New Zealand Backpacking – Te Anau and a day trip to Milford Sound

Spread the love

After a relaxing break in Queenstown, we had an early start on our trip down to Te Anau. I have no idea how one is supposed to pronounce that by the way. Anyone? Te Anau is the closest town to the Milford Sound (which was my main reason for going there to be honest) and known as the gateway to the Fiordland National Park.

Our bus trip was weirdly part of a Milford Sound tour, which can be done in a day from Queenstown. So it was jam packed (which was really unusual because up until then the buses had been quite quiet. Never more than half full!

The bus driver was nattering non stop the whole way (for the people on the tour.) But I found him to actually be a bit patronizing and rude. I’m glad we weren’t on that tour for the whole thing. I was more than happy to get off at the lovely little lake side town Te Anau, and be shot of him.

Te Anau Lakefront Backpackers

After we’d been dropped off we did our usual hunting down of our hostel,  dumped our stuff and hunted down the supermarket for some groceries. We stayed at Te Anau Lakefront Backpackers, and had a weird room away from the main building) in a big complex out the back. The place was seemingly empty! We had an odd room, it was a double with a shared kitchen, and was sort of on stilts, with a driveway going underneath us. Bit of an odd set up but it was quiet no one bothered us. My only complaint would be during the day it got VERY hot in our room.

Lake side walk

After shopping we spent the afternoon wandering North up the lake side of Te Anau’s shores. We whiled away the day chatting and enjoying the sunshine, on another glorious New Zealand day. Until we got tired and hungry enough that we turned around and went back to our cosy little hostel.

Te Anau New Zealand
Te Anau Lakeside, New Zealand

Te Anau New Zealand

Te Anau New Zealand

The smells or sounds of us cooking dinner roused a local, as we were quickly joined by this handsome chap. (See photo on the right.) He was the pudgiest and most greedy cat I have ever met. And somehow managed to get into our kitchen, and spent the entire time we were cooking begging for scraps. He was also exceptionally grumpy at the fact we weren’t giving him much food.

Throughout our stay he hung around outside our kitchen, and every meal time would come in and wind around my feed begging for food. Little bugger!

Milford Sound Eco Tour

The next day we made off on on our tour of the Milford Sound. I’ve written a post reviewing the Milford Sound Eco Tour which we took part in.

But as a general gist of the day – we were picked up in the early morning by the Milford Sound Eco Tour bus, which drove us up through the beautiful Fiordland National Park. (Which to me looked positively prehistoric!)

On the way we had a few stops – we pulled over briefly at the Falls Creek waterfall, which was a sweet little fall by the side of the road. Then just before we reached the Homer Tunnel we pulled over into a car park at Gertrud’es Valley. And were met by a gorgeous Kea! Kea’s are a variety of parrot, that are nationally endangered, and known for their intelligence and curiosity.

Te Anau New ZealandMilford Sound Cruise

Once through the tunnel and down the highway we made it to the Cruise terminal. We hopped on our early morning cruise boat, and settled in for the ride. We got a complimentary PitaPit wrap on board, and then gently cruised up the beautiful Sound.

The views on either side were spectacular, and there were baby seals basking in the water.

Towards the end of the sound it opens out into the Tasman Sea, and in this area it got a bit foggy and cloudy, and for a time we couldn’t really see much. But as we reached the mouth of the Sound we turned around and cruised back down the Sound again. Travelling in the opposite direction meant that the light lit up the water a really stunning blue green colour, and the clouds lifted.

After the boat ride we nipped back onto the bus, and took a more sedate ride through the Fiordland National Park. On the way back we stopped at a few places, such as Tutuko bridge, and walked across it as a group. Then we checked out The Chasm, and Monkey Creek and Pop’s View Lookout.

For more details and pictures check out my Milford Sound Eco Cruise Tour review post.


Te Anau Walk

Te Anau New Zealand
Kepler track, Te Anau New Zealand

The following day we had a full day in Te Anau, so we decided to do some walking. The town’s pretty small to be honest. So we had a little chat with the DoC visitor office, who gave us a little information about the walks in the region. There are a few Great Walks in the area. The Kepler, Routeburn and Milford tracks are all in the region, which take a few days to complete. But as we were a bit lacking in the time/equipment department, we opted for a shorter walk.

