Te Anau Travel Guide

We enjoy a slow start, relaxing over a hearty farm breakfast washed down with aromatic, freshly brewed coffee. Bob reflects that after such a long time on the road it’s refreshing to stay in the same place for several days in a row.

Grant, our hosts’ son, who now runs Mt Prospect station with his wife Rachel and their daughter Ellie, joins us for his morning coffee. He says he grew up on the farm and after a career in the city for several years, was drawn back to station life. Like many growing up on isolated high country stations, he attended boarding school for much of his schooling.

Bob follows him over to the noisy, organised chaos of the shearing sheds to learn about the process, while I join Joan in the kitchen, and write down her Pavlova recipe. “The secret is fifteen minutes at 180 degrees Celsius before you roll it,” she confides.

An hour later Bob returns from the shearing shed having had an impromptu lesson. “It’s a lot harder than it looks,” he tells me.

We head into town where our first port of call is the Punanga Manu o Te Anau / Te Anau Bird Sanctuary to see its wonderful variety of native birds. After a light lunch at a local café we board a Real Journeys scenic cruise to the Te Anau Glow-worm Caves. We disembark at the wharf where beech trees grow down to the waterline and follow our guide, Heath Hollows, to Cavern House to watch an audio-visual presentation on how the caves were formed.

Heath leads us underground to explore a mysterious world of strange rock formations, fossils and gushing waterfalls, before ushering us aboard a small boat to float beneath a myriad of starry glow-worms.

After a short bush walk we return to Cavern House and look through its museum before cruising back to Te Anau, where Bob hunts for souvenirs at its small shopping centre.

Then we relax with a glass of wine at Te Anau’s modern cinema and sit back to enjoy Ata Whenua, a 32-minute scenic journey produced by local helicopter pilot, Kim Hollows. It gives a breathtaking taste of the Fiordland World Heritage Wilderness that most visitors would otherwise never see, and as we sit down for dinner at Te Anau’s acclaimed Redcliff Café, Bob’s still raving about it.

“It’s a visual feast!” he tells our waitress, and then he turns to me. “I hope the weather improves tomorrow,” he says, “I want to see as much as we can.”