in little ol' Te Anau
New Zealand is home to some of the most outstanding hiking in the world, with our collection of local Great Walks and variety of trails. Te Anau is nestled within some of the best, with The Kepler Track, The Milford Track, The Routeburn Track and Hollyford just around the bend.
Of course, we've hiked them all ourselves so have pulled together our top tips for each stroll below.
Hike our Great Walks outside of the high season for less crowds and cheaper fees, but keep an eye on the weather.
The Milford Track, Fiordland National Park is described across the globe as 'the finest walk in the world' for good reason. Hike along glacial carved valleys, traverse through ancient rainforest and drop your jaw as cascading waterfalls - but be sure to lock in your huts well in advance. The whole season books up in under three hours every year, rain, shine or world pandemic.
Check out our Camp Mother’s blog about her unique journey along the Milford Track here. Find out all the nitty gritty and Milford Track updates on the Department of Conservation website here. And be sure to check the weather!
The Routeburn Track is the ultimate alpine adventure, taking you through ice-carved valleys and below the majestic peaks of the Southern Alps - Kā Tiritiri o te Moana. A short trip from tranquil Te Anau or bustling Queenstown, this Great Walk links Mount Aspiring and Fiordland National Parks in Te Wāhipounamu – South West New Zealand World Heritage Area.
Weaving through meadows, reflective tarns and alpine gardens, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular vistas over vast mountain ranges and valleys. The Routeburn Track can be hiked in either direction. The track is well marked and signposted, but some sections are steep and rough and may be muddy and slippery. Poor weather conditions can make this walk challenging, even in the Great Walks season (November to April).
There is also the option to add on the Caples Track to create a loop, for an day and a half of adventure. For the tale of two sisters doing exactly that, check out our Routeburn Track blog. For transport options, check out Tracknet.
Tis' the hiking season
The Great Walk season usually runs from the start of October to the end of April and huts book up fast. As in under three hours fast. From May to late October, it can be cold and wet, with ice, snow and short daylight hours - only go if you have alpine, river crossing and navigation skills. Don't say we didn't warn you.
Set out on a wilderness adventure above the clouds, high in the mountains above Lakes Te Anau and Manapouri in Te Wāhipounamu – South West New Zealand World Heritage Area. The drama of these vast tussock-covered ridgelines and spectacular alpine vistas contrasts with the peaceful lakes and the beech forest of the Iris Burn valley.
The Kepler Track is circular and can be walked in either direction. The track is well marked and signposted, but some sections are steep and rough and may be muddy and slippery. Poor weather conditions can make this walk challenging, even in the Great Walks season (November to April). Check out Tracknet for transport options and the Department of Conservation website for more information.
The Hollyford Track is not a New Zealand Great Walk, it is a brilliant one. A four day, one-way track, follows the Hollyford river to the sea. In Fiordland National Park it rains two days out of three – celebrate it – that’s why this area is so stunningly beautiful
The Hollyford Track is the only major low altitude track in Fiordland National Park that can be walked all year round – it also connects to the Fiordland coastline. This 56-km tramping track starts at the Lower Hollyford Road and leads to the old port of Martins Bay. Situated among the sheer rock walls of the Darren Mountains, the track follows the Hollyford River - Whakatipu Ka Tuka on its journey to the sea.
The Hollyford Track is not a New Zealand Great Walk, it's a brilliant one. Features are the two lakes; Lake Alabaster - Wāwāhi Waka and Lake McKerrow - Whakatipu Waitai. The site of the now abandoned Jamestown, which was established in the 1870s, can be found on the shore of Lake McKerrow.