One of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites, Fiordland National Park is New Zealand's largest park, as well as one of the largest in the world. Although it may be the largest, it is the least explored park in the country. The park takes up the southwest region of the south island. The Department of Conservation manages the park (like all of the other parks in the country) and they try to keep development minimal in efforts to protect the environment and manage human activity. When visiting the park, prepare for rain as the park as over 200 days of rain per year.
Mirror Lake, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand
Milford and Doubtful Sound
are two incredible sights in Fiordland National Park. A sound is a large inlet of the sea larger than a bay and wider than a fjord. On your way into (and out of) Milford Sound, you will pass through the Homer Tunnel, which is about 0.75 miles long. It was once the largest gravel-surfaced tunnel in the world but has undergone some transformations since then. The tunnel is surrounded by astounding views from the valley of the Hollyford River.
Lake Te Anau
is another sight within Fiordland National Park worth seeing. It is the second largest lake in New Zealand. The lake is the starting point of two different New Zealand Great Walks: the Milford Track and the Kepler Track.
Fiordland National Park takes up the southwest region of the South Island in New Zealand. There are four main destinations throughout the park: Milford Sound, Te Anau, Manapouri, and Doubtful Sound. In Milford Sound, there are only a few places to stay, but a good amount of campsites. While visiting Milford Sound, and most other places in the park, it is imperative that you bring bug repellent and netting to cover you up, as the sandflies in this area are extremely aggravating. Te Anau is the last town where you can stop for gas before getting into Milford so be sure to fill up the gas tank here. There are a few accommodations in town, a grocery store, and restaurants. Most people use Te Anau as the last stop before driving two hours into Milford Sound, so it is the best place to stock up on food, gear, and gas.
Manapouri is similar to Te Anau in that it is the gateway to Doubtful and Dusky Sound. Doubtful Sound (actually a fiord) is another incredible area in the park where you can take cruises, kayak, hike, and see wildlife. Doubtful sound is much larger than Milford Sound, and less crowded too. There are not many accommodations here; you can either stay at the Deep Cove Hostel or sleep aboard a cruise ship for the night!
This park is neighbored by Mount Aspiring National Park. Queenstown is a large town on the outskirts of the park. Many remote trekking excursions leave from Queenstown. Near Queenstown are a few ski fields if you happen to be visiting in the winter; they are Cadrona and Treble Cone.
Take a cruise on Milford or Doubtful Sound. At Milford, there are mostly day trip cruises that take you along the sound, underneath a waterfall, and out to where the sound meets the sea. The three main cruise companies are Cruise Milford NZ, Milford Deep Underwater Observatory, and Real Journeys. The latter actually offers an overnight cruise if you wish to do that. In Doubtful Sound, you can take day cruises or overnight cruises with Real Journeys or Fiordland Cruises. These both include kayaking trips around the fiord. Whales, dolphins, penguins, and other wildlife tend to make appearances on these cruises.
Hiking is a very popular activity in Fiordland National Park. There are tons of trails throughout the park that can be done independently or with a guide. Two of the Great Walks are located in this park: The Milford Track and The Kepler Track. Both of these take a few days to complete, so you will want to be well prepared if you plan on doing these. Other great trails are the Hollyford Track, the Hump Ridge Track, and Lake Marion.
Food and Dining
Te Anau and Manapouri are the best places to go if you are looking to dine in a restaurant or café. Sandfly Café, La Toscana, and Redcliffe Café are three great options in Te Anau. In Manapouri, you can eat at the Manapouri Lakeview Café. As stated earlier, there aren't many options for food in either Milford or Doubtful Sound. If you are staying at the Milford Lodge, there is a kitchen available for use of guests if you bring your own groceries. The hostel also has a restaurant, but the food is pretty pricey. In Doubtful Sound, there are a few places to get food and if you do an overnight cruise food is included and it is very tasty!
State Highway 94 will take you to the park, via rental car or bus, from Queenstown or Invercargill. Intercity or Atomic Shuttle will get you to Queenstown or Te Anau, which is the main center in the park. If you wish to visit Doubtful Sound you will need to get to Manapouri and from there a coach associated with your tour company will drive you to the ship. Intercity will get you from Te Anau to Manapouri and vice versa. Once in the park, you can get around by bus. The main areas in the park are pretty far away from each other so walking is really only an option once you are in a specific location.