Nestled on the border of a national park and world heritage site, Te Anau is a scenic township that sits at the edge of the largest lake in the South Island region. With so many unforgettable natural attractions surrounding the town, Te Anau is the perfect base to start your adventure. It’s not hard to see why Te Anau is called “The Walking Capital of the World” – the three New Zealand’s Great Walks (of nine) located near town speak for themselves.
The Te Anau township is the main gateway to Fiordland National Park, the largest of the 14 national parks in New Zealand. The park is a major part of the Wahipounamu World Heritage Site, where visitors can see magnificent fiords, impressive peaks and some of the world’s highest waterfalls. Fiordland is home to New Zealand’s most acclaimed tourist destination, Milford Sound, a fiord that has been referred to as the “eighth Wonder of the World.” This attraction draws up to one million visitors per year, despite its remote location relative to the rest of New Zealand. Lake Te Anau is also an attractive site, resting at the feet of striking, rugged mountains. The lake is a popular summer recreation spot for water skiing, swimming, fishing and kayaking. Visitors can also go on a boat cruise, take a scenic flight tour, hunt or go lake diving. To corral a few outdoor activities into one excursion, sign up for a tour of the Te Anau Glowworm Caves. After a cruise across Te Anau Lake, visitors take a short hike, followed by a boat ride deep into the 15,000-year-old caves, to see thousands of glowworms light up the interior. The attractions in Te Anau might seem dim in comparison to the glowworms, but there’s still plenty to do in the township itself. You’ll find a variety of dining options at the local cafes and restaurants and shopping facilities for apparel, amenities and souvenirs.
With the bevy of sights in this part of South Island, there are plenty of day and overnight trip routes visitors can choose from. Fiordland National Park, Piopiotahi Marine Reserve and Te Wahipounamu World Heritage site can take entire days to explore. The greater Fiordland area also has a wealth of opportunities for adventure. Visitors can take a scenic helicopter flight over the national park, hike along the Kepler Track or go fishing on the Waiau River. But no place prescribes an adrenaline rush quite like Queenstown, adventure sports capital of New Zealand. Located on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown offers activities such as bungee jumping off the Kawarau Gorge suspension bridge and jet boating across the lake. Even if you aren’t a sports enthusiast, Queenstown is a great starting point for exploring the historic mining sites and vineyards in the region.
There are over 4,000 beds available for travelers to rest their weary heads. Choose comfort and style by booking a room at a lodge, hotel or motel in town. Brush shoulders with the locals, and perhaps save a few bucks, through a home or farm stay. Find an entire range of accommodations at a holiday park, from camp and caravan sites to backpacker dorms or motel rooms. Holiday parks feature amenities such as free Wi-Fi, bicycle rentals and even hot tub facilities, for added convenience. Glamping, an upgrade from good old-fashioned camping, might be just the thing for people who appreciate both nature and plush comforts. Renting an apartment or cottage would provide more space, privacy and self-servicing facilities that families or larger parties might seek.
New Zealand offers a unique form of transportation for backpacker travel. Campervans rentals allow backpackers to create their own schedule and stop overnight anywhere in the country. There are also plenty of bus, shuttle and train services that travel across New Zealand. Tracknet provides daily scheduled passenger bus and coach services to and from Te Anau to the surrounding South Island areas. InterCity is also a bus network that offers inexpensive rides to Queenstown, starting from just $1 plus the booking fee. But, if scenic drives or long distance travel are a big part of the trip, renting a car might be a better option.
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