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U.S.FTC GUIDELINES PLEASE NOTE: we act as an affiliate for several companies that feature on our website. In some cases we may earn a commission from referrals to those companies. For further information please refer to our Privacy and Disclaimer policies which can be found in the "US" tab.

If you make one trip in your lifetime, make it to Fiordland National Park New Zealand - a world heritage site.

So what's all the hype about?

Fiordland National Park New Zealand is a place of superlatives - Awesome! Stunning! Beautiful! Indescribable!

Pictures do not do it justice (yes, it really is that good).

Wow! Do we need to say any more? Pic courtesy Tourism Holdings

Famed for dramatic scenery, unique nature and wildlife, and three major walking tracks, this is an amazing region, and an absolute "must see" on your New Zealand holiday.

Every time we come here we cannot believe that somewhere as magical as this actually exists.

From day trips and short cruises, to hikes, and awesome overnight cruises, Fiordland National Park New Zealand has something to suit all ages, budgets, and tastes.

And we are confident that everyone, from seasoned travelers to beginners, will leave Fiordland thinking "now that was something very special!".

Where is Fiordland National Park New Zealand?

Fiordland National Park is located on the South West coast of New Zealand's South Island, and sits below the wild West Coast and to the West of Southland.

Characterized by a series of spectacular "sounds" including the iconic Milford and Doubtful sounds, it is the largest national park in New Zealand, and was established in 1952.

Fiordland National Park New Zealand is one of the southern hemisphere's great wilderness regions, and in 1986 was awarded World Heritage status.

So grab a coffee, sit back and enjoy as we introduce you to the wonders of Fiordland National Park.

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* Getting here

* The BEST Tours

* About Fiordland National Park New Zealand

* Maori heritage

* Wonderful wildlife

* Where to stay

* More to see and do

* Fiordland National Park New Zealand facts

* Maps

* Walks and treks

The road to Milford Sound runs through the spectacular Cleddau Valley. Image courtesy Tourism New Zealand

How to get here

By Road

The drive into Fiordland National Park is one of the World's great drives.

If you are driving from Queenstown, follow State Highway 6 South until it meets with State Highway 94. SH94 will then take you West to the main service town for Fiordland, Te Anau.

SH94 continues on all the way to Milford Sound.

You can see the various routes on our State Highways map.

From Queenstown to Milford Sound is about 3.5 hours drive, each way.

From Te Anau to Milford Sound is around 1.5 hours drive, each way.

Access to Doubtful Sound is via the village of Manapouri, a short drive South from Te Anau along SH95.

Scenic flights from Queenstown combined with a nature cruise are a great way to see Milford Sound - click for more information

Access to Doubtful Sound is then only available on organized tours and requires a boat crossing of Lake Manapouri, then a bus trip over Wilmot Pass, before boarding your cruise vessel on Doubtful Sound (don't worry, it's worth it).

By Air

Charter and scenic flights are available into Te Anau, Doubtful Sound and Milford Sound, but they are very weather dependent.

There are various operators based in Dunedin, Queenstown, and Wanaka.

You can find more information at the following links:

Te Anau Airport

Wanaka Airport

Dunedin Airport

Queenstown Airport

Majestic Milford Sound - image courtesy Great South

What tours should we take?

If you scroll down this page there's lots of helpful information on Fiordland National Park New Zealand.

And you can view the full selection of Fiordland tours by clicking HERE.

How high is that!!! Pic courtesy Sue Lovell

But which are the best? Well, if you would rather cut to the chase, here's our selection of what's hot!

We've based our selections on our own experiences, and on feedback from hundreds of other visitors, and when you click on the "Check Availability" buttons for the tours below, you can read those reviews and see what others thought.

Here are our top 5 (just click on the link to go to the tour details):

1) Milford Sound ("The eighth Wonder of the World") day trip from Queenstown including cruise

2) The wilderness awaits - Doubtful Sound tour and cruise from Te Anau

3) Fall asleep on Doubtful Sound - overnight cruise

4) Above and below Milford - cruise, kayak, and underwater observatory

5) Wake up on the Milford Mariner - overnight cruise on Milford Sound

1) Experience "The eighth Wonder of the World" - Milford Sound Day Trip and Cruise from Queenstown - this is Fiordland National Park New Zealand at it's very best!

