Sunset at Milford Sound
Sunset at Milford Sound

3 Days & 3 Nights in Fiordland

Good things come in threes. So here is a three-day itinerary featuring three ways to enjoy Fiordland by day and by night.

Dusky Sound helicopter
Richard Young

Things To Do

Fiordland is a natural playground. From providing some of the best walking tracks in the country - and even the world, to offering a plethora of scenic cruises and adventure activities, Fiordland is a dream destination and a must-do…

Day 1

Get out on the Water

To truly experience everything Te Rua-o-te-Moko Fiordland has to offer, we recommend spending a minimum of three days and three nights in the region. 

Day 1 is a water day. Fiordland is a landscape dominated by water, from the immense lakes to the incredible rainfall and abundant forest it sustains to the ancient glaciers whose powerful ice has shaped the landscape. 

There is an endless supply of water-based activities to enjoy in Te Anau, Manapouri, Patea Doubtful Sound or Piopiotahi Milford Sound. Cruise, kayak or dive in one of the fiords, pack raft or jet boat along the rivers, hire a paddleboard, cruise to the other side of Lake Te Anau, stand under a waterfall, and swim in the crystal-clear waters.

On your first night in town, dine out in one of Fiordland’s top-notch restaurants. Te Anau offers a wide range of options, and there are also options in Manapouri and at Milford Sound Lodge. Local delicacies include wild venison, fresh fish from the coast and Fiordland’s famous crayfish (lobster). Enjoy local produce, wines, craft beers and some friendly, southern service.

Day 2

Take to the Skies

Covering more than 12,607 square kilometres (4,868 square miles), Fiordland National Park is an immense impenetrable forest in most places. The only way to truly appreciate the scale of this dense wilderness is to fly high above it. 

Book a scenic flight by helicopter, fixed-wing plane or the South Island’s only floatplane. You will spot hidden lakes, glaciers, waterfalls, and so much more from high above. Scenic helicopter flights offer the option to land on a glacier, a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Flights are always weather-dependent, so ensure you check the weather and have a spare day on your itinerary if your flight is weather-affected.

This evening, visit the purpose-built for screening the locally filmed cinematic experience; Ata Whenua—Shadowland, Fiordland Cinema, is a Te Anau must-do. Catch a screening of this mesmerising cinematic odyssey filmed largely from a helicopter or Deer Wars, a half-hour documentary on the fascinating history of deer hunting and farming in Fiordland. The cinema also screens new releases served with local wine and gourmet snacks.

Day 3

Hike the Trails

Fiordland is known as the 'walking capital of the world' for a good reason. It is home to three of New Zealand's Great Walks and countless day walks ranging from gentle lakeside strolls to challenging alpine summits. The Department of Conservation (DOC) maintains the walking tracks around Fiordland, and visitors are often impressed with the standard of the trails and the far-flung areas the tracks access.

Spending time on a track immersed in beech forest, lush punga ferns, or high on a rocky ridgeline is essential to any Fiordland visit. So, get out there, muddy those boots, and immerse yourself in a World Heritage-listed rainforest. 

Tracks range in difficulty and distance, so you will find something to suit all ages and abilities. Check out our "Things to Do" section for more options and information on guided hikes, heli hikes, water taxis to tracks, and equipment hire.

Tonight, relax and go for an easy takeaway. Te Anau offers a great selection of pizza restaurants, fish and chips and more. If the weather is good, head down to Lake Te Anau or Lake Manapouri to watch the sunset, or head back to your room to enjoy an easy night.


Hike Fiordland cover
Lisa Nicole

Hike Fiordland

Base yourself in Te Anau and use the Hike Fiordland Passport to guide you to some of the best day walks, experiencing a taste of the Great Walks nearby. Stay a week and complete them all, or tick off a few more with each visit.