Milford Sound with Mitre Peak in distance

Introduction

Fiordland National Park (established in 1952) has spectacular ice-carved fiords, lakes and valleys, rugged granite tops and pristine mountain to sea vistas.

Find things to do and places to stay Fiordland National Park

With its stunning scenery, Fiordland is a fantastic place to take your boat for scenic touring, fishing or fun.

There are numerous lakes, rivers and coastal locations to enjoy boating in Fiordland. Some of the most popular with boat launching facilities are:

Boating rules and bylaws

Keep safe on the water and take notice of all access lane and speed boat rules, especially in high recreation use areas like Lake Manapouri and Lake Te Anau. Conditions can change very rapidly with the onset of bad weather.

Boating rules and safety information – Environment Southland website

Marine reserves

There are 10 marine reserves bordering Fiordland National Park. These reserves have rules in them to protect nature.

Fiordland marine reserves.

Didymo controls for boat users

Clean, check, dry between waterways to help prevent the spread of didymo and other freshwater pests.

There are special conditions in place to protect Fiordland National Park from further spread of the freshwater weed didymo. Boating in controlled areas is restricted – some areas are closed and others require a permit from DOC.

Biosecurity information for boat users – Environment Southland website

More about preventing freshwater pests in Fiordland National Park.

Darran Mountains

The Darran Mountains in Fiordland provide the greatest climbing challenge in the Fiordland area.

The most popular access is via the upper Hollyford Valley just off the Milford Road, south-east of the Homer Tunnel. Accommodation is available at Homer Hut – NZ Alpine Club.

Borland Road rock climbing area

Borland Road has an easily accessible rock climbing area commonly used by outdoor education groups.

Access is off Borland Road, around 5 km from Borland Lodge – Borland Lodge Adventure and Education Trust.

Freestone Hill

Freestone Hill is a rock climbing area near Manapouri – outside Fiordland National Park.

Permission from the landowners is required – Wendy and Cam McDonald.
Call: +64 3 249 6614

Helpful resources

Fiordland’s 10 marine reserves offer excellent scuba diving and snorkelling opportunities all round. You can see the famous black coral and other spectacular underwater life and scenery.

More about the 10 marine reserves.

You can dive or snorkel independently or with one of the tourism or charter boat services available. All marine life is protected in the marine reserves.

As the fiords are fragile environments, follow the diving care code for Fiordland.

The lakes and rivers of Fiordland offer excellent fishing for brown and rainbow trout.

Listed here are some of the popular areas to go fishing in Fiordland. You need permission to cross private land when crossing private land to access rivers.

Milford area

  • Milford Road – Eglinton River, Cleddau River
  • Milford Track – rivers and lakes, but note strict conditions for didymo controls in this area.

Hollyford area

Te Anau area

  • Lake Te Anau
  • Waiau River – access via Rainbow Reach, Balloon Loop, Queens Reach
  • Ettrick Burn – in the Murchison Mountains – fishing by ballot.

Manapouri area

Fishing competition

Every year in October or November the Te Anau fishing competition is held.

Fishing licences and regulations

Wherever you choose to go fishing, you need to have a fishing licence which you can get from:

Make sure you know the current fishing season dates, regulations and catch limits.

Fiordland offers fantastic areas for kayaking, including Doubtful Sound, Milford Sound and numerous lakes and rivers.

Lake Te Anau – lakeshore

Lake Te Anau is a great option for day kayaking or activities with the family. Link up with walks on the Kepler Track, such as Brod Bay.

Access is from the beach and lakefront.

Lake Te Anau – North Fiord (16 km)

This section of the lake can be very rough. There is good camping at the entrance to the fiord and at The Narrows further down, or stay at the Glaisnock Hut at the end of the fiord.

Access to the lake is from Te Anau Downs – 30 km north of Te Anau.

Lake Te Anau – Middle Fiord (20 km)

This section of the lake can be very rough, but also offers sheltered bays and islands, and the Junction Burn Hut in South West Arm. 

More experienced parties may enjoy the adventure of going to George Sound via a 45 min kayak portage from North West Arm to Lake Hankinson (difficult terrain), then a walk on the George Sound Route

No access or camping allowed in the Murchison Mountains including the southern side of Middle Fiord. This is because it's a special takahē area.

The best access to the lake is from Te Anau Downs – 30 km north of Te Anau.

Lake Te Anau – South Arm (22 km)

There are walking tracks to the Hidden Lakes and lookout point, a jetty at Mussel Cove.

No access or camping allowed in the Murchison Mountains including the southern side of Middle Fiord. This is because it's a special takahē area.

Lake Manapouri

Scenic, wild beauty with sheltered islands, beautiful beaches and good walking options accessible from shore.

Access to the water is at Pearl Harbour, Manapouri.

Places for sea kayaking

While challenging to access the sea around Fiordland, sea kayaking here is highly rewarding for the more skilled and adventurous. The most accessible areas are listed here, or you can go further afield by air or large boat transport.

Milford Sound (18 km)

Milford Sound is a very steep-sided fiord with striking beauty, but busy with boat traffic. The southern side is more sheltered from the prevailing westerly winds, in particular the afternoon day breeze during summer.

For camping there are two spots – Harrison Cove and Anita Bay. Access is by boat ramp off Deepwater Basin Road in Milford Sound.

Doubtful Sound (38 km)

Quiet, wild, isolated beauty. The southern side is more sheltered from the prevailing westerly winds. Numerous camp spots including Hall Arm.

Huts include Deas Cove Hut  (Thompson Sound) and The Gut Hut (Doubtful Sound). 

Access this fiord by crossing Lake Manapouri, travelling over Wilmot Pass to Deep Cove.

Places for river kayaking

  • Upper Waiau River – between lakes Te Anau and Manapouri
  • Hollyford River – access off Hollyford Road

Guided trips

Guided kayaking and kayak hire options – Destination Fiordland website

Safety and planning tips for kayaking

Safety is your responsibility. Make sure you have the skills and the correct equipment to safely do your chosen activity.

  • Fiordland weather can change at any time so be prepared for anything.
  • Be aware that the lakes and fiords are exposed, the wind usually strengthens in the afternoon and conditions can change at any time.
  • Fiordland rivers can rise and fall rapidly following rain or snow melt. Due to the huge catchments draining into the rivers, it doesn’t have to be raining where you plan to kayak to be at risk from flooding.
  • We recommend you carry a mountain radio for updated weather information and personal locator beacon for safety, especially on multi day trips. These can be hired in Te Anau.
  • Help keep invasive weeds such as oxygen weed (Lagarosiphon) and didymo out of the lakes and rivers.
  • Sandflies are prominent in all areas so we advise taking insect repellent.

Care code for kayaking.

Prevent the spread of freshwater pests

Help prevent the spread of didymo and other freshwater pests that threaten our waterways.

How to prevent the spread of freshwater pests such as didymo.

Check, Clean, Dry

Clean all gear when moving between waterways to prevent the spread of didymo and other freshwater pests.

How to check, clean, dry your gear.

Contacts

Te Rua-o-te-moko / Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre
Phone:   +64 3 249 7924
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Email:   fiordlandvc@doc.govt.nz
Address:   Fiordland National Park
Visitor Centre
Lakefront Drive
Te Anau 9600
Postal Address:   PO Box 29
Te Anau 9640
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