If you’re looking for the best trails in Fiordland, you’re in the right place. These are our favourite Te Anau walks.
Within easy reach of Queenstown and Wānaka, Te Anau has its own a special kind of magic. Though it is often considered the gateway to Milford Sound, it is so, so much more.
Many enjoy the seclusion of Doubtful Sound (the lesser known alternative to Milford), while others spend time checking out the countless activities and attractions in town.
With world-class natural scenery, including mountains, fiords, lakes and native forests, it is unsurprising that the region draws in a great deal of hikers too.
Join us as we share our favourite local walks, both in and near Te Anau.
We have intentionally included everything from short strolls to memorable multi-day tramps, so you can choose the most suitable trails for your level of fitness and timeframe.
Enjoy hitting the track in this mind-blowing part of Aotearoa!
Easy Te Anau Walks
1. Mirror Lakes Walk
Distance: 0.4 km (0.2 miles) out and back.
Estimated time: 5-10 minutes.
The Mirror Lakes Walk Trailhead is located about halfway between Te Anau and Milford Sound, so though it’s not technically in Te Anau, it’s well worth the trip.
It’s one of the shortest walks in this guide – in fact, it’s so short that it barely classifies as a walk – but it is spectacular.
Situated in Fiordland National Park, this trail offers stunning views of the Earl Mountains. If you visit on a clear day then you’ll often get to see the beautiful reflections of these mountains off the lake’s surface.
The trail begins from Milford Road and is accessible for wheelchair users too. However, you might need to park on the roadside to reach the route, although there’s a specified parking lane that makes access much easier.
2. Lake Mistletoe Track
Distance: 1.3 km (0.8 miles) out and back.
Estimated time: 45 minutes.
Te Anau and the wider area are home to endless viewpoints, but you don’t want to miss out on this one!
The Lake Mistletoe Track is one of the easiest walks in the region. It takes you through a forested area, before reaching the lake. From this viewpoint, you’ll get stunning views of Lake Mistletoe and the surrounding mountains. Not only that, but this lake is home to ducks, frogs and other wildlife so is great for the little ones.
You’ll find the trailhead across the road from the hotel complex at Te Anau Downs.
3. Lake Henry Loop Trail
Distance: 1.4 km (0.9 miles) loop.
Estimated time: 20-30 minutes.
If you’re looking for a quick and easy Te Anau walk then check out the Lake Henry Loop Trail.
As the name suggests, this is a circular trail that will take you around Lake Henry. It starts from the parking area and is one of the easiest hikes in Te Anau.
The route is easy to follow and offers scenic views of the lake. It’s also located right by Te Anau Bird Sanctuary if you want to take a detour – and we suggest you do. It’s one of the best things to do in Te Anau.
Although this isn’t one of the most popular trails in the area, it’s a great option if you’re looking for a quick stroll.
4. Lake Te Anau Waterfront Track
Distance: 9 km (5.6 miles) out and back.
Estimated time: 2-2.5 hours.
This is undoubtedly one of the best Te Anau walks if you’re looking to appreciate the area’s natural beauty.
Although it’s a relatively long walk, the hike is pretty easy with flat terrain, plenty of amenities and a gravel surface most of the way.
The Lake Te Anau Waterfront Track runs from Fiordland i-SITE Visitor Centre to where the Upukerora River runs into the lake. Along the way, you’ll get to wander along the shores of Lake Te Anau so make sure you bring your camera along.
Not only that, but the lakefront trail takes you past some of the town’s parks too.
Moderately Challenging Te Anau Walks
5. The Key Summit Track
Distance: 6.8 km (4.2 miles) out and back.
Estimated time: 3-3.5 hours
If you’re keen to take on one of most popular Te Anau walks then you can’t miss out on the Key Summit Track!
This trail follows along the Routeburn Track so is another section of a multi-day Great Walk hike. It’s a very well-maintained path that will take you through a lush green forest and past waterfalls.
It’s the views here that are really impressive though. Key Summit Track offers a panoramic vantage point over alpine lakes, the Humboldt and Darran mountains, and Fiordland National Park.
In addition, this area is also great for bird-watching so you might get to spot some of New Zealand’s native birdlife!
6. Manapouri Circle Track
Distance: 8.5 km (4.3 miles) loop.
Estimated time: 3-3.5 hours
The Manapouri Circle Track starts at Pearl Harbour, so you’ll need to catch a water taxi or boat over if you’re wanting to do this hike. This is because the trailhead is located over the Waiau River.
Keep in mind that you’ll need to pay for the transport too.
We recommend you hike this trail in a clockwise direction so that you finish along the lakeshore, rather than the other way around. This also means you’ll have a steeper climb at the start, and a more relaxed downhill section.
However, no matter which direction you choose you’ll be treated to fantastic views – especially from the highest viewpoint.
This is another trail that’s great for bird watching so keep your eyes peeled!
7. Brod Bay to Luxmore Hut
Distance: 15.4 km (9.6 miles) out and back.
