On the tranquil shores of Lake Te Anau fringed by the magnificent Murchison Mountains is the village of Te Anau, gateway to the internationally acclaimed world heritage Fiordland National Park, Doubtful Sound and Milford Sound. Te Anau is the hub of the Fiordland National Park, being 2 hours closer to Milford sound than Queenstown, the effort of shifting camp for the night is well rewarded by shaving four hours of what would otherwise be a very long day. This will give you 4 more hours to check out impressive features such as the dazzling reflections of the mirror lakes and the many scenic lookouts en route.
Fiordland is one of the oldest parts of New Zealand with rock dating back over 450 million years. Giant valleys have been formed by erosion from the elements and glaciers parading their length for in excess of 200 million years. Fiordland is one of the last great bastions of true wilderness in the southern hemisphere and perhaps even the world. It is home to some of the finest walking tracks, trout fishing and hunting the world has to offer.
Due to its rugged isolation Fiordland has many endemic species including over 700 varieties of plants that are found no where else in the world and the world’s only flightless parrot, the nocturnal Kakapo. This massive expanse of wilderness is the staging of some of New Zealand’s most dramatic scenery. Mammoth mountain landscapes dwarf a carpet of plush forest blanketing the valley’s and foot hills below. This is one of the most unique, picturesque and pristine habitats on the planet.
This cold and desolate region was seldom frequented by Maori and only then in search of Pounamu. Captain Cook sailed past the 14 sounds of Fiordland on his first visit in 1769, he was reluctant to sail up Doubtful Sound, hence its name, he sailed further down the coast and stopped in the evening again reluctant to enter this fiord aptly named Dusky Sound. Milford Sound personifies the majesty of the dramatic and diverse landscape that is Fiordland National Park. The crowning jewel of the sound is the charismatic Mitre Peak rising nearly 1700m from the sea to its summit. The sound, which is in actual fact a fiord, abounds with marine life including dolphins, tawaki or fiordland crested penguin, a resident population of fur seals, various sea birds and a myriad of native forest birds.