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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 Region Mapfiordland

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.

top attractions

  • The WandererTake a spectacular scenic flight over Fiordland National Park. View crystal clear lakes, glacier carved fiords and endless snow clad mountains
  • Cruise around Milford, Doubtful, Dusky or Breaksea Sounds. The pristine forest, sheer rock walls and tumbling waterfalls are a breathtaking sight. Local inhabitants include bottlenose dolphins, New Zealand fur seals and Fiordland crested penguins.
  • Sea and lake kayaking is an active way to explore Fiordland in a small, personalised group.
  • You can also cruise or sail picturesque Lakes Te Anau and Manapouri
  • Take the two and a half hour trip to Te Anau Caves and glow-worm grotto on the edge of Lake Te Anau.
  • It's easy to arrange a day walk on either the Milford, Kepler or Routeburn Tracks.


Wanaka Region MapWanaka 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).

top attractions

  • Wanaka VineyardSee a collection of flyable World War II fighter aircraft at the New Zealand Fighter Pilots Museum
  • Flight seeing operators are always keen to show off their playground in Milford Sound, Mount Cook and Mount Aspiring.
  • Get a guide to take you fly-fishing on the lakes, rivers and streams in the area. The region offers superb brown and rainbow trout fishing
  • Lake Wanaka is a playground for sailors, water-skiers, kayakers and wind surfers
  • Go white water sledging or canyoning on the rivers
  • Saddle up with a horse trek and venture into the wilderness
  • The ski fields of Cardrona and Treble Cone are brilliantly equipped and offer a mix of terrain for skiers and snowboards of all abilities

Mount Cook Region Mapmt cook

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.

top attractions

  • Mount CookTake a scenic flight over the peaks and glaciers.
  • If you're a confident skier, take the 10km run down the Tasman Glacier.
  • Or go for the ultimate - heli-skiing the surrounding peaks!
  • For the more leisurely inclined there are many scenic walks for all levels of fitness.
  • Nearby Mount Sefton, while not as tall, has magnificent waterfalls.
  • Visit the postcard-perfect Church of the Good Shepherd on the shores of Lake Tekapo - its altar window frames an amazing view of the Southern Alps
  • Mountain biking and heli-biking are highly recommended for fit travellers
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