Fiordland National Park Trip Guide

Fiordland National Park is located in the southwest corner of New Zealand’s South Island. Covering an area of 7700 miles, it is the largest national park in the country and its also part of the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Site. The Park features awe-inspiring mountain to sea vistas coupled with breathtaking lakes and valleys as well as its trademark ice-carved fiords.

The best time to visit the National Park is during the warmest period, in December, January, and February. The unpredictable weather consisting of at least 200 rainy days a year can affect your schedule, but the rain also forms thousands of waterfalls cascading on the side of mountains.

Fiordland National Park

The Fiordland National Park features a wide variety of sightseeing opportunities, attractions, wildlife, and activities will create an immersive adventure for any visitor. The numerous events found both in the park and in the nearby cities will allow you to get accustomed to the locals and their culture. The unique and rich history of the region coupled with the untouched landscapes of the park makes the Fiordland National Park a top destination for all types of tourists.

How to get there:

The park is open to visitors the entire year. However, no matter when you decide to visit, it can be as dangerous as it is spectacular for those unprepared. So before you embark on your journey we recommend consulting the safety guidelines for Fiordland.

There are multiple ways visitors can reach the park:

  • Road access: the local town of Te Anau is the gateway to the Fiordland National Park. It can be reached through State Highway 6 (SH) and SH94 from Queenstown or SH94 and SH1 from Invercargill. You can either rent a car or take the bus from these locations.
  • Air access: you can reach the Fiordland region by air thanks to local airports in Te Anau, Manapouri and Milford Sound. They offer both commercial flights and private services.
  • Boat access: visitors can also reach the Park by sea thanks to boat services starting from Milford Sound, Bluff, and Doubtful Sound.

Consult the complete list of transportation services both to and inside the park with information concerning prices, contact info, and their schedule.

Main Attractions

Fiordland National Park features a wide variety of attractions from the incredible vistas of granite mountains reflecting in the clear water of the lakes to the forested valleys of the fjords. Deserving of special notice are the landscapes features in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. The park has something to see and a lot to do for everyone.

Landscapes:

  • Hollyford Valley: visitors can explore this isolated and forested valley, rich in wildlife, where the river flows from the Fiordland mountains to the west coast sea.
  • Southern Fjords area: found along the southwest coast of the South Islands, the fjords offer an awe-inspiring view and an insight of the forces that shaped our world.
  • Lake Monoway area: entering this region feels like stepping into another world thanks to its unbelievable scenery of granite mountain peaks passing through the clouds and reflecting in the lake. You can even see the remains of the world’s largest landslide.
  • Tuatapere area: experience the breathtaking intertwining between the sea and the mountains. You can also visit various heritage sites like the Port Craig School Hut among others and learn more about their unique history.
  • Te Anau Glowworm Caves: a system of geologically active caves and sculptured rocks inhabited by glowworms that emit enchanting lights.
  • Lake Manapouri: is surrounded by the Kepler, Turret Range, and Hunter Mountain with which forms an incredible scenery. It also includes the Waiau River known as the Anduin River for fans of the movies, as well as the Kepler Mire which can be recognized as the film’s Dead Marshes.
Kepler Mire overview

Source

Wildlife:

  • Flora: the Fiordland features a wide variety of plant life, from beech forests clinging on the steep mountains with rocks covered in moss. The more wet areas of the park feature a wider variety of plants including shrubs, tree ferns, moss, and lichens.
  • Fauna: the diversity of landscapes and plant life lead to a variety of animal life including several threatened species like the Takahe. The region has many types of birds as well as more common animals like deer, goats, pigs and possums. The park is also rich in sea life. Visitors on the coast can see dolphins, penguins while divers can see the world’s biggest population of black coral trees, at around seven million colonies.

Learn more about the wildlife and conservation efforts in the Fiordland.

Activities:

  • Walking & trekking: Fiordland National Park is known as the Walking Capital of the World. It features a high number of routes and track of various difficulty and duration that allows adventurers to see the main landscapes of the park. Some of the tracks are the 2-3 hours Hanging Valley trek and the Dusky Track that lasts 8-10 days.
  • Cycling: visitors can ride a bike around Te Anau and Manapouri as well as in select regions of the park like the Hollyford Valley and Borland Road.
  • Fishing: thanks to its high number of lakes and coastal region, the park offers fishing opportunities for all enthusiasts.
  • Hunting: the park’s population of red deer is thriving, so much so that it’s currently a threat to the ecosystem. Hunting is allowed as an attempt to remedy this problem.
  • Boating, kayaking & rafting: the park’s high number of lakes, rivers, and fjords coupled with access to the sea make it an excellent place to enjoy these activities.
  • Diving & snorkeling: thanks to the ten marine reserves found in the Fiordland National Park, visitors can enjoy scuba diving and snorkeling while exploring the spectacular underwater scenery.

Feel free to consult a more comprehensive list of all the available activities in the park as well as information regarding the local companies, their prices, and schedules.

Events:

  • Te Anau Rodeo: this is one of the favorite events of the year and offers tourists an opportunity to see horsemanship and stock handling. Visit the official website for more information about the rodeo.
  • Te Anau Tartan Festival: Scottish themed festival with highland games and dancing, whiskey tasting and other activities.
  • Manapouri Art Group: an annual Labour Weekend Art Exhibition held at the Manapouri Lakeview Motor Inn.
  • Asics Kepler Challenger & Luxmore Grunt: a unique marathon event started in 1988, covering a distance of 60 km through amazing landscapes.
  • Te Anau Enduro: a friendly competition of biking and kayaking around the Te Anau Lake.

See the complete list of events for the Fiordland National Park and the surrounding towns.

Accommodations:

Fiordland National Park has different types of accommodations depending on your budget and preferences.

  • Hotels: the nearby towns of Te Anau and Monopouri have a wide selection of excellent hotels and motels alike. Some of the most popular ones include the Bella Vista motel with prices starting at $150 and Radfords on the Lake with rooms priced at $900. We recommend consulting TripAdvisor’s list of accommodations for more information.
  • Huts: anyone visiting the park should at least embark on a short walk or a trek. If you need a break or just shelter from the unpredictable weather, there are many huts of different sizes on the various trails. They are quite hospitable if you don’t mind basic accommodations.
  • Camping sites: Fiordland National Park can accommodate even those who prefer sleeping under the night sky in a tent thanks to a wide variety of campsites spread throughout the park.

Who should visit:

The combination of the different environments, wildlife, and activities in the park with the rich culture and popular events in the surrounding towns make the Fiordland National Park a top destination for every type of visitor.

  • Adventurers: as the Walking Capital of the World, the Fiordland is the perfect place for anyone who enjoys long treks through nature and its amazing landscapes.
  • Tourists: even more casual visitors who just like sightseeing can get a memorable experience in the Fiordland thanks to a huge variety of activities.
  • Researchers: its status as a world heritage site makes the park an excellent location for geologists, biologists, and even historians to conduct their studies.

Conclusion

Fiordland National Park is overall one of the most incredible locations in the world that anyone can visit. There are so many beautiful landscapes and awe-inspiring sceneries alongside a huge amount of activities and events that you need more than just one visit to get the full experience of the park. Nonetheless, no matter how much or little you explore and do during your visit, it’s sure to be a memorable time thanks to the great people of New Zealand and the excellent service that they offer.

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