Once described by famous English author Rudyard Kipling, as "The eighth Wonder of the World", Milford Sound is a mystical, beautiful place.

Imagine huge peaks that climb into the clouds, thundering waterfalls, that pierce those same clouds as they tumble into the depths, and some unique wildlife, and you have an idea what this stunning place is like.

This is one trip you have to do.

It may be the most popular attraction in the country, and with very good reason, but don't think that it's just a "glammed up" tourist venue.

There are no bright lights at Milford Sound. Just nature at its very, very best.

Your adventure starts in Queenstown, and includes air conditioned bus transport to and from Milford Sound, an entertaining and experienced local guide, your lunch, and an unforgettable cruise on Milford Sound.

And whilst Milford Sound is everything that the brochures say it is, the journey there is just as inspiring. The Milford Road is one of the best drives on the planet, and takes you through ancient native forests, past huge lakes, and into pre-historic valleys. 

Yep, it's that good.

Click on the "Check Availability" button now to learn more, read reviews, and book your tour.

2) No longer Milford's little brother, Doubtful Sound is a "must see"

Doubtful Sound, for many years was "the other sound". Bypassed by tourists in favor of it's more popular cousin, it was often overlooked.

But then, word began to spread, and every now and then, someone would say, "hey, I thought Doubtful was better than Milford".

You will never forget the pristine environment of Doubtful Sound.

And as word spread, so did the number of visitors, and these days, Doubtful Sound can stand proudly as a wonderful, wilderness alternative to Milford Sound.

Your Doubtful Sound adventure starts in Te Anau, the main service town for Fiordland. From Te Anau it's a short drive to Lake Manapouri, where you board your boat for the trip across the lake. At the other side your coach will transport you to the peak of Wilmot Pass. At 670 meters, the views over Doubtful Sound are stunning.

After descending to Deep Cove you'll board your tour boat for your wilderness cruise.

Over the next three hours or so, your expert captain will take you on a journey revealing the history, beauty, and amazing wildlife of this pristine wilderness.

Huge peaks, towering waterfalls, dolphins, fur seals, and perhaps, even penguins, are on the agenda.

If you want to experience New Zealand's wilderness, this is the tour for you.

Bookings are essential, so to check availability, read reviews, and to make your bookings, click on the button below.

3) Fall asleep on Doubtful Sound!

One of the more unique ways to experience Doubtful Sound is on an overnight cruise.

Just imagine waking up on the clear, calm waters of Doubtful Sound, then walking up on deck, and being greeted by scenery like this.

Imagine waking up on the clear, calm waters of Doubtful Sound!

Your three masted flat hulled sailing boat provides smooth progress and adds to the charm of this magical paradise.

Cruise the full length of the fiord, making your way into it's pristine coves and bays, all the while watching out for the local wildlife. Dolphins, fur seals, and penguins frequent the area.

In the afternoon your captain will steer your boat into a sheltered cove, where you can explore the shoreline by kayak, or join your guide on the smaller tender boat for a nature cruise.

And if you're feeling adventurous, there's even the opportunity for a swim!

The ample viewing decks are perfect for watching the world go by, and the on board bar, dining room and viewing lounge will ensure a wonderful evening with your fellow guests. Of course your tour cost includes a beautiful buffet dinner, and a hearty breakfast.

After a full day, your cosy cabin guarantees a good nights sleep.

These tours are very popular, so don't delay, check out what all the fuss is about by clicking on the button below.

4) Cruise on Milford Sound, and visit the Underwater Observatory - with optional kayak tour!

One of the best bits of any Milford Sound trip is a visit to the Milford Sound Discovery Center and Underwater Observatory.

The optional kayak on Milford Sound is awesome.

Located in its own complex, and only accessible by boat, the center details the history and ecology of Milford Sound.

But the best bit, in our opinion, is the underwater observatory. After descending 10 meters below the surface, huge picture windows reveal several species of fish, such as perch and cod, and surprisingly, coral. We were amazed on our last visit to find coral growing in cold water!

In addition to the observatory, your ticket includes a 2.5 hour cruise where you can expect to see the best of Milford.

Towering peaks, plunging waterfalls, and a variety of local wildlife.

