15 Things To Do In Te Anau, New Zealand - Updated 2022


On the bank of Lake Te Anau, the town by the same name, is a picturesque abode surrounded by Mt Luxmore and Murchison mountain range. The Glacier-carved Fiordland National Park is located very close to the town. Te Anau town is mainly known as the gateway to the Fiordland National Park. The scenic Milford Sound is located very close, just 2 and a half hour’s drive away. This town is also favored by the hikers, for the proximity of the walking tracks like the Milford Track, Routeburn Track, and Kepler Track. For the proximity of these well-known walking tracks, the town is also known as the Walking Capital of the World. Te Anau is also home to several Bookabach holiday homes and Airbnbs. Overall, the township Te Anau is a perfect base for exploring the Fiordland region. With so many amazing things to find, we compiled a list of some things to do in Te Anau, New Zealand.

1. Take a tour around Lake Te Anau on a historic motor yacht (from USD 80.0)

If you’re wondering what to do in Te Anau, why not check this tour out? Combining the best of an elegant cruise and a soothing nature walk, Afternoon Te Anau Cruise on Historic Motor Yacht offers travelers a cruise through the lake with live commentary from their tour guide who will provide information about the lake and the various places they come across.

Unique to this tour is the fact that yacht staff will provide guests with tea, coffee, and snacks. As the tour describes it, “Customers are pampered by the crew.” The tour also includes a relaxing walk in Fiordland National Park alongside nature guides.

Afternoon Te Anau Cruise on Historic Motor Yacht

Duration: 3 hours

82 reviews

2. Go on a tour around the very places where Lord of the Rings was filmed (from USD 111.0)

Rejoice, Tolkien and Lord of the Rings fans, as Te Anau Highlights & Lord of the Rings Small Group Tour offers all of you a guided tour around Te Anau’s hidden gems including the various places showcased in the famous Peter Jackson films such as the Dead Marshes, Fangorn Forest, and The River Anduin.

It’s not just Tolkien fans that are in for a treat as birdwatchers and nature lovers will also enjoy going through Te Anau Bird Sanctuary, Fiordland National Park, Rainbow Reach, Kepler Track, and Waiau River.

Te Anau Highlights & Lord of the Rings Small Group Tour from Te Anau

Duration: 5 hours

5 reviews

3. See the birds at Punanga Manu o Te Anau / Te Anau Bird Sanctuary

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Posted by Department of Conservation on Sunday, November 1, 2020

Located on the shores of Lake Te Anau, Punanga Manu o Te Anau / Te Anau Bird Sanctuary offers a nice treat for birdwatchers and nature lovers as various species of birds can be seen and observed in this lovely sanctuary. Some of these species include takahē, kākā, Antipodes Island parakeets, and ruru koukou.

The cherry on top of this already nice cake is that the sanctuary doesn’t charge a fee for self-guided visitors, which makes it one of the many free things to do in Te Anau. It is open from dawn until dusk. It’s also 15 minutes away from Te Rua-o-te-Moko/Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre.

Punanga Manu o Te Anau / Te Anau Bird Sanctuary

Address: RD 162 Manapouri-Te Anau Highway, Te Anau 9679, New Zealand

Website: Punanga Manu o Te Anau / Te Anau Bird Sanctuary

4. Take a trip through the Glow Worm Caves (from USD 62.0)

These caves are located on the western shore of the Lake Te Anau. The formation of the rocks due to the water-flow is unusual and authentic. Along with the unusual rock formation, the light illuminating from the glowworms gives the whole atmosphere of the lake a magical touch. The darkness of this cave gets mystified with the glow from the lights of billions of glowworms. After a rundown of the history of these caves, take a boat-ride through the underground river.

Te Anau Glow Worm Caves Tour

Duration: 2 hours 15 minutes

357 reviews

5. A full day trip to Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound (from USD 137.0)

In most of the cases, the main reason to visit Te Anau is for a trip to the Fiordland National Park. The main attractions of the Fiordland National Park are the ice-topped fiords, ice-carved lakes, mountains, and rainforests. The land is the home of Takahē, an ancient bird which is almost extinct except in Murchison Mountains area. Within this amazing national park and Te Anau attraction, the Milford Sound is a natural wonder of nature. Although it is called sound, the Milford sound is technically a fiord. A trip to Fiordland National Park and Milford sound can be covered in a single day trip. The trip takes you through the scenic Lake Te Anau till the Fiordland National Park. After taking a trip through the national park, explore the Milford Sound in the cruise.

