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How to Spend 3 Days in Te Anau

How to Spend 3 Days in Te Anau

With three days in Te Anau, there’s time to experience all the highlights. This lakeside township nestled in World Heritage-listed Fiordland offers a variety of guided hikes, cruises, scenic flights, and day trips. Enjoy a range of nearby outdoor adventures, or go a bit further afield. Here’s how to get the most out of a 3-day stay.  

Day 1: New Zealand’s Great Walks

Some of the South Island’s best hiking trails are near Te Anau, and many people use the town as the point of departure for these sights. While multi-day treks require advance booking with the Department of Conservation, you don’t need for a backcountry permit for a day hike. Take a water taxi across Lake Te Anau to reach the Kepler Track trailhead, or skip most of the uphill climb to Mount Luxmore and opt for a helicopter flight and landing with a guided hike to the summit. 

Alternatively, take a nature walk along the popular Milford Track, which boasts views of the area’s famous fiord. Another Great Walk option is the Routeburn Track, which is nothing short of spectacular. It’s possible to tackle any of these trails independently or book a small-group or private guided trip; combine your outing with a scenic cruise for extra value.

Day 2: Fiordland Waterways

Spend your second day visiting Milford Sound, the area’s most famous and popular sight. Snap pics of towering Mitre Peak, and search for Fiordland crested penguins and other wildlife. While there, check out the Underwater Observatory for a closer look at the aquatic world. If you’re visiting in high season and the cruise boats are crowded, consider a day trip to see the larger but more distant Doubtful Sound instead, which is no less impressive and boasts an array of gushing waterfalls following rain storms. With any luck you may spot the small resident population of bottlenose dolphins. 

Rather not venture too far? Take afternoon tea aboard an elegant yacht on a cruise around Lake Te Anau; speed across the lake to the Glowworm Caves and take a tour of its illuminated caverns; or spend a lazy day learning to fly-fish for rainbow trout on the Waiau River. 

Day 3: Aerial Views

Fiordland National Park offers unparalleled scenic views, including more than a dozen ice-carved fiords. The scale of Fiordland’s sheer cliffs, shimmering lakes, snow-capped mountainscapes, and virgin beech forests is hard to fathom, and it’s impossible to cover it all. A scenic flight gives you the best chance to take it all in and offers plenty of postcard-worthy views. You can book a helicopter tour over Dusky and Doubtful—two of the region’s largest fiords—for a closer look at the Southern Alps and Kepler mountains. Alternatively, opt to soar above Milford’s iconic Mitre Peak, or hover above the twin lakes of Te Anau and Manapouri. Whichever tour you choose, you’ll get stunning views to cap off your trip.

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3 Tours and Activities

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Full-Day Milford Sound Hiking Tour with Cruise

Full-Day Milford Sound Hiking Tour with Cruise

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218
Discover one of the jewels in the crown of New Zealand's spectacular South Island on this full day Milford Sound hiking tour with cruise. Travel along the Milford Road from Te Anau and enjoy panoramic views over the beautiful countryside. Enjoy a relaxing boat cruise through the fjord and out to the Tasman Sea, and gaze over soaring clifftops and plummeting waterfalls. Afterward, choose from a series of guided walks in the area or take an unguided hike on the Routeburn Great Walk to Key Summit.
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  • 10 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$127.12
From
$127.12

Afternoon Te Anau Cruise on Historic Motor Yacht

Afternoon Te Anau Cruise on Historic Motor Yacht

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70
Get around Lake Te Anau with ease on a small-group tour that combines an elegant cruise and guided nature walks in Fiordland National Park. At the wharf you’ll board a historical motor yacht for a relaxed cruise with afternoon tea. After a bush walk amid the South Island’s famed scenery,  your crew sets sail for the return. This cruise is limited to 16 passengers to ensure a comfortable, personable experience.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$87.27
From
$87.27

Kepler Track Water Taxi

Kepler Track Water Taxi

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15
The Kepler Track is one of New Zealand’s Great Walks, running from the shores of Lake Te Anau to Lake Manapouri and back via majestic alpine vistas. Start your trek off with this private water taxi across Lake Te Anau to Brod Bay. From there, stroll back to Te Anau along the lake’s limestone bluffs or, for more of a challenge, hike up Mount Luxmore, a summit with impressive views of Te Anau basin.
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  • 15 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
From
$17.27
From
$17.27