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With dramatic mountain backdrops, unspoiled surroundings and magical lakes, Te Anau and Manapouri offer outdoor activities and tranquil surroundings from which to discover Fiordland National Park.

Bordered on one side by lush forest, Lake Te Anau is the South Island’s largest lake, and New Zealand’s second largest. The town of Te Anau sits on the lakeshore looking across to the magnificent Mount Luxmore and Murchison mountain ranges. Te Anau is also known as ‘the walking capital of the world’, being close to three of New Zealand’s great walks: the Kepler, Routeburn and Milford Track. Described as the ‘gateway to Fiordland’, Milford Sound is a picturesque two-hour drive away.  

Also on the shores of Lake Te Anau is the Punanga Manu o Te Anau/Te Anau Bird Sanctuary, home to a number of New Zealand’s rare and unique birds that are often difficult to see in the wild. Amongst them is the flightless takahē, the kākā - a native forest parrot - and the kererū, the New Zealand pigeon.

Often labelled the loveliest of all lakes, Lake Manapouri is set against the spectacular Cathedral Mountain range, and consists of 33 small islands, sandy beaches and coves with native bush-fringed edges.

As well as the departure point for excursions to Doubtful Sound and trips to the West Arm Power Station, Manapouri offers a variety of walks along the Manapouri Track – where walks range from four-hour strolls to overnight hikes to Hope Arm and Mount Titiroa, with the chance to spot interesting birdlife and spectacular views along the way. A host of more remote tracks are accessible around the lake.

Fans of the ‘Lord of the Rings’ films can also visit locales used in the films, including the Waiau River (River Anduin) and the Kepler Mire (Dead Marshes).

View suggested itinerary

Key info

  • Where: South Island, New Zealand

Wildlife trips

This location is featured in the following itinerary:

Kiwis & Whales Galore: South Island Self-drive

This self-drive of New Zealand’s South Island showcases dramatic scenery, from sandy beaches to picturesque snow-capped mountains. Highlights include cetacean-rich Kaikoura, the Otago Peninsula - home to the endangered yellow-eyed penguin - and Stewart Island for southern brown kiwis.

  • When to go: Sep-May
  • Duration inc. flights: 23 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £6,395 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea
Suggested accommodation is shown below. Please contact us for further recommendations.

Te Anau Lodge

Te Anau Lodge offers the opportunity to experience traditional New Zealand hospitality in hosted accommodation, combined with its unique heritage as a restored former Sisters of Mercy Convent from the 1930’s. Each of the nine guestrooms offers modern facilities whilst retaining historic charm.