Milford Sound Cruise, Fiordland National Park Tour via Te Anau

Duration: 9 hours

72 reviews

6. Enjoy kayaking with a cruise trip in Milford Sound

The beauty of the Milford Sound is best observed from a cruise trip. If you want to discover this fiord more closely, then you can opt for a kayak trip. The cruise on Milford Sound normally takes 2 and half hours to complete, on which an hour can be reserved for kayaking. The kayaking experience in Milford Sound takes you to the calm water of the Harrison Cove. On the way, you can enjoy the beauty of the Pembroke Glacier and Harrison Valley.

The Milford Discovery Centre and Underwater Observatory are only accessed by the boat. The Milford Discovery Centre and Underwater Observatory is actually a floating underwater observatory located on Harrison Cove. Here, you have to get down more than 60 steps to a viewing area to get the excellent view of the surrounding waters. The excellent views of the underwater-world from black corals to sea-creatures can be enjoyed from this Underwater Observatory.

Milford Sound


7. A road trip to Milford Sound to enjoy the attractions in between (from USD 129.1)

a road trip to milford sound to enjoy the attractions in between

The drive from Te Anau to the Fiordland National Park is also an adventure not to be missed. The 1.2 km (0.75 mile) long Homer Tunnel is located on the way, which links the Milford Sound with the city Te Anau. On the way, you can enjoy the beauty of the Cleddau Canyon, and take a walk to visit the Cleddau River.

From Queenstown: Milford Sound Full-Day Trip by Bus & Boat

Duration: 12.5 hour

397 reviews

8. Hiking through the various tracks

On Lake Te Anau
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user [Unknown] used under CC BY 2.5

The wild beauty of the nature around Te Anau can be also explored on foot. The beauty to the Milford Sound from the lake Te Anau can be covered by the Milford track. This track starts on the west part of the lake. Apart from this track, there is another famous track, called Routeburn track. From the Milford Road, this track can be accessed, which heads towards the Mount Aspiring National Park. Another track which starts on this lake is known as the Kepler track.

Walking Tracks of Te Anau

Website: Walking Tracks Te Anau

9. Jet boating at Waiau River

Waiau River upstream of Waiau Ferry Bridge
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Leyo used under CC BY 2.5

The Waiau River flows from the Fiordland National Park, in between the Lake Te Anau and Lake Manapouri. This is one of many places to visit in Te Anau if you love fishing. While staying in Te Anau, you can opt for a fishing expedition in the jet boats. Through this jet boat ride you can also get a glimpse of the picturesque locations around the Fiordland National Park. The trout fish are popular in this river, which will give you an excellent adventure of spin fishing, even if you are a novice.

Jet boating at Waiau River

Address: Fish Jet, Te Anau NZ, Fiordland, 9600, New Zealand

Website: Jet boating at Waiau River

10. Explore the city and visit Fiordland Vintage Machinery Museum

1907 Ford Model K Tourer (Warbirds & Wheels museum)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Pseudopanax used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

After having all the adventures provided by nature, if you are craving for some indoor adventures, head on to the Fiordland Vintage Machinery Museum. The museum will give you an amazing insight of the lifestyle of Te Anau and the whole Fiordland region. Along with the various local transportations, like trucks, tractors, and farm equipment, you will also get a glimpse of the local household items.

Fiordland Vintage Machinery Museum

Address: Sandy Brown Road, Te Anau, Fiordland, New Zealand

11. Go horse riding (from USD 92.0)

Unleash your inner cowboy or cowgirl in this 2.5 to 3-hour long horse riding tour within Te Anau region. Aside from admiring the views of the popular region, you’ll be able to befriend horses and experience the thrill of riding them. Safety is not an issue since there will be a professional guide, all safety equipment is in place, and the horses are generally friendly. Worried about having no experience in horse riding at all? Worry not, for the tour caters to both beginners and experienced riders. The horses will be also assigned to best suit your level. Light refreshments will also be served to keep you full until the journey ends. So hop on and expect to be greeted by a beautiful mix of landscapes and seascapes that have blessed Te Anau region in New Zealand.

