Sprawling along New Zealand’s southwest coast, Fiordland National Park represents the country at its most photogenic: jagged mountains, rugged glacial valleys, and glittering fjords. This UNESCO World Heritage Site harbors some of New Zealand’s most impressive natural wonders, including Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound, and Lake Te Anau, as well as rare Fiordland penguins, dolphins, seals, and sea lions.
Whether you’re soaring over Milford Sound in a helicopter, taking a scenic cruise along Doubtful Sound, or hiking the famous Milford Track, there are ample opportunities for adventure in Fiordland National Park. Tours typically start out from Queenstown or Te Anau and visit must-see attractions such as Mitre Peak, the Te Anau Glowworm Caves, Dusky Sound, and Manapouri Lake.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Weather in Fiordland National Park can be temperamental, especially around the fjords, so be prepared for wind and rain—even in summer.
- If you’re hiking, remember to wear comfortable shoes and bring plenty of water and snacks, as there are limited places to purchase supplies.
- There is no public transportation within the park, so you’ll need to join a tour if you don’t have your own transport.
- Cell phone coverage is limited, but free Wi-Fi is available at the Fiordland National Park Visitor Center.
- Some cruises and attractions are wheelchair accessible but not all activities within the park are accessible to those with limited mobility, so it’s best to check in advance.
How to Get There
Fiordland National Park stretches over 3.2 million acres (1.2 million hectares) along the southwest coast of New Zealand’s South Island. The nearest international airport is in Queenstown, roughly 107 miles (172 kilometers) by road from the park’s main entry points—the lakeside towns of Te Anau and Manapouri. Fiordland National Park can also be accessed from Milford Sound, which lies roughly 178 miles (287 kilometers) by road from Queenstown.
When to Get There
Summer (December through February) is the most popular time to visit Fiordland. Cooler spring and autumn temperatures make for great hiking, fewer crowds, and lower prices. Winter visitors will be at the weather’s mercy, but the park’s snow-covered peaks offer some spectacular scenery. Hikers should be aware that the Milford Track is only maintained from October through April, and lodges and facilities will be closed outside of this time.
Outdoor Activities in Fiordland National Park
Fiordland is one of the best destinations for hiking in New Zealand, with three of the country’s Great Walks running through the park—the Milford Track, the Kepler Track, and the Routeburn Track, as well as a huge variety of short walks. Other outdoor activities include kayaking around Doubtful Sound, jet boating or fishing along the Waiau River, cycling or horseback riding around the lakes, and skydiving in Glenorchy.