- Hiking / Trekking
Te Anau is the access point to Milford Sound and also the where you can find 'Great Walks' tracks, a set of recognized long trails in New Zealand. The town itself has nothing special to offer, but it is beside the largest lake on South Island, from which it takes its name.
Whilst visiting during the winter, I decided to tackle part of the 'Kepler Track', which is a 3 to 4 day hike in total. As the summits were covered in snow, after walking for 14 kilometers, I was happy to arrive at the first hostel, where I decided to spend the night before my descent the following morning.
It was a tough uphill trek but the view from the peak was spectacular. It overlooks Lake Te Anau, with Fiordland and its snow covered summits as a backdrop. I was sorry that I couldn't do the entire hike but, if you're in the region for a few days, then I recommend you at least do this first part of the walk.
I enjoyed the laid back, quiet feel of this town, particularly when strolling alongthe banks of Lake Te Anau, South Island's second largest lake. I spent two days walking these shores, stopping every now and then for a swim, despite the annoying sand flies. They're even more irritating here than in other parts of South Island. The moment you stretch out on a deserted beach, they attack! In other words, keep your insect repellent on you at all times.
If you are planning to go on a trek, Te Anau is the departure point for two of New Zealand's 'Great Walks' -the five day Milford Track, which takes you to Milford Sound and is reputed to be the best in the world (albeit a hard one!), as well as the Kepler Track that lasts three days, finishing at Manapouri Lake.
Te Anau is also the starting point of a beautiful road trip to Milford Sound. A lot of tourists just stop here to take photos, but to really appreciate the scenery, I recommend you stay for a few days and make the most of the mountain walks in this national park. I loved Gertrude Saddle, which overlooks the fjords, alongside Key Summit, with its 360° view of the neighboring ranges.