2.5 Hour Horse Riding Tour in Te Anau

Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes

12. Book a helicopter tour (from 455 USD)

book a helicopter tour
Source: Experience OZ

Looking for the best activity to book in Te Anau? Look no further than Fiordland scenic helicopter flights spanning over the wonders of New Zealand. It’s the most convenient way to explore some of the loveliest places on earth since it will be departing from Te Anau and offers two experiences: the Milford Sound or the Doubtful Sound. Depending on your budget and preferences in scenic experience, you’ll be able to get the most of this tour by Experience OZ.

First off, the Milford Sound is perhaps the most popular Sound in the Fiordland region. The helicopter flight across the sound lasts for about an hour and 45 minutes. While here, expect to see some of NZ’s finest views such as the country’s highest waterfall, the Sutherland Falls, and the Milford Track.

Doubtful sound scenic flight, on the other hand, offers panoramic views of the massive waterway. It is one of the largest fiords in Fiordland so expect to see a lot of natural resources from above.

Whichever is your choice, you are guaranteed to have a great time for the whole duration of your helicopter ride. Aside from feeding your eyes with all the magnificent views of mountains and bodies of water, every photo you take sure deserves to be Instagram-worthy!

Book a helicopter tour

Price: from 455 USD

13. A cruise trip on Lake Te Anau (from USD 74.13)

a cruise trip on lake te anau

The first thing you must try after reaching Te Anau is to take a cruise through the picturesque Lake Te Anau. This lake is known to be the largest freshwater body in the whole of Australasia. The lake is spread over 65 km (40.3 miles) and stretched in mainly 3 parts. A part of it has run towards the Fiordland National Park on the west side. A cruise trip through this lake will give you a chance to admire the beauty of the Murchison Mountains from afar. The bird lovers get a chance to admire the beauty of the Tui, Bellbirds, which hover on just the bank of the lake.

Lake Te Anau: 3-Hour Boat Cruise with Guided Walk

Duration: 3 hour

25 reviews

14. A wilderness cruise to Doubtful Sound (from USD 328.0)

Doubtful Sound is not only the second longest fiords of the South Island, it is also the deepest. The mysterious fiord had featured in the adventure of Captain Cook, who had originally named it Doubtful Harbor. A day trip from Te Anau will take you to the Doubtful Sound, where the best option to explore is a 3 hour cruise. After crossing Manapouri Lake and Wilmot Pass, a stylish catamaran cruise will take you through the Doubtful Sound. Soaking in the surrounding beauty of the blue green water, you will take a ride with the dolphins. If you are lucky, you can get a glimpse of the Fiordland penguins.

Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise

Duration: 2 days

10 reviews

15. A day trip till Stewart Island (from USD 108.0)

The Stewart Island is a short drive or a ferry ride away from the town Te Anau. Excellent seafood, marvelous beaches and a slow and peaceful lifestyle is the main factors of this island. Over 85% of this island is a part of the national park, so the island is a perfect base for an adventure of exploring the wildlife or for bird-watching.

Return Ferry to Stewart Island from Bluff

Duration: 1 hour

7 reviews

Fiordland, a commitment to nature

<div class="fn">
Doubtful Sound Fiordland New Zealand 2018</div>
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Marian Predescu used under CC0

Mostly, a visit to Te Anau or the whole Fiordland region is a commitment to explore nature at its best. There are lakes, caves, mountains, wildlife; which will fulfill your experience with the wildness.

Frequently asked questions about things to do in Te Anau, NZ

1. Which are the best attractions to visit in Te Anau?

Te Anau is home to a plethora of great attractions, many of which were made famous by the Lord of the Rings. Some of these great attractions are the Punanga Manu o Te Anau / Te Anau Bird Sanctuary, Glow Worm Caves, Fiordland National Park, and Fiordland Vintage Machinery Museum.

2. What are the best activities in Te Anau?

There are a plethora of great activities for different kinds of travelers to enjoy at Te Anau. Some of these activities include kayaking at Milford Sound, hiking through the various trails around Te Anau, horseback riding, jet boating at Waiau River, and exploring Fiordland National Park.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

Get Trip101 in your inbox

Unsubscribe in one click. See our privacy policy for more information on how we use your data

The main purpose of Saptami's life is to explore the unknown. After completing her MBA, she did not want to get into a 9-to-5 kind of job. Saptami wants to be free to be able to travel and explore...Read more

 Want to contribute as a Local Expert?
Explore Te Anau
Good things are meant to be shared!