Travelling to what feels like the ends of the earth does have a few costs involved. But once you get here, there are plenty of world-class experiences in Te Anau you can enjoy that’s under $50 or free. Pristine wilderness, local hidden gems, the fun, the quirky and the memorable – it’s all part of the charm and beauty of discovering this slice of paradise on earth.
Te Anau Bird Sanctuary
Visit some of Fiordland’s rarest birds including the takahē and kākā at the Te Anau Bird Sanctuary set on the beautiful shores of Lake Te Anau. Open to the public from dawn until dusk, entry is free, but donations are greatly appreciated. It’s self-guided so you can explore at your own pace to enjoy the aviaries, displays, grounds and of course wildlife photography.
The birds held in aviaries here have either been injured and cannot survive in the wild, or they are involved in captive rearing programmes for them to be rehabilitated and hopefully released back into the wild.
There are also daily feeding tours with Department of Conservation rangers if you want to learn more about these unique birds on a guided visit.
Daily feeding tour times are 9:30 am (1 October – 31 March) and 10:30 am (1 April – 30 September).
Discover Te Anau’s Trout Observatory with a $2 gold coin entry fee. Located just across from the Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre with plenty of street parking, it’s a fun and easy outing for everyone in the family to enjoy. You’ll be able to view local brown and rainbow trout as well as some koura (freshwater crayfish).
Local Fishing Spots
Fiordland is known for some of the best trout fishing in the world. Beautiful wilderness, remote off the beaten track locations and stunning clear waters make for some great days out fishing. There are some popular local spots to chase trout all year-round on Lake Te Anau just along where Te Anau’s Town Centre meets Lakefront Drive.
The largest of Southland rivers, the Wairua River is another prime spot for some fishing which drains Lake Te Anau into Lake Manapouri.
Lake Henry in Ivon Wilson Park is stocked with rainbow and brown trout and serves as a children’s fishery. You can get free fishing licenses for children (12 years and under) from the Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre.
Walk This Way
With Fiordland dubbed as the walking capital of the world, you are absolutely spoiled for choice when it comes to walking tracks. There are three New Zealand Great Walks to choose from (Kepler, Milford and Routeburn Tracks) as well as an extensive network of single-day or multi-day hikes for you to explore in the area. Just goes to show that the best things in life really are free.
Ivon Wilson Park
Ivon Wilson Park is a hidden gem located an easy walk along Lakefront Drive. This 35 h a reserve is a beautiful natural wonderland full of native and exotic trees, complete with walking tracks and mountain bike trails leading to picturesque Lake Henry, a children’s fishery and its very own Frisbee Golf course to boot. A great place to spend the day to picnic, play and explore.
Lion Lookout Point
Located along Ramparts Road, about a 5-minute drive from Te Anau is a stunning spot for elevated views of Te Anau and surrounds, including the majestic Southern Alps. This lookout point is a great spot to watch the sunrise or sunset, enjoy a panoramic picnic and capture some very Instagram worthy photos to share. There is a carpark and viewing platform, but no other facilities so make sure you stock up in Te Anau beforehand.