Things to do in Te Anau

Located in the Southland region of the South Island of New Zealand, Te Anau is a small town found on the shore of Lake Te Anau, the largest lake in the South Island and second only to Lake Taupo.

It is also the gateway to Milford Sound, with the only road in and out starting here.

Te Anau pier
Te Anau pier

Here are our top things to do in Te Anau:

Milford Sound

The Milford road begins at Te Anau, making it an ideal place to stay before and/or after visiting Milford Sound.

It is also the last place to fill up on petrol before you make the drive so be sure to fill up!

Check out our dedicated post for Milford Sound (coming soon!)

Doubtful Sound

It’s not possible to drive all the way to Doubtful sound, as it is with Milford Sound.

You’ll need to head down to Manapouri, catch a boat accross Lake Manapouri, take a bus from here to Doubtful Sound where you can connect with a cruise.

We wouldn’t suggest trying to book these separately! There are tour agencies who’ll arrange all of your transport for the day.

Enjoy the lake by boat

Take a relaxing cruise around the lake.

We’d recommend Faith, a lovingly restored sail boat offering daily trips to suit any type of traveller.

Te Anau Glowworm Caves

You can’t come to this part of the world and not experience glowworms at some point!

You’ll need to book a tour as the caves are on the other side of the lake.

Our favourite FREE glowworm spots are at Hokitika and McClaren Falls!

Seaplane/Helicopter

One of the first places we saw regular sea plane tours being offered.

It’s no surprise the plane was so popular with the wonderful scenery all around.

You can fly to Doubtful Sound, Milford Sound, or explore Lakes Te Anau and Manapouri from the sky.

Hiking/Tramping

The Kepler Track

One of the most popular things to do in Te Anau.

One of New Zealand’s Great Walks, the Kepler Track is a 60km round trip and takes 3-4 days.

From the trailhead, about 3km from the centre of town, there are a number of options for out and back walks you can complete in a day

The Milford Track

Starting at the very top of lake Te Anau, the Milford track (another of New Zealand’s Great Walks), will take you all the way up to Milford Sound.

The Trail is 53.5km one way, and can take 4 days to complete

NOTE – As of June 2020 the Northern section of the trail remains closed due to severe flood damage. Check conditions before travelling.

Cycling

If you have a bike, or plan to rent one, there’s plenty of cycling options to keep you busy.

There are two mountain bike parks with multiple beginner and intermediate tracks.

You can also explore the Lake2Lake cycle trail between Te Anau and Manaouri.

Interested in cycling in New Zealand?

Check out the Great Rides app for New Zealand rides, or Trailforks for mountain biking (and more) worldwide.

Te Anau Bird Sanctuary

Te Anau bird sanctuary allows you to get a glimpse of some native birds that may be rare to see in the wild.

The main attractions are the Takehe and the Kaka.

Disc Golf

A few hundred metres out of town on the road to Manapouri you can play disc golf for free!

There’s no-where we could see to rent a disc, so you’ll need your own, or you can buy one in town. This is where we bought our first discs!

Planets Walk

Along the shore of Lake Te Anau you can take a walk through our solar system!

Starting with the sun, at the main pier near the town centre, you can learn about each of the planets in our solar system. The planets are distanced (proportionally) as they are in outer space!

Enjoy the local food

There are a wide variety of restaurants with different regional inspiration to be found here.

Special mention to Miles Better Pies. Twice we ate from here and were not disappointed!

What are your favourite things to do in Te Anau? Let us know in the comments below!

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