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Te Anau and Manapouri are the gateways to Fiordland National Park, 1.2 million hectares of dramatic and awe-inspiring forested mountains, fiords, coastline, rivers and lakes in the south west of the south island of New Zealand, featured in both Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit. It is part of Te Wahipounamu, a World Heritage Area, and was given this important United Nations status for its outstanding natural features. (You can visit the UNESCO web page about Fiordland.)
Fiordland National Park is the largest national park in New Zealand and is world famous for its much-visited fiords at Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound and its Great Walk tracks in the Milford, Routeburn and Kepler regions. It is also world famous for its indigenous birds, including the exceptionally rare takahe, and its incredible southern beech and podocarp forests, with some trees more than 800 years old. But Fiordland National Park is so much more. Whether you love tramping, kayaking, hunting, fishing, mountain running, or enjoying our amazing wilderness by boat, plane or helicopter or just by sitting and gazing at our wonderful views from a lake-front bench, this is a full-on natural paradise that suits everyone's needs.
Te Anau and Manapouri: the heart of Fiordland
Te Anau and Manapouri are the only towns at the heart of the national park, with all the facilities you need for your Fiordland adventure. We are situated almost exactly half way down Fiordland National Park, with the park stretching north, south and west from our towns (see below map). We are built right on the border; the lake shores that meet our lake front walk ways are inside the national park; dip your toe in the water at the end of our main street in Te Anau and you are in the national park. No other towns are this close (and development inside the park is banned). We are unquestionably therefore the place to base yourself if visiting Fiordland; and Te Anau is also the location of the Department of Conservation Fiordland visitor centre, which is open daily, free to enter, and only a short lake-front walk south of the main street. It is packed with information about Fiordland and gives you all the advice you need about enjoying the national park.
Entering the park from Te Anau and Manapouri
You can walk straight in to the national park from Te Anau on the Kepler track. It's free to walk on the track on day walks going in a southerly direction down the Waiau river, or north along the western shores of Lake Te Anau. The easiest way to get into the national park from Manapouri is to row into the park across the Waiau River or hop on a cruise boat.
Going north: entering the park from Te Anau's Milford Road
The 120km Milford Road begins in Te Anau and heads north, entering the national park and ending at the iconic Milford Sound. This is the only sealed road that goes inside the national park. There is no toll to drive this road if you are considering taking your own vehicle, although there are coach transport providers too. See our Milford Road page.
Going south: entering the park from Te Anau's Southern Scenic Route
You can access the less-visited southern regions of the park, including the Lake Monowai, and the Humpridge track, by road from Te Anau and Manapouri by heading down the Southern Scenic Route road (which is not in the national park but runs parallel to its eastern border) and turning off this road onto side roads heading west into the park (generally unsealed gravel roads). There is a mini-coach provider that can take you to southern parts of the park. See our Southern park access page.
Department of Conservation information
For more information about facilities in the national park and full information about the park's flora and fauna, and conservation work here, go to the Department of Conservation. Its fantastic site is packed with information about the park and what to do here.