Nz u pass fiordland national park barton matthews 9 solo header
Bart nieuw zeeland fiordland national park
Nz fiordland national park dolphins barton matthews discoverpage detail nationalparks
Nz u pass fiordland national park barton matthews 9 solo header
Bart nieuw zeeland fiordland national park
Nz fiordland national park dolphins barton matthews discoverpage detail nationalparks
An untouched wilderness

Fiordland National Park

The Fiordland National Park is 1.2 million hectares of unparalleled natural paradise. Listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List because of its special geology, unique flora and fauna and immense, and in most places impenetrable forest. Kayak in Doubtful Sound to connect with nature and wilderness or spend the day hiking the world-famous Milford Track to enjoy its alpine scenery, clear rivers and dense rainforest.

Where should you visit Fiordland National Park?

A bay with mountains, blue skies and sunlight
Experience Milford Sound, described as the eighth Wonder of the World
© Graeme Murray
Clear water, dense green forest and mountains
Discover unique flora and fauna


According to the Māori legends, Fiordland National Park was formed by Demigod Tuterakiwhanoa, who is said to have carved the rugged landscape from formless rock. Known as Ata Whenua or Shadowland, Fiordland is a place of mystery. This sense of mystery is created by the structure of the landscape where light and shadow are formed from the valleys and soaring mountain peaks.

100 million years in the making

Around 100 million years ago, the glaciers began to shape a new landscape as they etched their way toward the sea. The natural changes to the landscape created beautiful fiords which is what we get to experience now.

Boat in a lake with towering mountain peaks in the background
Cruise the fiords to appreciate the sheer beauty
Aerial view of fiords and mountains
Experience New Zealand's unparalleled natural paradise

Why should you visit the New Zealand fiords?

Both New Zealand and Norway are renowned for their staggering fiords but each offers a completely different experience. In Norway, you will see the sheer length and breadth of the fiords which is breathtaking. While in New Zealand you will see dramatic landscapes but it feels like you have stepped into a whole other world. This is largely because New Zealand has geographically been isolated for so long that its flora and fauna are truly unique.

A boat cruising on calm waters in the fiords
Explore the dramatic landscapes of New Zealand's fiords
Discover beautiful forests | New Zealand nature
Immerse yourself in dense, untouched rainforests


Fiordland National Park is home to some of the country's best walks and stunning views, including the Milford, Kepler and Routeburn Tracks. On each hike, you will witness spectacular scenery as you walk through rainforests and cascading waterfalls.

Take a scenic drive

The road between Te Anau and Milford Sound is one you will want to do slowly. Stop along the way to soak up the stunning views and take your time adding to your collection of travel photography. Due to its proximity to Milford Sound, Te Anau is a great base for exploring Milford. The 118-kilometre scenic drive is a worthy item to tick off your bucket list.

Mountains peaks reflecting in clear water at sunset
Witness the changing hues of sunset over sky-scraping peaks
Clouds rolling over a mountain range with a lake in the foreground
Experience a mystical landscape in Te Anau

Off-the-beaten-track experiences

If you enjoy adventure and getting off the beaten track hop on board a jet boat and have fun as you make your way down the crystal-clear waters of the Waiau River to the breathtaking Lake Manapouri.

Discover a fascinating underwater world

Scuba diving in Milford Sound is like nowhere else in the world. As you descend into the dark freshwaters you will discover coral and fish species that would otherwise only be found in deep seawater.

A jet boat on turquoise water
Feel the thrill of a jet boat ride to Lake Manapouri

Things to do

New Zealand's Great Walks

Did you know Fiordland is home to three of New Zealand’s Great Walks? The Milford Track, The Kepler Track, and The Routeburn track can all be experienced in this incredible national park. If you choose to do a multi-day hike you will need to have a certain level of fitness. There is a network of huts, such as Clinton Huts and Mintaro Huts on the Milford Track, where you can stay overnight or you can also choose to bring a tent and camp in another area nearby the huts.

Travel tip: Book the huts well in advance as they get booked out very quickly.

Day Hikes

If you are short on time or if multi-day hiking isn't for you, there are many day hikes on offer. On shorter hikes such as Key Summit, Gertrude Saddle, and Luxmore Summit you will walk through spectacular landscapes and experience stunning views, and if you decide to stop at the beautiful Lake Marian, be warned that it is perhaps too cold for a swim.

A person in a red t-shirt and black shorts standing near a stream surrounded by mountains
Spend the day walking the spectacular Milford Track
© Barton Mathews
Two people walking on a path in a mountain surrounded by green shrubs
Hike Routeburn Track, one of the Great Walks of New Zealand
© Trips and Tramps | Miles Holden

Cruise the fiords

Cruising through the Fiordland National Park is a must-do activity as there is no better way to appreciate the sheer scale of the area than on the water. Relax and enjoy cruising the waters but don't forget to look up and be mesmerised by the sky-scraping peaks.

The landscape is other-worldly and has to be seen to be believed. A cruise in Milford Sound or Doubtful Sound will leave you feeling like you have traversed worlds and passed through an unforgettable mystical place.

Boat anchored in the fiord at sunset with a pink and purple sky
Enjoy a stunning sunset cruise through Doubtful Sound
Long fiord with towering mountains
Immerse yourself in New Zealand's natural paradise
© Pixabay | Makalu

Sightseeing flights

Experience a scenic flight over Fiordland National Park and discover the wild and untouched area that is made up of 14 Fiords from the sky. Flights depart from Te Anau or Milford Sound for a bird's-eye view of the magnificent waterfalls, lakes and forest.

A plane flying over the fiords and mountains peaks
Take a scenic flight over the fiords
A plane flying over lakes and mountainous terrain
Get a bird's eye view of Fiordland and surrounds

Kayak through the staggering fiords

Kayaking the fiord at sunrise is highly recommended. Be mesmerised by the pink and purple changing hues of the sky as the peaks of the fiords reflect in the still water around you. Paddling across the water in a sea kayak is an extraordinary experience for the fiords. Feel the mist of the waterfalls as they cascade down the forest-covered mountains and along the way, encounter wildlife such as penguins, seals and dolphins.

A man in a kayak in the fords with towering cliffs
Kayak the fiords for an unforgettable experience
Two seal playing with each other on the rocks
Spot seals playing on the rocks

Milford Sound

The 16-kilometres-long Milford Sound was described by Rudyard Kipling as the eighth Wonder of the World. A magical place, it is renowned for the towering Mitre Peak, and Stirling and Bowen falls, which plummet down its sides. We suggest staying overnight to experience feeling like you have the entire enchanting place to yourself. The feeling of seclusion in one of the wildest places on South Island is amazing.

Travel tip: There are no shops or WIFI in the area. You will find a cafe at Milford Sound Lodge.

The Fiordland has a network of over 500 kilometres of footpaths including the famous long-distance trails Kepler Track (65 kilometres), Milford Track (55 kilometres) and Routeburn Track (39 kilometres).

Four people on a hike in a lush green forest
Take a sunrise hike in lush green forests
© TravelEssence
Evening view of two chalets on the banks of a river surrounded by mountain
Savour cosy evenings listening to the gentle sounds of lapping water

Doubtful Sound

Sometimes called the 'Sound of Silence', at 421 metres and 40 kilometres long, Doubtful Sound is the deepest and second largest of New Zealand’s fiords.

Doubtful Sound has some spectacular waterfalls, especially during the wetter seasons when they are in full flow. The Browne Falls cascades at 619 metres and at Deep Cove, Helena Falls plummets 220 metres.

The local myth is that when Hine-nui-te-po (the goddess of the underworld) set eyes on the fiords, she deemed them too beautiful to be touched by man and released millions of sandflies to chase them away.

Travel tip: Be sure to pack your insect repellent because sandflies are legendary in the fiords.

Two kayaks with a mirror reflection in crystal clear water with mountains towering behind
Kayak in the mystical Doubtful Sound and spot unique wildlife
Low hanging clouds over cliffs with a mirror reflection in the lake
Witness the majesty and magic of nature in NZ
© Fiordland Tourism Holdings

Milford Track

Milford Track is one of New Zealand’s most famous walks. It begins at the head of Lake Te Anau and leads you across a mountain pass, suspension bridges, and boardwalks. Along the way, you will pass natural lakes, towering mountain peaks and stunning valleys. One of the best experiences is feeling the misty spray of Sutherland Falls (the tallest waterfall in New Zealand) on your face. If you have limited time you can choose to do a half-day tour with a guide where you will take a boat to the end of the track and walk part of it.

Don't let the weather deter you. Milford Track is just as amazing on a sunny day as it is when it rains. Part of the magic of the Milford Track is being there when it is raining and you have seen the waterfalls in full flow.

A waterfall cascading into green hued water below
Discover an abundance of waterfalls in NZ Fiordland National Park
Water gushing from a waterfall down a green cliff
Feels the misty breath of gushing waterfalls in Doubtful Sound

Experience the 'finest walk in the world'

The best time to do 'the finest walk in the world' is from late October to April. This is when you will have the longest daylight hours and clear views. From May to late October, it can be cold and wet, with ice and snow.

Two people sitting on a rock while hiking near water and mountainous forest
Relish postcard-perfect views of NZ nature
Two people with backpacks pointing to the route while on a hike in the mountain
Walk Milford track for breathtaking scenery

Best travel time

The Fiordland National Park weather is temperamental. In one day, you could experience all seasons. The weather changes quickly so it is always best to dress in layers and pack warm jackets and raincoats. With 200 days of rain on average a year, you will likely get a little wet. The best time to visit is after a lot of rainfall when the waterfalls are gushing down the mountains around you creating a beautiful and moving experience.

A man with a hat, black t-shirt and backpack standing on a rock overlooking a valley
Hike the Routeburn Track over three days with a local guide
Long wild green grass with a lake and mountains in the background
Experience tranquil moments at Lake Manapouri

How to get there

Fiordland National Park is on the South Island of New Zealand. The towns of Te Anau and Manapouri are recommended bases for exploring Fiordland National Park because there are several ways to access the park from them, including scenic flights, cruises, and boats.

Explore the Southern Scenic route

Fiordland is also part of the Southern Scenic tourist route which leaves Dunedin and loops through the south before returning to Queenstown. It's a road trip so spectacular that it will forever leave an imprint on your life.

Travel tip: The Milford Road is the only road from Te Anau to Milford Sound.

Front tip of the boat cruising through the fiord
Capture memorable moments in stunning scenery
Woman in a red beanie and black jacket on a boat cruise in the fiords
Sail the magical fiords in NZ

Where to stay?

Make your trip extra special by experiencing a unique stay from our large collection of hand-selected accommodations located in the Fiordland National Park and beyond. Your travel specialist will match you with accommodation that suits your wants and needs. A journey where your accommodation is an experience in itself.

Brown wooden lodge with mountains in the background
Rejuvenate in a lodge on the waters edge
Room with bed, chair, brown cupboard and lake views
Relax in a sun-soaked room with beautiful views

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