We decided to do the Lakefront walk, which took us South of the town and around to a water dam where the lake meets the Upukerora River. This was supposed to be the end of the walk, but we decided to do a little more. We crossed the dam, and walked a bit more. At this point we came across the Kepler Track – which as I mentioned before is one of the Great Walks. The full route takes about 4 days! So we decided to do a small section of the track, just down to Dock Bay, which is a cute little beach. In typical Rachel style I had a little paddle, and the water was absolutely freezing but it cooled me down from the hot walk.

Te Anau New Zealand

After Dock’s Bay we decided to turn back and head back into Te Anau. As we’d not expected to walk as far and for as long as we had we were low on energy as we hadn’t anticipated taking snacks or extra water, and it was a pretty hot day, (I covered up as I burn so easily, so I was doubly hot and bothered!) So we were pretty knackered by the end. Part way around we saw a bird sanctuary there which could be an interesting stop!

Last Day

On our last day we checked out early and headed out with all our stuff in tow, for coffee. We tried Sandfly, (what a name, those things are real pests!) Ian wasn’t overly enthused by the coffee. But I thought it was a sweet little stop though. We went for a last stroll down by the lake side and spent a little while sitting on the stones, reading and enjoying the sunshine.

Then it was back on to the bus – and shock horror we were back on tour buses again. We were heading back up to Queenstown. And for the first and only time, Ian and I had been scheduled to travel on different buses, so we had to say goodbye, and I spent a few hours listening to music and chilling out. That evening back in Queenstown, we headed back to the same backpackers we stayed in the first time. Just for the night as a layover, before heading up the West Coast towards Wanaka!


Spread the love

23 thoughts to “New Zealand Backpacking – Te Anau and a day trip to Milford Sound”

  1. It is a shame that you found the driver to be a bit patronizing and rude but at least you enjoyed the rest of the trip. I have to say that the Te Anau Lakeside, New Zealand walk is breathtaking and it looks like somewhere where you could truly escape from the business of real life.

  2. Oh wow! New Zealand, one of my dream nature getaway. I always thought about Lord of the rings when I heard or read about this amazing place. Their forest, mountain and boy of water are so fresh. Not exploited nor artificially build. Thanks for the great pictures.

    1. Haha we should rename you as the cat whisperer, I also tend to befriend animals abroad as well! Yes she has taken wonderful photos of New Zealand hasn’t she?

  3. I can’t wait to see Milford Sound, last time in NZ i didn’t have the chance but would love to go back for that. The idea of a cruise looks really nice and a relaxed option to visit!

  4. New Zealand is such a naturally beautiful country and I can’t wait to one day explore its topography. Shame you didn’t have the equipment for a longer hike at te anau because it seems like it would have been quite the adventure!

  5. Never been to New Zealand physically, but on photos, I’ve been there too much. I agree that it is absolute beautiful topography, hope to be there one day and visit all where you have.

  6. I really really want to go to New Zealand! We have been saving for various trips (first will be Iceland) and New Zealand is one of them!

  7. The place looks so beautiful. Definitely a great choice to relax & spend some time with family. It’s been a while that I went on trip with my family, reading your views I feel New Zealand should be on my list 🙂 Glad you had amazing time despite of few odd experiences.

  8. I’ve always wanted to visit NZ, it looks just so stunning!
    And I also always make friends with animals, when I was in Amsterdam I almost didn’t want to go out because our hosts had a baby kitten who was SO cute!

  9. What a lovely place! It reminds me of a lake not so far from my home-city where we used to go all the time when I was younger along with the whole family and play to our heart’s content, I miss those days.

  10. Such a lovely place you guys visited.. sorry to hear about that driver though. This is also by far my favorite place thinking about how many photoshoots I could do there… <3

  11. Truly a lovely place! An adventure, relaxation and way to appreciate nature in one.. For now all I have is story and movie about New Zealand. But one day I’m gonna share my own experience in this amazing place too.

  12. A trip to Milford Sound sounds like such a lovely way to spend a day. The scenery was picturesque with the beautiful blue skies and mountains in the background. Like you, I’m always up for a great walking trail. And I can’t believe the kitty cat! I’m telling you, he knows a great cook when he sees one! x

  13. In my bucket list . The greenery , mountain and valley look so amazing . I will consider to do a lake side walk first tan others . I always love to spend a long time by the lake side , its so relaxing and romantic moment .

  14. Te Anau looks so amazing and reminds me so much of the Lake District where I currently live in. With the goods and the bads, you created memories. And I am so jealous as I wish to visit New Zealand. ♥

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *