat cruise to town to top off your day. For those who have a bit more time, there’s an option to walk to the summit from Luxmore Hut (2hrs return). When you think that your day couldn’t get any better, there are also some fascinating limestone caves to explore on your way down to Brod Bay.
Frasers Beach, Manapouri
If you’re looking for a great sunset walk, then Frasers Beach in Manapouri is a spectacular option. The 30-minute Frasers Beach walking track starts and finishes at either Pearl Harbour, Manapouri or Frasers Beach road entrance just north of Manapouri township – about 21 km from Te Anau. It’s an easy scenic walk great for families, offering fantastic swimming and picnic spots with panoramic views of Lake Manapouri against the awe-inspiring mountain range.
Lake 2 Lake Trail
Beginning at the Fiordland Visitor Centre, the Lake2Lake Trail runs alongside Lake Te Anau and the East side of the Waiau river towards Lake Manapouri. With many access points along the way, the 28 km shared trail from Fiordland Visitor Centre to Manapouri is open for walkers, runners and cyclists, including e-bikes. Rated as a wide, grade 2 easy track, this is a fantastic trail for families to enjoy together with scenic lake, river, forest and mountain views along the way – as well as lots of great picnic spots to stop and take it all in.
Fiordland Visitor Centre to Te Anau centre
The lakefront walk from Fiordland Visitor Centre to Te Anau is a short but sweet stroll that’s only 1km to the centre of Te Anau. There is a foot path that leads right down to the boat harbour and then you can continue on pass the rodeo grounds and right to the mouth of the Upukerora River.
From there you can choose to walk back the way you came or follow the gravel road along the river back to the main road – the Te Anau Milford Highway and then back to the town centre. Along the way this will give you some stunning views of the Murchison Mountains.
A scenic flight and walk combo is one of the best ways to get a feel for Fiordland – to discover on foot then by air the vast and breathtaking wonders of this World Heritage Area. Southern Lakes Helicopters offers a variety of scenic flights and experiences to numerous spectacular locations for every budget with the option to add the Fiordland Heli-hike on to selected Fiordland scenic flights.