We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The Tripadvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Three nights in the Te Anau area with a car

Sacramento...
Level Contributor
1,492 posts
135 reviews
104 helpful votes
Three nights in the Te Anau area with a car

We are spending three nights in the Te Anau area on our trip to New Zealand in March. We will drive there from Queenstown. (We will have 7-10 more days in Dunedin, Lake Tekapo, and Christchurch areas).

We would like to see Milford Sound; and Doubtful Sound (which cruise to choose? What part of the day?). Can you please recommend any other places to see there?

I'd appreciate any help. Photography and nature are our passion.

19 replies to this topic
New Zealand
Destination Expert
for South Island, Nelson-Tasman Region, New Zealand, Tonga
Level Contributor
24,529 posts
745 reviews
511 helpful votes
1. Re: Three nights in the Te Anau area with a car

i suggest you do a day cruise at milford sound and an overnight at doubtful sound. i like southern discoveries at milford as they are the only boat to go to the underwater observatory.

doubtful sound is huge and an overnight is by far the best way to experience this area.

Christchurch, New...
Destination Expert
for Christchurch, South Island, Akaroa
Level Contributor
51,378 posts
577 reviews
231 helpful votes
2. Re: Three nights in the Te Anau area with a car

You ask about "part of the day" - both Fiords are distant from Te Anau & require at minimum a full day to explore.

#1. Milford Sound by road is 2hr from Te Anau, but there are so many scenic stops that you basically need to allow 5 hr RT + 3 hr for the cruise + lunch etc. The tours take 8 hr in total.

#2. DS is even more complicated. First you travel by road to Manapouri where you board a boat to cross Lake Manapouri; then a bus over Wilmot Pass; then the cruise boat. The return journey is the same - bus then boat; then drive back to Te Anau (can you see why nzp0ppy suggested an overnight tour!

Sacramento...
Level Contributor
1,492 posts
135 reviews
104 helpful votes
3. Re: Three nights in the Te Anau area with a car

Thank you both!!!

Should we spend a night in Manapouri or should we go back to Te Anau?

Should we add a night in the Te Anau area (#4) to see something else? Or is there any other place in the Fiordland to stay?

New Zealand
Level Contributor
4,130 posts
6 reviews
2 helpful votes
4. Re: Three nights in the Te Anau area with a car

Manapouri and Te Anau are only 15 minutes drive apart so no point in shifting. Te Anau has far more facilities.

Are you interested in hikes? If so you can do sections of the Kepler Track and/or the Key Summit track off the Milford Road. If not there is not much point in adding an extra night.

The cruise from Te Anau to the Glow worm caves is well worth while. Also Punanga Manu o Te Anau/Te Anau Bird Sanctuary is free. Fiordland Cinema has daily exclusive screenings of Ata Whenua Shadowland which is good especially if weather is not the best.

Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
17 posts
5 reviews
2 helpful votes
5. Re: Three nights in the Te Anau area with a car

Hi we just returned from a 2.5 week tour of the South Island (our third time there as we like it so much!). We are into photography and nature as well. We spent 3 nights in Te Anau as well - check out the Gloworm caves they are wonderful (but you aren't allowed to take photos as it disturbs the worms). I highly recommend the overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound - we did it on our last trip and really enjoyed it. It allows you to enjoy the sound at times that are more conducive to photography.

See photos below:

http://www.stphotographics.com/2017/06/an-overnight-cruise-on-doubtful-sound-with-real-journeys/

The highlight would be early morning at Hall Arm at Doubtful Sound. Check out the photos to get a sense of it.

I gotta go take care of my kids now, but will post again when i have more time as we did spend a week around Dunedin / Tekapo and I do have some recommendations from a photographic perspective.

Sacramento...
Level Contributor
1,492 posts
135 reviews
104 helpful votes
6. Re: Three nights in the Te Anau area with a car

Thank you all!

I'll check the hikes. We might want to hike if there are at least moderate hikes.

Is it tough to drive to Milford Sound from Te Anau? I read that it wasn't recommended for tourists in the winter. March is still a good season. Right?

We will have some challenges not being used to driving on the left side. However, my husband has driven in England and Scotland.

We'd appreciate any input about photography.

Within one day, your help made me feel much more comfortable about the trip.

Thanks again!

California
Destination Expert
for New Zealand
Level Contributor
18,740 posts
71 reviews
33 helpful votes
7. Re: Three nights in the Te Anau area with a car

Their March is equivalent to our September. It's late summer, early autumn.

Sydney, Australia
Destination Expert
for Fiji, New Zealand, Tasmania
Level Contributor
28,060 posts
440 reviews
245 helpful votes
8. Re: Three nights in the Te Anau area with a car

I know you have a car but taking the bus from Te Anau to Milford Sound will allow you both to relax and take in the awesome scenery. Note the coaches stop at all the tourists spots on the way down too.

Sacramento...
Level Contributor
1,492 posts
135 reviews
104 helpful votes
9. Re: Three nights in the Te Anau area with a car

Thank you very much!

What company can you recommend for Milford Sound Cruise? What time is better? Morning, afternoon, or evening?

We are inclined to drive there ourselves and take it slow on the way there and back. We might still change our minds.

T.

New Zealand
Level Contributor
4,130 posts
6 reviews
2 helpful votes
10. Re: Three nights in the Te Anau area with a car

If self driving from Te Anau, most suggest go early, only stop at the Mirror Lakes on the way in and a comfort stop at Knobbs Flat and so beat the buses coming from Queenstown. Then take your time on the way back.

https://milfordsoundtourism.nz/themilfordroad

Especially note the info about parking at Milford So.und

https://www.milford-sound.co.nz/travel-info/highlights/

Reply to: Three nights in the Te Anau area with a car
Get notified by e-mail when a reply is posted
Get answers to your questions about Te Anau
© 2024 Tripadvisor LLC All rights reserved.

This is the version of our website addressed to speakers of English in New Zealand. If you are a resident of another country or region, please select the appropriate version of Tripadvisor for your country or region in the drop-down menu.