Driving time Queenstown to Te Anau 170 km / 105 miles, 2.5 hours
Arrive in Queenstown, collect your rental car from the airport and travel at your leisure to Te Anau, the hub of Fiordland. Nestled on the edge of a lake, the picturesque township of Te Anau is the main visitor base for the glacier-carved wilderness that is Fiordland National Park.
While you relax in Te Anau, you may wish to visit Fiordland Cinema and watch Ata Whenua – Shadowland, which was filmed by helicopters flying over the remote reaches of Fiordland National Park. You could also visit the Department of Conservation visitor centre for displays on the natural wonders of the region. Take a stroll along the lakefront to the Wildlife Park, where you can view endangered native birds, or visit the nearby Lake Manapouri for even more impressive views.
Relax and explore in the afternoon around this beautiful township situated on Lake Te Anau.
Stay 3 nights in Te Anau.
Travel the short journey by coach from Te Anau to Te Anau Downs, where you will then cruise across the Lake Te Anau to the start of the Milford Track. The Milford day walk is a great way to experience part of the longer Milford Track. The walk takes you along the Glade Burn to historic Glade house where you’ll stop for lunch and a hot drink. The path then follows the stunning Clinton River, across a swing bridge into a mystical beech forest. On this walk you will travel through ancient beech trees, witness emerald waters and listen out for native birdsong. This is an easy day walk with a guide in a small group. 4 – 5 hours of leisurely walking (11 km return) and includes lunch. Return to Te Anau for the evening.
Explore around the Lake and go for a walk to the Te Anau Bird Sanctuary, get to see some of the rare and wonderful birds that call New Zealand home. Alternatively, you can take a short 20-minute drive towards Mossburn to reach a wilderness lookout over slow-growing Halocarpus Bidwilli Bog Pine with 360
Today is the first of three days on the Hollyford Track. This incredible walk re-traces footsteps of original Maori and early pioneer explorers, as the track undulates gently through native beech forest and beside impressive tumbling waterfalls. At the end of your first day’s adventure you’ll be welcomed at Pyke Lodge by your friendly lodge host. Enjoy a hot shower, three course dinner and opportunity to relax with a post dinner drink.
Stay 1 night at Pyke Lodge.
After a short walk you’ll board a jet board for the next part of the adventure. Travel along the Hollyford River and down Lake McKerrow with glassy water whisking past and mountains rising dramatically above. Keep an eye out for Bottlenose dolphins who regularly visit the lower river and lake. Continue onwards walking through ancient forest giants such as native Rimu, Totara and Kahikatea, some believed to be up to 1000 years old. Martins Bay Lodge completes a special second day and glasses are raised to the traditional ‘Hollyford Toast’ as a memorable way to finish your day.
Stay 1 night at Martins Bay Lodge.
Day three and your last day on the Hollyford Track, explore the historical sites of Maori occupation of the area where chief Tutoko and his people guarded entry into the Hollyford Valley. Discover the diverse wildlife and plants of this unique environment. Wander the sand dunes and along isolated beach before returning to Martins Bay Lodge for lunch. Here you will bid farewell to the track and your hosts as you board your aircraft for a scenic flight along the rugged coast and into the truly spectacular and dramatic Milford Sound. Once in Milford you’ll be met by your return shuttle host and travel the impressive Milford Road through the famous Homer tunnel before returning to Te Anau.
Stay 3 nights in Te Anau.
Enjoy a relaxing day exploring Te Anau, there are several short walks in the area if your legs are up for it or browse the shops and enjoy the lake views.
In the afternoon experience the underground Glowworm caves, a mysterious underground world of rising water before drifting in silent darkness beneath the luminous shimmer of thousands of glowworms. You will be guided through the underground network of caves filled with sculpted rock, whirlpool and roaring underground waterfalls.
Today you will travel to another area of Fiordland into Doubtful Sound. Start the trip off with a short coach journey to Manapouri. From here you will cruise across the picturesque Lake Manapouri followed by a trip across New Zealand’s most expensive road over Wilmot Pass. Pausing along the way to experience the dense Fiordland rainforest and view of Doubtful Sound. Once in Doubtful Sound board a spacious, purpose built catamaran for a spectacular three hour cruise through this pristine fiord. Knowledgeable nature guides will share their passion for the area, point out landmarks and provide you with information about the varied wildlife you may encounter like dolphins, fur seals and the rare Fiordland crested penguin. Return to Te Anau for the evening.
Driving time Te Anau to Queenstown 170 km / 105 miles, 2.5 hours
You also have the option to make a trip to Arrowtown. You’ll be enchanted by historic Arrowtown, a New Zealand treasure located 20 minutes from Queenstown. Arrowtown is charming and quirky – a delightful gold rush village nestled below the beautiful peaks that surround the sparkling Arrow River. The heart of its history is Buckingham Street, a procession of heritage buildings that stretches into a tree-lined avenue of tiny miner’s cottages. The buildings in this lovely precinct house shops, galleries, bars, and restaurants – many classy, most individual, and not one from an international chain.
Stay 2 nights in Queenstown.
Continue exploring Queenstown or take a day trip over the Crown Range, one of New Zealand’s highest alpine roads, to the resort town of Wanaka.
In the evening relive the elegance of the turn-of-the-century travel with a cruise aboard the vintage steamship TSS Earnslaw, the only coal fired passenger carrying vessel still operating in the southern hemisphere. Step aboard – watch the stokers fuelling the fireboxes and hear the hiss of steam engines working as the TSS Earnslaw take you on a nostalgic cruise across beautiful Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak High Country Farm where you will enjoy a stunning gourmet BBQ dinner. An after dinner farm show provides a glimpse into high country farming life. Then on your return cruise to Queenstown, relax with a drink from the bar or join a fun sing-along with the ship’s pianist and make a toast to a fantastic holiday!
Drop your rental car off at Queenstown Airport and depart Queenstown.
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