Te Anau and Manapouri
Te Anau – Manapouri – Gateway to Fiordland
Native Birds at the Wild Life Centre
On the shores of the lakes that give them their name, these townships are the ideal base for excursions into the sounds. You’ll have a huge range of choices for exploring the numerous walking tracks and waterways. Bordering Fiordland National Park, the dense native forest and bush on the sharply rising hillsides across the lake provides a dramatic background. The road to the south coast is highly recommended for those wanting to get off the busier tourist route and explore.
The larger of the two, Te Anau retains the feel of a country township. Te Anau had a peak during the 1960’s as a construction base for the large crew building the Homer Tunnel and the access road to Milford. The town still has Italian eateries set up by the tunnellers from that country who worked on the project.
More recently it has boomed as a tourist spot as the only road access to Milford Sound and a lot of outdoor activities on offer. Feeling energetic? A four-day loop of the nearby Kepler Track is sure to burn up some energy. For bird enthusiasts, the Wild Life centre is home to several rare, endangered Takahe, the towns unofficial mascot. With an estimated 200 left in the wild you can get up close to these unique flightless birds as well as others. The glow worm caves across the lake are another drawcard.
Most, however, come to visit the majestic fiords and there are a number of options from day trips to multinight cruises available. The largest activity operator in the area, Real Journeys, has a range of trips on offer including a consent to view the aforementioned glow worms. Their Milford sound trips leave from Te Anau including a scenic coach drive through the Homer Tunnel.
A smaller township but with equally stunning lakeside scenery, Manapouri was another project town with many houses built to accommodate workers on the Manapouri Dam. Visitors to Doubtful Sound start their journey here.