Estimated time: 4-5 hours
This trail is a shorter section of the Kepler Track which is one of the most popular multi-day hikes in the area. The Kepler is also classified as one of New Zealand’s Great Walks.
As the name suggests, this route runs from Brod Bay (right by the campsite) to the iconic Luxmore Hut. However, there are plenty of opportunities to extend the hike before you return. If you keep walking for around 400m after the hut, then you’ll come to an awesome viewpoint.
The views along this trail will truly take your breath away, and if you’re lucky you might even get to spot kea!
The views don’t come without a trade off though; this trail has a fair bit of elevation gain.
If you’re not looking to do a multi-day hike but you’d still like to walk some of the Kepler Track then we’d definitely recommend this trail as a day hike.
Strenuous Te Anau Walks
8. Boyd Creek Track
Distance: 13 km (8 miles)
Estimated time: 5-7 hours
If you’re looking for a challenging Te Anau walk, the Boyd Creek Track is a fantastic option!
This trail starts from Milford Road where you’ll follow a shingle road for a short period of time before joining the Boyd Creek Tops Track. Then you’ll cut across bog pine and manuka scrub, so for this reason, it’s only recommended for experienced hikers.
It’s a challenging trail and people have had to turn back before due to the weather conditions and the bog. You’ll also need to take bug spray!
Not only that but make sure you take clothes that you’re not bothered about getting muddy…
But, if you’re up for a bit of a messy time, this walk is a whole heap of fun.
9. Lake Marian Track
Distance: 6.2 km (3.9 miles) return trip
Estimated time: 3 hours
If you’re looking for a relatively short but challenging hike then the Lake Marian Track may be for you!
Situated in Fiordland National Park (so a bit out of Te Anau, on the road to Milford), this trail starts from the Lake Marian car park. From there, you’ll cross over a swingbridge and wander past several waterfalls before ascending to the lake.
Although the trail is steep and muddy in places, you’ll be thoroughly rewarded once you reach the alpine lake as it’s located in a stunning hanging valley. If the weather is clear, you’ll get beautiful reflections off the water’s surface too.
All in all, we think this is one of the most beautiful walks in the area.
Multi-day Hikes near Te Anau
There are three Great Walks in and around Te Anau. With such stunning scenery, they are understandably popular, so you will need to be prepared if you plan to tramp them.
10. Kepler Track
Distance: 60 km (37.3 miles) loop.
Estimated time: 4 days/3 nights
There are plenty of multi-day walks that depart from Te Anau, but the Kepler Track is one of the most popular and it is the closest to town.
The best time to hike this trail is between October to April which is the ‘Great Walks’ season, but be sure to book your campsites and huts in advance.
The Kepler Track offers the best way to experience Fiordland National Park as it boasts alpine lakes, huge mountain ranges, cascading waterfalls, and glacier-carved valleys.
A great way to do the hike is to split it up into four days:
- Te Anau to Luxmore Hut
- Luxmore Hut to Iris Burn Hut
- Iris Burn Hut to Moturau Hut
- Moturau Hut to Rainbow Reach.
11. Routeburn Track
Distance: 32 km (19.8 miles) one-way.
Estimated time: 2-4 days.
The Routeburn Track is one of the most popular hiking trails in New Zealand. It is also considered one of the easiest Great Walks due to its shorter track.
Often referred to as the ‘ultimate alpine adventure’ this trail connects both Fiordland and Mount Aspiring National Park, so as you can imagine, the views are spectacular.
If you’ve got time for a multi-day hike, then the Routeburn Track may well be your first choice. However, it’s near impassable in winter so is only suitable if you’re heading to Te Anau during the summer.
There are three huts and two campsites along the route but you’ll need to book these in advance.
You will also need to decide if you start with walk from Milford, finishing in Glenorchy, or if you’d like to walk it the other way around – the choice is yours. Whatever you choose, you’ll need to arrange return transport (or be willing to talk it again in reverse).
12. Milford Track
Distance: 59.9 km ( 37 miles) one-way.
Estimated time: 4 days/3 nights.
The iconic Milford Track, which is located in Fiordland National Park (a short drive from Te Anau), is another fantastic multi-day Great Walk.
It’s New Zealand’s most famous tramp and for good reason! Along the way, you’ll get to marvel at the country’s tallest waterfall, stunning valleys, glistening rivers and glacier-carved fjords.
Camping isn’t allowed on this route so you’ll need to stay in the available cabins. However, these need to be booked well in advance during the Great Walks season.
It’s also important to note that there’s no vehicle access at the start of the trail. This means that transport needs to be booked in advance too.
As you can see there are plenty of fantastic walks in and around Te Anau!
Whether you’re looking for a relaxed stroll or a challenge, this area has something for everyone. Just make sure you don’t overestimate your fitness levels and capabilities, and that you’re well-prepared. Safety first!
Have you hiked any of these trails?
If you have, we’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below.