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

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!

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This post first appeared on Rachel On Route, please read the originial post: here

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


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