Combine the 'must-dos' of Fiordland on a guided day trip. Departing Te Anau, the day consists of two different cruises (Lake Te Anau and Milford Sound), a visit to the Te Anau Glowworm caves, guided nature walk, plus the scenery of the world-famous Milford Road.
This is a great opportunity to visit Fiordland National Park, an UNESCO World Heritage Area, and experience two of our most popular trips in one day, accompanied by a local guide. All the elements of the day's itinerary run seamlessly to ensure the best possible experience and maximising your time in this beautiful region.
Tours depart from the Real Journeys Visitor Centre, 85 Lakefront Drive, Te Anau.
Note: Photography and video filming are NOT permitted inside the cave. Some bending is required at the caves entrance and steps are involved.
The Te Anau Glowworm Caves (part of the Aurora cave system) were discovered on the western shores of Lake Te Anau by Lawson Burrows in 1948. By geological standards the caves are very young (12,000 years) and are still being carved out by the force of the river that flows through them. The result is a twisting network of limestone passages filled with sculpted rock, whirlpools and a roaring underground waterfall. Deep inside the caves, there is a silent hidden grotto inhabited by hundreds of glowworms which in the subterranean darkness produce a glittering display.
The Maori name 'Te Ana-au' translates as 'the swirling cave'.
Lake Gunn is situated within Fiordland National Park, off the Milford Road in the Eglinton Valley, around 70km from Te Anau. This lake was discovered back in 1861 by George Gunn and David McKellar, two Southland runholders. The west branch of the Eglinton River runs through Lake Gunn and on the western shore is Melita Peak which rises to 1680m.
There is extensive red beech forest, moss covered trees and pebble beaches at the lake edge. There is almost every shade of green amongst the living trees, and flora on the forest floor. Birds such as tomtits, kakariki, riflemen and robins frequent the valley.
Milford Sound is the most well-known and most accessible of all the fiords in New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park, a World Heritage Area. Its 16 kilometre (14 nautical miles) length is lined by sheer rock faces that soar 1,200 metres (3,900 ft) or more from the water. At 1692 metres, the iconic Mitre Peak is a spectacular sight and New Zealand’s most photographed mountain.
Milford Sound is in the heart of a rainforest (annual rainfall is 6,813mm or 268 inches) which creates walls of temporary waterfalls on a wet day receding to just two permanent waterfalls (Lady Bowen Falls and Stirling Falls) in drier conditions.
Glorious on a fine day, Milford Sound’s ethereal, moody beauty in the rain is equally spectacular.Book
For many years, these caves were lost in legend. Their presence was hinted at only by the ancient Maori names for the area – Te Ana-au – which means ‘caves with a current of swirling water’.
They remained hidden until their rediscovery by explorer Lawson Burrows in 1948.
In case you haven't found the information you were looking for, we've put together some of the most common questions our customers ask about our trips. If you need more specific answers, please contact us directly.
While we cannot guarantee you will see wildlife, sightings of fur seals are reasonably common in both Doubtful and Milford Sounds. A pod of bottlenose dolphins resides in Doubtful Sound so you have a good chance of seeing these fascinating mammals, and in Milford Sound dolphins are occasional visitors. In both sounds the rare Fiordland crested penguin can at times be observed.
Fiordland’s weather is what gives the region its unique character. Rainfall is what makes Fiordland a land of lakes, rivers, streams, waterfalls and fiords. Visitors should always be prepared to enjoy some rainfall during their stay. It is recommended to bring sensible clothing for cool and wet weather to fully appreciate your stay.
The temperatures you can expect in the different seasons are as follows:
Throughout Fiordland the fiords are officially mapped as sounds. Strictly speaking, they should be called fiords.
A fiord is a glaciated valley - typically narrow and steep-sided - that has been flooded by the sea after the glacier’s retreat. A sound, on the other hand, is a river valley flooded by the sea following a rise in sea levels or depression of the land, or a combination of both.
The Milford Sound Levy is paid to the Milford Sound Tourism authority and helps to maintain, preserve and develop the Fiord. For more information, see the Milford Sound Tourism website.
Many say you have not seen Fiordland unless you have seen it in the rain. When it rains in Fiordland the landscape is dramatic - rock faces stream with waterfalls, mist hangs around the tops of the mountains and rivers and streams rage. From a dry comfortable vantage point on the bus or boat, this landscape is spectacular for sightseeing.
Inside the caves the temperature is a fairly constant 8 - 12ºCelsius, so bring a warm sweater/fleece jacket.
At the entrance to the caves there is a large rock overhang and bending is required to pass this section.
There are steps and often the walkways are wet, so care is required in the subdued light.
Photography and video cameras are not permitted in the Glowworm Caves because flash lights affect the glowworms and visitor acclimatisation to the dark.
From Queenstown to Te Anau by car or coach takes around 2 hrs 45 mins and from Manapouri around 30 minutes. For more information refer to our Driving Times webpage.
Our staff are trained to deal with incidents and in case of an emergency you should listen to their instructions.
We have a portable defibrillator on each of our overnight cruise vessels (Milford Mariner, Milford Wanderer and Fiordland Navigator).
In addition to this we also have portable defibrillators at the following locations:
• Milford Sound Visitor Terminal
• Real Journeys Visitor Centre, Manapouri
• Cavern House (Te Anau Glowworm Caves)
• Colonel’s Homestead Restaurant, Walter Peak
• TSS Earnslaw Vintage Steamship
• Stewart Island Ferry (Bluff - Oban - Bluff).
All prices and transactions on the Real Journeys website are in New Zealand dollars (NZD). This is specified on the Terms & Conditions page.