Lake Te Anau, South Island, New Zealand

Welcome to the ultimate guide to Lake Te Anau — things to do, where to stay, fun facts, history, stats and more. Let’s dive in!

Topics we cover in this article:

Looking for Lake Te Anau cabins or other accommodations? Save time and use this interactive map to find, compare and book at the best rates. Or explore our comprehensive list of favorite travel partners.

All About Lake Te Anau

Lake Te Anau, located in the southwestern corner of South Island in New Zealand, is situated with rolling hillside country on the eastern side and magnificent mountains with wilderness forests on the western side. Also stretching out from the western shores are three fiords (long, narrow inlets that were carved by glacial activity typically with steep sides) which resemble three arms called North Fiord, Middle Fiord, and South Fiord. Originally the lake was called Te Anau Maori which means the cave of swirling water.

Most of Lake Te Anau is within the boundaries of Fiordland National Park and the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Site. An early European explorer to the area once proclaimed that the area was “utterly useless except for mountaineers” and was never heavily populated which helps account for the pristine beauty still visible today. There are only two settlements on the lake’s shores – the town of Te Anau and a small farming village called Te Anau Downs.

Nestled on the edge of the lake, the town of Te Anau is the perfect base for you to enjoy all the fun and excitement that is uniquely Lake Te Anau. Here you can book scenic boat cruises, sightseeing flights on fixed wing planes, floatplanes or helicopters, scuba diving, four wheel ATV excursions, horseback riding, a guided tour to the Glow Worm Caves and a trip to an underwater observatory where you stand still and watch as the fish, corals, anemones and sponges carry on around you. Eating is an adventure as you visit local cafes and lakeside restaurants that specialize in local Fiordland dishes of venison and lobster to fish and chips. Accommodations and vacation rentals are abundant and range from bed and breakfasts, hostels, hotels, motels, and farm and home stays where visitors can truly appreciate a New Zealand experience.

Boasting an international reputation as the “walking capital of the world,” Lake Te Anau is the starting and stopping place for popular treks of the Milford, Routeburn, and Kepler Tracks. Known to New Zealanders as tramping, the extensive hiking trails wind throughout the Fiordland National Park offering dramatic landscapes along the trails. Tramping is a booming tourist industry which offers guided tracks of 1 day to 8 days which offer comfortable overnight accommodations and meals for those wishing to rest in comfort after a long day’s tramp but “backpackers” or camping sites along the trails are also available for those who wish to keep with the outdoors.

Summer months at Lake Te Anau, especially February, are crowded as locals come to the lake for boating, swimming, waterskiing, snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, and relaxing at the beach. The eastern shore offers numerous boat ramps and shoreline for easy access for fisherman to catch brown trout, rainbow trout, and salmon.

Lake Te Anau is located within the Fiordland Tourist Region of New Zealand which is also home to popular Milford Sound. In this area, visitors will be awed by stunning landscapes, sparkling waterfalls, amazing sea life as well as majestic alpine mountain peaks and pristine forestland. With many tourist attractions throughout the area, vacation rentals are plentiful and priced for any budget.

If you get the winter blues in February in your hemisphere, remember that it is sunny and summertime in New Zealand. So start packing and tramp on down to Lake Te Anau for an exciting and memorable trip

Things to Do at Lake Te Anau

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Snorkeling
  • Scuba Diving
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Waterfall
  • National Park

Fish Species Found at Lake Te Anau

  • Brown Trout
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Salmon
  • Trout

Find Places to Stay at Lake Te Anau

If you’re considering a Lake Te Anau lake house rental or hotel, we’ve made it super easy to find the best rates and compare vacation accommodations at a glance. Save time using this interactive map below.

Recommended Sites to Book a Lake Te Anau Vacation

If you want to take a deeper dive to find waterfront lake cabins, cottages, condos, hotels or resorts, check out our favorite Lake Te Anau lodging partners.

  • VRBO – Use VRBO to find the perfect lake rental home, condo, cabin, cottage or other vacation property.
  • – One of the world’s leading digital travel companies, connects travelers to everything from cozy B&Bs to luxury resorts.
  • Expedia – Expedia is a popular online travel agency with more than 140,000 lodging properties worldwide.
  • – With more than 325,000 hotels in 19,000-plus locations, is an industry leader in online accommodations.
  • TripAdvisor – Read traveler reviews and compare prices on hotels, vacation rentals and more at TripAdvisor.
  • Trivago – Trivago helps travelers compare deals for hotels and other accommodations from a variety of booking sites.
  • KAYAK – KAYAK scours hundreds of other travel websites at once to find the best deals on hotels and other travel-related services.
  • RVshare –RVshare connects travelers interested in renting a motorhome with owners who have RVs to rent.
  • CampSpot – Campspot offers premier RV resorts, family campgrounds, cabins and glamping options across North America.

Note: These are affiliate links so we may earn a small commission if you book through them. While there is no extra cost to you, it helps provide resources to keep our site running (thank you)! You can read our full disclosure policy here.

Lake Te Anau Statistics & Helpful Links


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