Top 10 things to do in Fiordland

Explore the natural wonders of Fiordland by water, land or air.

Here are the top 10 things to do in spectacular Fiordland.

1. Discover the beauty of Dusky/Tamatea and Doubtful/Patea Sound on a helicopter

Prepare to have your breath taken away with this unforgettable helicopter ride through Dusky Sound/Tamatea and Doubtful Sound/Patea. The ultimate helicopter experience in Fiordland, you’ll get to see the Sound in all its glory, being the largest and most spectacular of the fiords. With two alpine landings, you’ll have the opportunity to catch your breath and take in the beauty and solitude of the magnificent scenery.

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2. Explore Fiordland by kayak

Kayaking is an amazing way to experience Fiordland, allowing you to explore the quietest corners of the sounds and see rare wildlife up close. Kayaking trips in Milford Sound/Piopiotahi range from 1 hour to all day and can be included as part of an overnight boat cruise. If you want a longer escape, Go Orange Kayaks offer multi-day trips through Doubtful Sound/Patea, with overnight camping in the wilderness.

3. Sleep on the calm waters of the Sounds

An overnight boat cruise lets you travel deeper into Milford or Doubtful Sound. Experience the soaring peaks and immense waterways of the Sounds; spot bottle-nosed dolphins, fur seals and penguins. Your boat will anchor in a sheltered bay, where you can disembark to explore the coastline by kayak or small boat. Dinner, breakfast and a private cabin are included, and transfers are available from Te Anau or Queenstown.

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4. Watch Ata Whenua at Fiordland Cinema

Ata Whenua - Shadowland is a 32-minute film showcasing the landscapes for which Fiordland is famous. Simply put, it should not be missed. See untouched mountains, lakes, rivers and rainforests that can only be reached by helicopter. And if you've got time to spare, the cosy Fiordland Cinema(opens in new window) also shows new release films, and its Black Dog Bar is the perfect place to relax after a day of adventuring.

5. Take a walk in nature

A testament to its vast natural beauty, Fiordland has three of New Zealand's nine Great Walks – the Milford, Kepler and Routeburn Tracks. These walks take 3-4 days each, and hikers stay in huts or tents along the way. But you don't need to be a serious hiker to experience Fiordland on foot, there are plenty of day hikes such as Lake Marian, Key Summit and Luxmore Summit, ranging from half-day to full day-long hikes. Choose a track to suit your schedule and fitness. Walk independently, or let a guide show you the ways of the forest.

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6. Go fishing

Whether you're into freshwater or saltwater, you'll find Fiordland teeming with fish. Anglers can go for Rainbow and Brown Trout on the beautiful Waiau River, which borders Fiordland National Park. Fish Jet NZ(opens in new window) combine trout fishing with jet boating, for the ultimate day out. Saltwater fishermen and fisherwomen will enjoy the bounty of Fiordland's pristine coast, rich in blue cod, gurnard, tuna and more.

7. Visit the magical Te Anau Glowworm Caves

Located on the western shore of Lake Te Anau, the Glowworm Caves are nature's work in progress, continuously carved out by the river's force over 12,000 years. Take a scenic boat cruise across Lake Te Anau, then venture into the deep to see sculpted limestone, whirlpools and a roaring subterranean waterfall. Climb aboard a small punt to drift further into the caves, where you'll see thousands of glittering glowworms overhead. This trip with Real Journeys takes just over two hours and is suitable for all ages.

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8. Meet native wildlife

Many of New Zealand's rarest native bird species make their home in Fiordland, and you can see some up close and enjoy the birdsong at the Punanga Manu o Te Anau Bird Sanctuary(opens in new window). Meet the flightless Takahē and the Kākā, or native forest parrot.

The Fiordland Crested Penguin or Tawaki is another wee beauty, which can be found in all the fiords during breeding season – July to November. Living alongside them you'll often see the world's smallest penguins, known as Little Blue Penguins or Korora. Other local residents that you may come across are fur seals, bottlenose dolphins, and the Kea.

9. Explore Fiordland’s underwater world

Have an ultimate Fiordland experience by scuba diving in NZ’s coral capital with spectacular scenery above and beneath you. One of the most unique dive sites in the world, the Milford Sound / Piopiotahi marine reserve is the home to the deep-water emergent black coral trees.

If you prefer not to get wet, you can still experience Milford’s underwater world and visit the Milford Sound Underwater Observatory. The underwater viewing room is found 10 metres below sea level where you can gaze at the rare black coral and learn about Milford’s history, ecology and geology.

10. Escape on a Lake Te Anau cruise

Go completely off the beaten track and book a lake cruise with Hidden Hankinson. You’ll start with a private boat charter on Lake Te Anau, then go for a hike through the untouched wilderness. There will also be the opportunity to go fishing and even hand-feed native eels!

Faith in Fiordland offers a relaxed day on a Scottish-built motor yacht, Faith, as you cruise on Lake Te Anau and take in the natural beauty with personalised commentaries and a guided walk in the Fiordland National Park.

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