Te Anau is the most southerly of the South Island lake towns. It long felt like a poor cousin, despite it being the gateway to Milford Sound, and three Great Walks in Fiordland National Park – the Kepler Track, Milford Track and Routeburn, plus several other lesser-known hiking and tramping options,
But over the last few years, Te Anau has developed a more substantive personality of its own, with an attractive redesign of the town centre, a shared footpath and cycleway along the lakefront, and various tourism services that will take you to a range of different walking and cycling options around Fiordland and Southland. The rather obscure Ivon Wilson Recreation Reserve is a nice surprise – most towns in NZ would rave about such a beautiful and well established park.
The buses to Milford still arrive en masse around 8 in the morning, so go a bit earlier or later to a cafe and time your own drive on the Milford Road. In any event, the town now has plenty to do to justify a stay in its own right.