Deep under the surface at the Milford Sound Discovery Center and Underwater Observatory

And the two on board naturalists are ready for any questions you might have. They really know their stuff.

And because the tour operates around mid-day, they miss the busy peak periods.

Your cruise also includes a picnic lunch.

Now if you really want to get close to the deep dark waters of Milford, the optional 1 hour kayak extension might be just the thing for you. With a maximum of 12 kayaks and an experienced guide, it's the perfect way to wrap up your Milford Sound experience.

But don't take our word for it.

Click on the "Check Availability" button and read what others had to say.

Highly recommended.

5) How about an over nighter on mystical Milford?

Milford Sound is one of those places that you never want to leave.

So why not make the most of your time there and take an overnight cruise?

Ahh the serenity! The Milford Mariner in all her glory!

The Milford Mariner is purpose built to provide you with a relaxing and comfortable journey.

Cruise the pristine waters of Milford Sound, and experience all that this very special place has to offer.

Amazing peaks and waterfalls, unique wildlife, and hopefully some new friends, are all part of the Mariner package.

The Milford Mariner will take you the full length of Milford Sound, to the Tasman Sea and back.

Your experienced nature guide is on hand to tell you about the region's history, ecology and wildlife, and to answer all of those questions that we know you will have.

Grab a kayak and explore, or take a ride with your guide on the smaller tender vessel, and really get in close to those towering cliffs.

What a great way to end the day! The Milford Mariner buffet.

The spacious en-suite cabins are great and ensure you a sound nights sleep, whilst the lounge, dining and bar areas provide the ideal opportunity for you to relax at day's end.

Your tour cost includes a 3 course evening dinner and a cooked breakfast.

Here are some comments from previous guests:

"This tour was amazing!" (Maree K June 2016)

"We loved this trip. Great staff, beautiful location, I would go again." (jillian g March 2016)

"fantastic experience from start to finish. fun, friendly and professional staff. the food was fantastic and plentiful, easily catering to my gluten free requirements. cabins comfortable. stu was a stand out. had great fun on the tender and enjoyed his slideshow. i would recommend it to anyone." (Samantha l March 2016)

The Milford Mariner is an adventure not to be missed, and is a unique way to experience Fiordland National Park New Zealand.

We know you will love it!

To read reviews and check availability, just click on the button below.

Fiordland National Park New Zealand - A Southern Wilderness

The breath taking Fiordland National Park New Zealand is located in the south western corner of New Zealand's South Island.

The pretty town of Te Anau, located on the shores of Lake Te Anau, is the gateway to the southern wilderness area of Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound, is the departure point for many walking tracks, and is the location of the Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre.

Doubtful Sound Hall Arm courtesy

It is also the departure point for tours to the Te Anau caves. Take a scenic cruise across Lake Te Anau before entering the caves where you explore further by path and small boat. The caves are home to thousands of glow worms, a truly beautiful sight. Well worth a tour.

Milford Sound is the only fiord accessible by road. And the drive to Milford Sound from Te Anau (around 120 kilometres) has to be one of the most spectacular drives in the world.

Raging rivers, waterfalls, snow capped peaks, and the Homer Tunnel! The Homer Tunnel , which was opened in 1954 (after taking 20 years to build) stretches 1,270 metres through the mountains, and provides the only road access into Milford Sound.

What an amazing drive. Regular tours to Milford Sound also operate from New Zealand's "Adventure Capital" Queenstown New Zealand.

The eastern entrance to Homer Tunnel

Although the drive from Queenstown to Milford Sound is lengthy (about 4 hours drive each way), the scenery is spectacular. If you decide on a Milford Sound day trip from Queenstown, we highly recommend taking a coach tour . Sit back, relax, and let someone else do the driving for you.

From the head of the fiord, regular cruises take visitors past majestic Mitre Peak and 16km out to the open sea.

According to Wikipedia, more than half a million people visit Milford Sound each year, and it has been voted as the World's number 1 tourist destination. British author, Rudyard Kipling once declared it the "Eighth Wonder of the World".

Magical Milford Sound - pic courtesy Tourism Holdings

I can highly recommend a Milford Sound cruise. Towering peaks, plunging waterfalls, mist shrouded mountains, and unique wildlife combine to make Milford Sound perhaps the number one destination in New Zealand.

