The Fiordland National Park

Dominating the south west coast of New Zealand’s South Island, the Fiordland National Park is an awe inspiring wilderness, a UNESCO World Heritage Area, and an absolute must see destination for anyone who appreciates the outdoors. There are few other places in the world which provide as many scenic thrills concentrated into one manageable area for visitors to explore. In what is the largest of New Zealand’s National Parks, you will find three of the nine ‘Great Walks’, majestic fiords, cascading waterfalls and formidable mountain vistas. Other highlights include the glow worm caves in Te Anau, and the chance to take an Astronomy tour inside the National Park. Here are a few musts for your itinerary...

The Great Walks

Hiking fans are spoilt for choice in Fiordland. As well as the countless trails and tracks which wind through the park, visitors can also take on a whopping three of New Zealand’s nine ‘Great Walks’. Bear in mind that a Great Walks Pass is required for an independent walk on any of the Department of Conservation’s ‘Great’ tracks, but there are plenty of other lesser known, equally spectacular routes all throughout the park. These include the Hollyford Track, which is the only major track in Fiordland at low altitude, and as a result can be walked in winter without the risk of snow making it impassable. The track eventually reaches the sea at Martins Bay, on the wild, unspoilt western coastline.

The Routeburn Track

One of the most popular tracks in New Zealand, Routeburn offers incredible views of the Southern Alps and the Fiordland National Park. At only 32km in length, the path is relatively short, but still manages to pack in a vast amount of stunning scenery as it traverses across into the Mount Aspiring National Park. As you wind through steep valleys which overlook classic Kiwi lakes and icy rivers, you will come to understand just why thousands of tourists flock to New Zealand each year.     

The Milford Track

The Fiordland National Park

The title of ‘finest walk in the world’ is not one given away easily, but that is exactly how the Milford Track is referred to. Its 53km of striking, natural magnificence are found in the Fiordland National Park, on the south west of the South Island. Over the course of around 4 days, you will come across towering waterfalls, tranquil forests and picturesque mountain views. Don't miss it.  

The Kepler Track

The Kepler track is also found within the South Island’s Fiordland region, but takes you a little higher than the other tracks in the park. The thigh burning climb rewards you with spectacular panoramic views of the Kepler Mountains and the surrounding landscape. Plenty of the 60km route will see you strolling above the clouds, and an average hiker should be able to complete the track in between three and four days. 

Visit the Fiords!

The Fiordland National Park

There’s no point visiting Fiordland if you aren’t going to take a walk, boat cruise or even scenic flight to see at least one of the fiords. There are 14 in total, and each is its own unique and natural wonder. The two most popular are Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound. Once described by Rudyard Kipling as the “8th wonder of the world”, Milford Sound is a simply staggering sight to behold. As you cruise along the water, you are surrounded by falls flowing down the adjacent, imposing mountainsides. Milford Sound is equally impressive at any time of year, as in the spring, showers empower the cascading waterfalls, whilst the winter snow brings with it a cold cloak of serenity to an already mystical location. Milford Sound is the only fiord in the park accessible by road, and there are a range of kayak tours and boat cruises on offer to give you truly spectacular views of the surrounding wilderness.

The Fiordland National Park

As mentioned, Doubtful Sound is another fiord which has proved popular with visitors. It is larger and more difficult to get to than Milford Sound, but there are still plenty of cruises available where you can share the water with the native sea life, which includes bottlenose dolphins and sea lions. 

Explore the Glow Worm caves of Te Anau

Those seeking wonder and adventure in equal measure need look no further than the magical Glow worm caves of Te Anau. A tour will commence with a boat trip to the west coast of Lake Te Anau, before entering the caves in small groups with a professional guide. Once underground you can explore the ancient caves, and in complete darkness, take a small boat to a deeper, silent cavern, where the ceiling has been colonised by thousands of glowworms. The glittering display that they produce is akin to looking up at the sky at night, and is just another Fiordland sight that will take your breath away.

Astronomy in Fiordland

Unsurprisingly, some people like to combine a guided tour of the National Park with a spot of astronomy, as the unspoilt fiords have next to no light or air pollution. A popular operator offering personal tours and astronomy experiences is Astronomy Fiordland, and you can be sure that the depths of the night sky will prove as wondrous as the park you are observing them from.