Experts in Australia, New Zealand & South Pacific

National parks of New Zealand: Fiordland

Posted 09 October 2015
In the second of our National Parks series, Austravel takes a look at Fiordland National Park on the South Island of New Zealand.

Welcome to the Fiordland National Park, one of the most spectacular of all the national parks in New Zealand. This world famous region is home to some of the most incredible scenery you’re likely to see. If you needed any more reasons, here’s why we think you need to visit.

Quick facts

Best for: Boat cruises to explore lakes, waterfalls and Sounds

Close to: Two hours’ drive from Queenstown

Key sight: Milford Sound

Landscape: High fiords and calm lakes

Fiordland activities

With the rolling ups and downs of the Fiordland landscape, it makes for an exciting route to drive, with none more special than The Milford Road up to Milford Sound. This breathtaking alpine drive is steep and windy with so many photo opportunities available at the viewing points scattered around.

At Te Anau, the village that acts as the gateway to the national park, visitors can visit the Glowworm Caves. Cruise deep inside the caves after crossing Lake Te Anau and see the shimmering display of these unique creatures as they glimmer in the darkness.

One of the most popular activities in the Fiordlands is cruising on the many lakes, wuch as Lake Manapouri or Lake Te Anau. With Austravel’s Milford Sound Nature Cruise you’ll take in the waterfalls, rainforests, towering mountains and wildlife of this spectacular area.

Fiordland wildlife

Much of the Fiordland region is covered by forest, with Beech being the most common type of tree. This forest grows on thin layers of moss on the hard rock of the Fiordlands, while in the wetter regions of the national park there’s an abundance of shrubs, ferns and lichen.

Many threatened native animals call Fiordland home. The takahe, a flightless alpine bird once thought extinct, lives in the Murhison and Stuart Mountains, while yellow-crowned parakeets and mountain parrot the kea can also be spotted. Under the water, black coral trees provide a habitat for lots of marine life, including brachiopods, bottlenose dolphins and New Zealand fur seals.

Fiordland hiking

To many, Fiordland is known as the walking capital of the world. Te Anau is a fantastic point to start, with many walks, including several multi-day hikes, beginning here. The Kepler Track, a 3-4 day trip taking in lakes Te Anau and Manapouri, and Routeburn Track, famous for alpine flowers, are two extraordinary experiences for seasoned hikers.

Fiordland geology

This stunning part of New Zealand’s South Island has 14 fiords stretching some 215km of the western coastline. The peak of the best-known fiord Milford Sound, Mitre Peak, stands 1,692 metres above sea level. In total, the Fiordland National Park covers a huge 4,600 square miles.

No visit to New Zealand’s South Island would be complete without taking in the breathtaking Fiordlands. So consider a visit on your next trip to one of the most scenic parts of the world.