And while you are there, don't forget to visit the Milford Sound Discovery Centre & Milford Deep Underwater Observatory.

Doubtful Sound - three times longer and 10 times larger than Milford Sound - is Fiordland's second largest fiord. Accessible by boat and plane, this remote wilderness area is renowned for its wildlife such as dolphins, fur seals, and penguins. Plunging waterfalls, deep still waters, rugged rainforests and misty peaks are all part of the Doubtful Sound experience. You can learn more about tours of Doubtful Sound here.

Maori Legend and European Visits - Fiordland National Park New Zealand

Maori, the original inhabitants of New Zealand, and the first people to discover the beauty of Fiordland New Zealand, tell of the legend of this remote wilderness.

Maori legend has it that demi-god Tu-te-raki-whanoa used his Te Hamo (an adze) to carve the mighty fiords from solid rock. Beginning in the far south, Tu-te-raki-whanoa formed the coastline and adjoining islands. Milford Sound (Piopiotahi) was his greatest achievement. The underworld goddess Hine-nui-te-po was worried that visitors would never leave this beautiful place so she released the "infamous" sandflies to encourage them to leave. Yes, sandflies are a problem in Milford Sound, but a good spray of repellant keeps them at bay.

Early Maori visited Fiordland New Zealand on hunting trips, and for greenstone / New Zealand jade - that was found at Anita Bay and at the mouth of Milford Sound.

The English explorer Captain James Cook and his crew, who spent five weeks anchored in Dusky Sound in 1773, were the first Europeans to visit Fiordland.

His maps and descriptions of the area attracted sealers and whalers who established New Zealand's first European settlements. From the mid-19th century on, surveyors, explorers and prospectors began exploring Fiordland's interior.

Nature / Wildlife in Fiordland National Park New Zealand

Fiordland New Zealand is a haven for native New Zealand birds, such as tui, kea, kaka, native pigeon, bellbird, tomtit and grey warbler, and the endangered takahe.

A Kea having a pick at a car - picture courtesy Joshin Yamada

Perhaps the best known bird is the Kea. This gregarious alpine parrot is well known for its cheeky nature and unwelcome habit of attacking plastic and rubber fittings on cars.

It delights in picking cars to bits with its strong beak.

If you have a rental car, beware the Kea! You will see them throughout the region, and they are commonly seen in the parking area near the entrance to the Homer Tunnel.

The Milford Discovery Center and Underwater Observatory - we thank them for this image

The flightless alpine takahe was thought to be extinct until the 1950s when a small group was rediscovered in Fiordland's Murchison and Stuart mountains. Since then, a breeding programme has helped increase the population, and DOC continues to carefully monitor the only wild population of about 160 takahe.

 Marine life thrives in the fiords, home to bottlenose dolphins, New Zealand fur seals, Fiordland crested and little blue penguins, and visiting whales.

The Fiordland Crested Penguin - pic courtesy Tourism New Zealand

Scenic cruises and kayak tours explore the fiords and wildlife in its natural habitat.

Milford Sound's high annual rainfall and distinctive narrow shape creates a fresh water layer on top of the seawater, allowing deep-water dwelling species to exist at a much shallower depth.

The Milford Sound Discovery Center and Underwater Observatory and guided dive tours give visitors a glimpse of rare species such as the red and black corals.

Click on the following link for information on a wide range of Milford Sound tours.

Walking / Tramping In Fiordland National Park New Zealand

New Zealand is regarded as one of the premier walking / tramping / hiking destinations in the world. And Fiordland ranks as perhaps the best region in New Zealand for those wanting to see this magnificent country on foot.

Taking a break on the Milford Track - our thanks to Wuhte for the image

Three of New Zealand's nine Great Walks are in Fiordland New Zealand. The Kepler, Routeburn and Milford tracks are regarded as some of the world's best walks.

Milford Track - a four-day 53.9km hike between Lake Te Anau and Sandfly Point in Milford Sound - is one of New Zealand's famous tramping routes. Walkers can choose to be independent or guided, but numbers on the track are restricted and accommodation must be reserved. Boat access is required at both ends.There are several tour companies that offer guided walks, and these can be a great way to learn more about this iconic track. You can view some of these tours here.

