Fiordland is one of the most dramatic and beautiful parts of New Zealand. Absorb the breathtaking treasures of this region by water, air or hiking and is guaranteed to awe with its dramatic, glacier-carved landscapes. Here you'll find Milford, Dusky and Doubtful Sounds - all magnificent in their own right. Fiordland National Park also includes three of New Zealand's Great Walks: the Milford, Kepler, and Routeburn Tracks.
The spectacular geography and wildlife of Fiordland’s Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound are best experienced up close on a boat cruise. Here, steep cliffs rise out of deep blue water and fur seals sunbathe on rocks. Take a boat cruise up to the Bowen Falls – which are 160m high – or the Stirling Falls, which cascade into the fiord like a giant shower. Some boats have underwater viewing observatories, and all provide panoramic photo opportunities. Look out for penguins and dolphins, as well as whales – the occasional one makes it all the way into the fiords.
Fiordland from the water:
The pristine beauty of Fiordland can be seen close up from the water.
- Cruise around Milford, Doubtful, Dusky or Breaksea sounds. The pristine forest, sheer rock walls and tumbling waterfalls are a breathtaking sight. Local inhabitants include New Zealand fur seals and Fiordland crested penguins.
- Cruises range from half a day to several nights. Some companies also offer fishing and diving experiences or ecology-based tours.
- Sea kayaking is an active way to explore Fiordland in a small, personalised group. Several specialist companies offer a range of trips - from overnighters to six-day adventures.
- You can also cruise or sail the clear, glacial waters of Lake Te Anau, the South Island's biggest lake. Lake Manapouri, smaller but just as pristine, is also nearby.
- Take a 2 1/2 hour guided trip to the caves and glow-worm grotto on the edge of Lake Te Anau. These caves are geologically active - quite unique in the Southern Hemisphere.
- For a faster thrill, try jet boating on the upper Waiau River. This same river featured in The Lord of the Rings trilogy as the River Anduin.
The 'Walking Capital of the World:
Three of New Zealand's nine Great Walks are located in Fiordland. Walk for a day, or do the full track and stay in hikers' huts along the way.
- The Milford Track is New Zealand's most famous walk. It has been thrilling travelers for more than 100 years.
- The Kepler Track takes you through mountains, native forest, waterfalls and glacier-carved valleys.
- The Routeburn Track is one of the shorter Great Walks. It links Mount Aspiring National Park with Fiordland National Park, showing off mountain peaks and jewel-like lakes along the way.
- The Hump Ridge Track is a 3 day loop track along the coast and through native forest. Though less well-known, it is just as stunning as the Great Walks.
- Whichever walk you choose, take along an experienced guide to explain the unique flora and fauna and techniques for surviving in the bush.
- If you're not one for walking, try a quad bike adventure through the back blocks of Fiordland; it's fun for all ages.
A bird's eye view of Fiordland:
Some of the sights of Fiordland are best appreciated from the air.
- Take a spectacular scenic flight over Fiordland National Park - either fixed wing, floatplane or helicopter.
- View crystal clear lakes, glacier carved fiords and endless snow clad mountains.
- Land in Milford Sound for a cruise of the fiord.
- If a scenic flight is out of your budget, you can enjoy aerial views of the region from your armchair; watch 'Fiordland on Film - Ata Whenua' at the Fiordland Cinema.
Underneath the fiords:
A phenomenon called 'deep water emergence' creates an environment similar to the deep ocean only a few metres beneath the water surface of the fiords.
- Guided diving tours take you to black coral and other Fiordland submarine mysteries.
- The Milford Discovery Centre underwater observatory enables non-diving visitors to view the unique marine environment.
The fish are always biting:
Fiordland's fishing is almost as spectacular as its scenery.
- A range of experienced operators offer guided freshwater fishing andsaltwater fishing.
- Licenses are required and are readily available at a number of outlets in Te Anau and Manapouri.
- Lakes Te Anau and Manapouri are open for fishing all year round. The rivers are generally open for the summer months.
- Look for wild brown and rainbow trout.
A sightseeing tour will help you to experience the best of Fiordland's dramatic landscapes:
Spectacular Fiordland is home to fiords carved by glaciers during the ice age. Cliffs rise dramatically from inky-black water and waterfalls cascade down huge granite rock faces. It's the perfect region to take a sightseeing tour - combine a scenic flight with a boat cruise or coach tour and you'll be able to soak up the beauty of this spectacular region (as well as have some incredible photo opportunities!) Try horse riding, quadbiking or guided hiking if you would prefer to explore Fiordland by land.