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fiordland, wanaka & mt cook regional information | back to regions & attractions
For some suggested itineraries that include one, or all of these regions, please click here.
Fiordland is located on the south-west coast of the South Island of New Zealand. As one of the most dramatic and beautiful parts of New Zealand, Fiordland has achieved World Heritage status and is often called the Sightseeing and Walking Capital of the world. With waterfalls tumbling hundreds of metres into sheer-sided fiords, shimmering lakes and harsh granite peaks leading to deep forests, its obvious why this was the main location for the movie triology Lord of the Rings.
The best base for exploring the Fiordland region is the attractive resort town of Te Anau. From here it is an easy two hours drive to Milford Sound and twenty minutes drive to Lake Manapouri and the start of a Doubtful Sound excursion. The road to Milford Sound is considered to be one of the world's finest alpine drives. Famous walking trails in the region include the Milford, Kepler, Hollyford and Routeburn Tracks. In most cases you can head off on your own, and guides are available for some tracks.
Wanaka is located on the southern shores of Lake Wanaka, in west Otago. Embraced by the Southern Alps, Wanaka is Otago's second resort town after Queenstown.
The crystal-clear waters of Lake Wanaka reflect the snow-capped peaks of Mount Aspiring National Park. The township of Wanaka is a magnet for visitors who want to find the perfect combination of outdoor adventure and indoor luxury. There are comfortable places to stay, great shops and eateries.
The seasons are particularly noticeable in Wanaka. Spring (October - December) brings an abundance of blossom. Summer brings cloudless, hot, sunny days (January - March). Autumn brings splendid colours of gold and red (April - June), Winter brings crisp days, and snow lovers can enjoy huge freedom the mountain slopes (July - September).
The Southern Alps form the spine of the South Island, and at 3753m Mount Cook (its Maori name is Aoraki, meaning Cloud Piercer) is New Zealand's highest mountain. It towers above a splendid cast of massive snow-clad peaks that make up the Mount Cook National Park. Nudging one side of Mount Cook is the mighty Tasman Glacier, a 30km giant and one of the longest outside the Himalayas.
Mount Cook village is an easy five hour drive from Christchurch. On the way you will see vast open spaces and golden, tussock-covered hills rolling towards the towering Southern Alps, and pass turquoise glacial lakes such as Lake Tekapo. The Church of the Good Shepherd sits on its shores and has a spectacular and famous view of the Southern Alps framed by its altar window. There is plenty to do in Mount Cook Village and surrounding areas - from glacier skiing in the winter to hiking and fishing in the summer.
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