New Zealand’s spectacular Fiordland region is home to Lake Te Anau, the 2nd-largest lake in the country. Explore the lake from the township of Te Anau near the lake outflow, or take a cruise along one of the three fjords forming arms that extend into the old-growth forest on the lake’s western flank. The Basics
Lake Te Anau sits on the edge of Fiordland National Park and Te Wāhipounamu, a 10,000-square-mile (26,000-square-kilometer) UNESCO World Heritage Area whose geography transports visitors back 80 million years to a point where New Zealand formed part of the supercontinent Gondwana. These days the lake’s glacier-fed waters are popular with sailors, kayakers, powercraft enthusiasts, and recreational fishers. For travelers looking for a slower-paced experience, scenic cruises are a popular option. Things to Know Before You Go
How to Get There
- Lake Te Anau is ideal for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.
- The towns of Te Anau and Manapouri are good bases for most travelers thanks to grocery stores, restaurants, and accomodation options.
- Bring sturdy shoes or hiking boots to explore the many walking and mountain-biking tracks near the lake.
- From November to March, book travel to Te Anau well in advance; accomodation and tours are known to sell out.
- Overnight camping is generally restricted to designated campsites, even if your vehicle is self-contained.
- Help prevent the spread of didymo, an invasive algae present in Lake Te Anau, by washing boats, kayaks, waders, and other gear when you leave the lake.
Lake Te Anau is about a 2-hour drive from either Queenstown or Invercargill; both routes make for an excellent road trip, snaking through rewarding scenery. Buses between Te Anau and Queenstown, Invercargill, Dunedin, and Milford Sound depart daily.
When to Get There
Lake Te Anau and Fiordland are year-round destinations, although many visitors prefer visiting in summer to enjoy warm temperatures and long, sunny evenings. The lake is a popular summer getaway for Southland locals, many of whom own “cribs” (holiday houses) in the area, so it’s typically easier to find a slice of the lake for yourself during the cooler months. Great Walks at Lake Te Anau
Two of New Zealand’s 10 Great Walks begin on the shores of Lake Te Anau. The Milford Track begins at Glade Wharf, at the head of Lake Te Anau, and crosses through glacial valleys and ancient forest to reach remote Milford Sound. The equally popular Kepler Track starts and finishes at Te Anau township, looping through tussocky ridgelines and beech forest.