A world renowned haven for adventurers, Fiordland National Park should be at the top of your traveling list if “tramping” (the colloquial phrase for a long hike) is your style. Then again, anyone who can appreciate the type of views that glacially-carved fjords and impressive, saw-toothed peaks provide will feel at home here. The largest park in New Zealand, you'll find that a truly dedicated adventure-seeker can make dozens of trips into this sacred territory and continue to find novelty in its unrestrained beauty. Read on as we touch on some of the hallmarks of this grandiose region at the southwest tip of New Zealand.
The small town of Te Anau is considered the gateway to the park and is the main access route by road, although there are airports in Manapouri and Milford Sound as well. You can also enter the area by boat via Invercargill to the south. Yeah, yeah, but what is there to do this far off-the-beaten-path? We'd say that the type of people to truly enjoy this vast national park would be travelers of the world that consider themselves hikers, climbers, scuba divers, kayakers, and anyone who doesn't mind being floored by a hell of a view. If you count yourself among the aforementioned, then count yourself in. Just be prepared for the occasional shift toward cold weather (even in January and February) and the likelihood of rain.
Hikers have a medley of choices, with distance walks that put the tame wanderings of other countries to shame, while even five minute strolls to waterfalls, lakeshore viewing platforms, and mountainous vista can be had off of Milford Road as it travels west from Te Anau. If you're serious about seeing the area, put aside up to four days to hike the Kepler Track, the Milford Track or the Routeburn Track. All tracks ask a moderate amount of fitness in exchange for the pristine natural beauty of the park and have well-kept accommodations and signage.
Climbers will find themselves best served in upper Hollyford Valley and off of Borland Road, although you'll need proper equipment depending on the conditions. Further information can be found here. Wet suit scuba diving and snorkeling are also popular off-shore, with a wide variety of marine life that includes centuries-old black coral. Check here for scuba diving info and resources.
In providing these broad brushstrokes, we fear that we haven't quite made clear how gorgeous this part of the world is. Visit the included website and attached videos for a more complete understanding of what you'd encounter in Fiordland National Park.
Note:Many folks will take boat rides and guided tours through the incredible Milford Sound; if you want more on Milford Sound in particular, we've given it its own activity page.