While it’s not as famous as Queenstown, Auckland or Christchurch, Te Anau attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists every year thanks to its proximity to well-known attractions like Milford Sound, multiple New Zealand Great Walks and of course, the famous Te Anau Glowworm caves. But this tucked away town has plenty to offer so make sure you add these Te Anau activities and experiences to your list of things to do in New Zealand.
1. Te Anau Glowworm Caves
No trip to this side of the world is complete without a visit to a glow worm cave. These bioluminescent insects light up a dark cave for a truly magical experience. You’ll first start with a scenic cruise across Lake Te Anau, the largest lake on the South Island. If you’d like, there is an option to add a short guided forest experience to see the unique plants and flora of the region.
Then, you’ll enter the caves. Relatively speaking, these caves are quite young (12,000 years old) and are still being continuously shaped and carved out by the river to this day. As you navigate these limestone passages, a knowledgeable guide will share information and history about the caves, whirlpools and underground waterfall, each of which is a more incredible natural wonder than the last.
You may have heard of the Great Walks – nine hiking trails around the country that take you through some of the most amazing scenery, from mountains to lakes to valleys. These tracks are well maintained by the government’s Department of Conservation. Te Anau is close to three of them – the Milford Track, Routeburn Track and Kepler Track. Whether you choose to do an entire track or just part of one, make sure it’s included on your New Zealand itinerary.
Walk the great Milford Track
3. Milford Sound
Te Anau is known as the gateway to Fiordland, so naturally something you must do when visiting Te Anau is go to Milford Sound. Known internationally as the eighth wonder of the world, Milford Sound showcases majestic mountains, fiords, waterfalls and wildlife like penguins, dolphins and seals. Experience Milford Sound on a leisurely cruise, or take a scenic flight over one of the most beautiful places in the world.
Doubtful Sound is Milford Sound’s lesser known sibling, yet every bit as stunning and majestic. Also situated in Fiordland National Park, Doubtful Sound is three times longer and about ten times larger than Milford Sound. The best way to experience Doubtful Sound is either via an overnight cruise or by kayak so you can get up close and personal with the wildlife.
While Fiordland is home to many types of animals, it can be hard to see them in the wild. One of the best things to do in Te Anau is visit the Te Anau Bird Sanctuary to see birds like Takahe, an indigenous flightless bird, Kaka, endangered native parrots, and more. This is a great free activity suitable for families.
6. Enjoy the lake
Did you know that Lake Te Anau is the largest lake on New Zealand’s South Island? Spend a day enjoying this beautiful glacial lake, whether you choose to kayak, swim or go fishing. While there’s no shortage of things to do in Te Anau, a relaxing day at the lake can be perfect for your holiday.
New Zealand is one of the best places in the world to enjoy farm-to-table dining, or even lake-to-table dining. While in Te Anau, sample some of the local fare including venison, lamb, crayfish and plenty of fresh seafood. Redcliff Café is a great option for authentic Fiordland cuisine for both lunch and dinner. Don’t miss out on Kiwi classics such as fish and chips and savoury pies as well – the venison pies at Miles Better Pies are famous.
Learn more about what to do in Te Anau, and start planning your trip today!