Fiordland Great Day Walks
Nestled amongst the vastness of Fiordland National Park are numerous day walks perfect for those wanting to explore the region without overnight hut stays. Whether you’re short on time, hiking with young ones, or missed out on Great Walk tickets, these nine Te Anau day hikes and Queenstown day hikes are among our favourites to experience the best of Fiordland’s Great Outdoors.
Fiordland Great Walks in a Day
10K Around the Bay, Kepler Track
One of the best Te Anau day hikes, soak up the lakeside views and enjoy a taste of the Kepler Great Walk on this easy, mostly flat track around the bay. From the lakefront, jump aboard the Kepler Water Taxi whisking you across Lake Te Anau to begin your walk at Brod Bay. Pack your togs and sandfly repellent and relish in the beauty of this lakeside beach before walking back to Te Anau at your own pace. You will spend 5kms on the Kepler Track and 5km on the Lake2Lake Cycle Trail, including passing through the Te Anau Bird Park. The total track is just over 10km, taking around 2 ½ hours of easy-going walking. Book here for this popular Te Anau day hike.
Top tip - You can also walk this in reverse, start walking from Te Anau Township and meet the Kepler Water Taxi at Brod Bay at 4.30pm.
Luxmore Hut or Luxmore Summit, Kepler Track
If you’re after elevation, you can head up the winding track from Brod Bay to Luxmore Hut, one of the Kepler Great Walk huts. It’s a challenging climb up through the lively beech forest, but the rewarding views are worth the workout on legs. Once above the bush line, enjoy the incredible sweeping views of Te Anau Basin. Want to go higher? Continue from the hut to Mount Luxmore Summit (1472m), the highest point of the Kepler Track and the best spot to take in the immenseness of Fiordland National Park. Book here for this challenging yet rewarding Te Anau day hike.
Top tip - Hop on the water taxi to Brod Bay and return to make this day walk easier to do in a day and knock off 12kms from the Kepler Car Park.
Milford Track, Te Anau
Day walkers can experience the world-renowned Milford Track starting from Te Anau. Pre-book a water taxi from Te Anau Downs and head up the lake on a scenic 1 hour boat ride to Glade Wharf. From there, enjoy the luscious forest leading to Clinton Hut, an easy 5 km walk along the Clinton River to enjoy your packed lunch. Pack your swimmers and take a dip in the gin clear Clinton River. Return the same way and catch the boat back to Te Anau Downs. Book here ahead of time as there are limited spots available on this Te Anau day hike.
Milford Track, Milford Sound
For those heading to Milford Sound, recommended for every visitor to Aotearoa, there is another great chance to experience part of the Milford Track Great Walk. Like the start of the track, the end also requires a boat ride. From the shores of the sound, cruise across Deepwater Basin to Sandfly Point, just a 10-minute journey that is an experience in itself. From the dock, head onto the Milford Track towards Giant Gate Falls. The return 11 km track to the falls and back is a gentle trail, great for all ages, that winds through the ancient forest, along rivers, passed lakes and wetlands, with a finish at the impressively mighty Giant Gate Falls, the most accessible waterfall in Milford Sound. Book here to explore more of Milford Sound
Key Summit, Routeburn Track
Enjoy a part of the Routeburn Track with a day walk up to Key Summit. Starting from The Divide on the road to Milford Sound, this track slowly winds up into the dense rainforest giving vast views of the surrounding mountainous region. Stroll past waterfalls and friendly trampers on this 3.4km one-way day walk. As you get closer to the summit, you’ll find yourself on boardwalks with uninterrupted vistas over the Humboldt and Darran Mountains. Peer into Lake Marian from the summit and enjoy exploring the alpine tarns. The track takes roughly three hours return, but give yourself more time to enjoy the incredible scenery. Book here if you require bus transport from Te Anau to the Divide.
Top tip - *You can also add this side walk to your multi-night Routeburn Great Walk
Earland Falls, Routeburn Track
We are suckers for waterfalls, and with an average of seven metres of rainfall per year in Fiordland National Park, this is the place to marvel at Mother Nature’s power. At 174m high, Earland Falls is an impressive waterfall. It’s a 7.5km walk from the Divide car park, following the Routeburn Track to Lake Howden. From there, follow signs to Mackenzie Hut into the Hollyford Valley to find Earland Falls. Plan for a longer day, giving yourself time to let the views sink in and enjoy your lunch basking in the sunshine on the flat rocks before returning. Book here if you require bus transport from Te Anau to the Divide.
Routeburn Shelter to Routeburn Flats Hut or Routeburn Falls Hut Routeburn Track
Jumping across to the other end of Routeburn in Mount Aspiring National Park is the opportunity for another Great Day walk. Drive to Routeburn Shelter, 60 mins from Queenstown, to start your day walk. The trail is 7.5km to the first hut, Routeburn Flats. Listen to the native bird calls as you weave through the beech forest on this mostly flat track to arrive at the Routeburn Valley floor. It’s a great view from here but if you have time, continue onto Routeburn Falls hut, another 2.3km for a higher perspective. It’s a steeper climb, but once at the top, you’ll enjoy a birds-eye view across the valley and amongst the Humboldt Mountains. Book here if you require bus transport from Queenstown to the Routeburn Shelter.
Not part of a Great Walk but a day walk that should be on everybody’s bucket list is the track to Lake Marian. This trail is less maintained and includes root climbing and a decent amount of elevation. It’s often muddy, and it’s easy to stray from the track. Make sure to follow the handy orange triangular markers. From the Hollyford Road turn-off, you’ll find the trailhead that takes you across a swing bridge and along a raging river with multiple waterfalls. From this point, rely on the orange markers to lead the way and watch your step. Arriving at this glacial lake is an experience in itself – a true paradise for any outdoor lover and photographer.
With each of these walks, give yourself plenty of extra time to enjoy the scenery, and always pack and prepare with enough water, food, layers, and insect repellent, of course.