Heading down to the deep South and not sure where to start? Hopefully I can help out, with just the right amount of guidance to get you through an amazing Fiordland adventure. Follow my suggestions or take small snippets. Whether you are travelling with the whole family, as a couple or independently, a local’s advice can be priceless. Think of it as having a friend in Te anau to give you a little push in the right direction!
You arrive in the beautiful township of Te Anau which is just over 2 hours from Queenstown or Invercargill. Take your time and soak in the magnificent countryside, stop somewhere fun for lunch so you can breeze into Te Anau by 2pm when your room at the Getaway Te Anau will be ready and waiting. Head on in and meet the friendly reception staff. They’re full of information and happy to book any tours you’ve got your eye on. If you’re staying in Te Anau during the busy summer season, flick them a quick email or give them a call before you arrive. They’ll have it all booked for you with tickets ready to collect when you check in, so you don’t have to worry about missing out. Be sure to book in a sauna or hot tub before you arrive or as you check in if that’s your thing. Fresh water hot tubs looking over Lake Te Anau, YES PLEASE!
Te Anau Glow Worm Caves - Experience Fordland’s underground scene. Underground caves that is! A twisted underground maze with water rushing through limestone corridors that opens up to a huge grotto filled with glistening glow worms. Sounds neat doesn’t it?! Now, depending on how much time you have, you can either join a Real Journeys Glow Worm Cave tour this afternoon/tonight or leave it for another day if you’re going at a more leisurely pace. The caves departures are throughout the day. Jump on the 4.30pm departure or if you would rather just take your time, have a look around Getaway Te Anau and Te Anau township, grab an early dinner and join one of the evening tours. Personally, I enjoy boarding the boat and cruising over to the caves in the daylight with amazing views of the lake and returning as the sun goes down so you can see the lights of Te Anau township in the distance. The tour goes for 2 hours, 15 mins so check to see when sunset is. You can walk (only 5 mins) from Getaway Te Anau to where your boat departs from for this tour.
I’m going to start day 2 with a tour to Milford Sound (my day 2 and 3 can be swapped, check the weather, it might help you make the decision) VIP Milford (www.vipmilford.co.nz) offers a once in a life time, all inclusive, no stress trip to Milford Sound. No need to worry about navigating Milford Roads steep inclines and breath-taking declines. Have a professional, local driver do it for you. Don’t worry about missing those photo stops, your local driver will stop everywhere you’ve been told about plus some extras he might be keeping up his sleeve. VIP leaves Getaway Te Anau reception at 7.45am so no need to walk into town to meet a huge coach with 100 other people. You’ll spot the 18 seater luxury Mercedes van parked up nice and early! Leaving early is key. It allows you to beat the big buses. The roads are more enjoyable and if it’s not peak season, you may only have to share the viewing deck on the boat with a smaller intimate group. Kick back and enjoy a bite to eat on the cruise of Milford sound as your knowledgeable guide shares a thing or 2 about this amazing place.
Back in Te anau by 3.30pm-4.00pm, it might be time to soak those limbs in your prebooked hot tub!
Let’s go to Doubtful Sound. Another full day tour- but still very different to Milford Sound. Drive on down to Manapouri, or Real Journeys can pick you up from Getaway Te Anau’s back gate. Thinking why do Doubtful when I’ve already done Milford? Check out our Milford and Doubtful blogs Part 1 and Part 2 for an insightful look into the differences between our two exquisite Fiords and what differences to expect when visiting each destination.
Take in the towing peaks that boarder Lake Manapouri as you join your first vessel and begin your journey over to the Wilmot Pass. Here your coach will be waiting to chauffeur you over New Zealand’s most expensive road with a view to take your breath away from the highest point as you look down on Doubtful Sound. You will soon arrive at the spacious, purpose-built catamaran Patea Explorer for a 3 hour cruise on Doubtful Sound. Although wildlife sightings can’t be promised, Doubtful Sound is home to a variety of bird life as well as seals, penguins, dolphins and if you’re lucky, a whale or two in the distance. My favorite part of the day, “The Sound of Silence”. All engines are shut off and guests are asked not to speak or take photos. As you drift silently on the fiord you hear nothing but bird sound and the quiet lapping of water against the boat. A truly special experience.
It’s time to leave this little bit of paradise hidden away in Fiordland. Didn’t get a chance to visit the Glow Worm Caves on your first day? They still run at 9.00am and 10.15am in the summer and 10.15am in the winter so why not take a quick trip before you hit the road.
Take what you need from an action packed itinerary. The staff at Getaway Te Anau are super helpful and can answer all of the questions I may have created! If you’re staying some extra days and have a bit of down time, don’t forget about our beautiful walks and local restaurants. Bring the bikes, we have plenty of tracks for all stages or relax by the lake with some fish ‘n’ chips. The staff at Getaway Te Anau love to hear about your adventures so don’t forget to pop in and let them know how your day went.
Check our current deals here. Don’t forget we can offer a 10% discount on all Real Journeys tours!
Looking for some extra things to do? Check out our Blog on cheap & free activities here
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