Routeburn Track , a 32km traverse of Mount Aspiring and Fiordland national park, takes about three days to complete. Access is less restricted than Milford Track, and camping is permitted. Much of the Routeburn is accessible to day walkers, and there are a range of walking tours available.

Beautiful scenery on the Routeburn Track - pic courtesy Miles Holden

Kepler Track , a 67km journey through Fiordland national park, starts and finishes at Lake Te Anau. The Kepler is one of New Zealand's safest back country tracks. It has no river crossings, is well marked and well provided with huts. The complete loop takes three to four days, and is suitable for moderate outdoor and fitness ability.

In addition to the Milford, Kepler, and Routeburn Tracks, Fiordland National Park New Zealand is also home to a number of shorter walks. The Department of Conservation (DOC) have an excellent FREE 39 page pdf booklet available, which details these great walks. You can download it here.

One of the most popular walks is the 3 day Hollyford Track guided walk.

Accommodation in Fiordland National Park New Zealand

Te Anau has a full range of accommodation, with everything from campgrounds and backpacker lodges, to luxury hotels. Te Anau is a good option if you don't fancy the long day trip to Milford Sound from Queenstown or Dunedin.

If you are visiting Doubtful Sound, the nearest accommodation is located at the village of Manapouri, which is located around 20 kilometres from Te Anau.

Accommodation in Milford Sound is limited to the Milford Sound Lodge, and the Mitre Peak Lodge (Mitre Peak Lodge is generally available only to walkers on the Milford Track). You can read about them on Trip Advisor.

For something different, you also have the option of overnight accommodation on several cruise boats that operate on the sounds. Our favorite is the well known Milford Mariner.

And if walking/tramping/hiking is your thing, the Department of Conservation (DOC) administer a wide selection of campsites and 60 back country huts. You can check them out at the DOC website.

Luxury Accommodation in Fiordland National Park New Zealand - Spoil Yourself

Fiordland National Park New Zealand is home to Fiordland Lodge.

Stunning Fiordland Lodge

Located in a stunning setting overlooking Lake Te Anau, Fiordland Lodge offers guests serenity, luxury, and fine dining, all within five kilometres of Te Anau.

Ten beautiful suites and two traditionally constructed log cabins offer guests the perfect environment in which to relax.

Set in 40 acres, Fiordland Lodge guests can choose from a wide range of activities such as fly fishing for brown and rainbow trout, hiking, hunting, and bird watching.

And There Is Lots More To Do In Fiordland National Park New Zealand

Here are some other great things to do in Fiordland National Park New Zealand:

* Paddle a kayak on Milford or Doubtful Sounds.

* Take a guided hunting trip.

* Snorkel in Milford Sound and be amazed by the unique marine life.

Jurassic Park? No, it's the Milford Sound Road West of the Homer Tunnel

* Fish for brown and rainbow trout in the many waterways of the region.

* Have a game of golf on Te Anau's 18 hole layout, with great views over Lake Te Anau (it may be difficult to concentrate on your game!). And for the kids and young at heart, try Te Anau's 18 hole mini golf course.

* Enjoy a leisurely horse trek in the rolling countryside around Te Anau.

* Hire a pushbike and take in the sights of Te Anau.

* Experience Te Anau back country on a guided quad bike tour.

Interesting Fiordland Facts About Fiordland National Park New Zealand

* Fiordland National Park New Zealand is the nation's biggest national park and covers five percent of the country's total land mass.

* Lakes Manapouri (440 metres)and Hauroko (462 metres) are New Zealand's deepest lakes.

* Lake Te Anau (342 square kilometres)is New Zealand's second largest

Magical Milford Sound

lake, after Lake Taupo NZ (616 square kilometres) on the North Island.

* Milford Sound, with more than 8m of rain annually, is one of the wettest places on earth. But don't let that stop you from visiting. When it rains, the waterfalls rage down the towering cliffs, and the mist adds to the feel of Milford.

* Homer Tunnel, the only road access to Milford Sound, took nearly 20 years to complete. When you visit, you will understand why.

Fiordland National Park New Zealand - don't miss it.

Visit the official Tourism New Zealand website for more information on the amazing Fiordland National Park New Zealand.

State Highways Map

Fiordland Map

Fiordland map courtesy

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