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Te Anau and Manapouri are simply perfect destinations for families. Our small, friendly communities are quiet and peaceful places, a relaxing haven for tired families who are touring around New Zealand after the bright lights of busier towns and cities such as Queenstown or Dunedin. Te Anau and Manapouri are also great as holiday destinations for Kiwi families looking for a taste of the old days, when there were more bicycles on the roads than cars.
But we offer far more than that. We are probably one of the cleanest places to live or visit in the world, and at the heart of one of the most wild and beautiful, yet accessible, national parks in the world. There are no spiders, snakes, crocodiles or bears to hurt the kids, and the water tastes good. If you want your children to experience the wonders of nature and grow up appreciating the natural world, then this is the place for you. After all, nature is a playground for kids - a place for exploration, and to stretch imaginations. Behind every rock or mossy tree stump there might just be a fairy or hobbit. Every beach presents possibilities for building dens out of drift wood with dad, creating pebble towers with mum, or splashing a grandparent.
Children are also really great at spotting small things that adults miss, such as beetles, tiny plants, pretty leaves, and worms. They can put us back in touch with nature as well as our inner child.
So stick the kids in some clothes that you don't mind getting dirty, and get out there and enjoy our amazing world heritage nature!
Top five suggestions for enjoying Fiordland National Park, Te Anau and Manapouri with kids
1. Go to the glow worm caves.
2. Enjoy our fabulous parks and go for a day walk on the Kepler track right next to Te Anau, or muck about on Frasers Beach in Manapouri.
5. Eat a pie! All kids love pies, and we have arguably the best in New Zealand. What a great way to fill hungry stomachs while exploring Te Anau, Manapouri and Fiordland!
Top three tips for happy kids in Fiordland National Park
1. Paradise isn't completely perfect! If playing on a beach, be aware that there may be naughty sandflies around, that bite. They don't spread disease, but they can cause kids to itch like crazy and ruin their experience. The best way to avoid being bitten is to move! So play games that involve running around because the sandflies just can't keep up! Another tip is to put kids in long sleeved clothes and long trousers if you intend to hang around a while and not move much. Socks are also a good idea, as being bitten on your feet is particularly annoying. If your kids get bitten, go to our friendly community pharmacy in Te Anau for some anti-itch cream. Another great reason to cover up is our strong sun; it's easy to burn very quickly in New Zealand so cover up with clothes and a hat, and wear sun cream.
2. Always enter the national park prepared and stick to the track. Take water bottles, spare clothing, sun cream, snacks, surprise treats, and waterproofs and hats. The Kepler track is perfect for families, as the first sections, walking south or north, are fairly flat and gently undulating. There are good, wide trails going both north and south from the start of the Kepler track at the south of Lake Te Anau, near the town. There are also toilets along these routes. (However, if walking south, do not let young children walk near the small cliffs next to the Waiau River, which can be dangerously fast and deep.)
3. Slow down and talk to your kids! Nature is a place for exploration. So explore and find! Explain nature to your kids, to give them a love of wilderness and the natural world. Involve them in discussions about why this place is so very special. Encourage their curiosity and questioning, and make their learning experience creative. Make shapes with leaves, and think up imaginary games involving forest goblins. Nature is fun!