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Fiordland is one of the most beautiful and dramatic parts of New Zealand. Complete with pristine lakes and glacier-carved wilderness areas, it would be a shame to limit your visit to just one day. Why not add one of these seven experiences to your itinerary and spend some time exploring Te Anau and Manapouri – the gateway towns to Fiordland?
1. Cruise or Kayak on Lake Manapouri
Widely acknowledged as being one New Zealand’s most beautiful lakes, Manapouri is the ideal spot for a sunset cruise. Glide silently across the crystal clear waters and take in the unspoiled landscapes as you drift alongside them. Or if you’d prefer the man-powered alternative, why not try a single or multi-day kayaking trip? Stop into the many remote bays along the way and listen to native birdsong.
2. Try your hand at fly-fishing or trout fishing
The area surrounding Manapouri and Te Anau offers the ideal environment to try freshwater fly-fishing or trout fishing. Park yourself for the day beside glorious rivers and lakes teeming with wild fish, and try your hand at one of New Zealand’s most popular pastimes.
3. Discover some Lord of the Rings Filming Locations
If you’ve ever imagined yourself navigating the gloomy landscapes of the Dead Marshes or Fangorn Forest, then look no further. The local regions surrounding Fiordland were used for several Lord of the Rings filming locations. Given the extremely high rainfall in the region, the wetlands and dense rainforest provided the ideal mystical setting for Orcs, Hobbits, Elves and inquisitive tourists.
4. Spend the day hiking
For those staying nearby there are many fabulous day walks near the shores of Lake Manapouri. The Pearl Harbour walk via the Circle Track is a pleasant four-hour loop through beech forest to a stunning viewpoint overlooking the lake. Alternatively, walk a gentle section of the Kepler Track from Rainbow Reach carpark to Moturau Hut. This 3.5hr loop ambles along the shores of Lake Manapouri and boasts spectacular views of the Waiau River.
5. Explore Te Anau Glowworm Caves
Explore deep dark caves with their ceilings glittering like stars in the darkness. See native glowworms in their natural environment and watch as they shower the rock with hundreds of tiny light fragments. Hear tales from the local guides about the spirits and legends of this place.
6. Visit Te Anau Bird Sanctuary
Get up close and personal with some of the rare native birds that make Fiordland so special. See the flightless takahē and enjoy ‘Breakfast With The Birds’, which runs daily. This tour lasts around 45 minutes and is free of charge – although a gold coin donation is always appreciated.
7. Experience The Chasm
Photos fail to capture the sheer power and grandeur of The Chasm. This natural rock feature - found on the road to Milford Sound - has been created by the mighty force of the Cleddau River rushing over the rock surface. Great holes have been carved through the rock allowing a waterfall to roar through the midst with epic force.
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