Difficult to articulate, Fiordland is a place I am lucky to call home - it's a world-class destination New Zealanders should be extremely proud to have on our shores. The rawness, undeniable beauty, and wilderness values are off the scale - it's very special.
If you're spending a bit of time in Te Anau, here are my top picks.
Fiordland Cinema and Black Dog Bar
Boutique, award-winning and an absolute must-visit. The Fiordland Cinema, with just 52 luxurious seats, offers guests the chance to view films in comfort and style. Locals shout about the eye-wateringly beautiful film Ata -Whenua. The 32-minute spectacle provides an insight into the extremities of Fiordland. Its sheer beauty, diverse terrain, seasonal elements, human connection and unique flora and fauna are beautifully captured to provide an experience any visitor to Fiordland must see. Be sure to grab a pre-movie cocktail, local wine, beer or snack at the adjoining stylish Black Bog Bar.
Don't leave Te Anau before getting your hands on the best street food in Southland. Bao Now has seriously good kai. Essentially this is fusion food and it's creative, fresh and delicious. Whatever your dietary slant, there's a recipe to satisfy any hunger pang, put together by passionate, fun local faces. Look out for the funky food trailers in the heart of town.
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The Redcliff Cafe and Bar has a reputation for being the best restaurant in Te Anau for its award-winning food, fantastic vibe and friendly staff. Hallmarked by showcasing local food and wine, this charming cottage hosts a good time. Enjoy the garden bar with a game of petanque, or soak up a frequent live music session. Whether it's fine dining, a dance, or in between, there is something for everyone.
Lake 2 Lake Cycle Trail
There's an exciting movement in Te Anau that's worth keeping an eye out for. The local Fiordland Trails trust and cycling club are uniting to develop another great reason to stay in our cool town by scoping out mountain-biking opportunities.
In the meantime, we have a great asset getting plenty of attention - the Lake2Lake cycle trail. This starts from Te Anau DoC Visitor Centre, hugging the lake edge to the start of the Kepler Track and then winds its way down the Upper Waiau River towards Lake Manapōuri.
Two Wee Bookshops
The 20-minute drive (or the Lake2Lake cycle) to Manapōuri is worth its weight in gold. Here you will find Two Wee Bookshops; one of the smallest bookshops in the country with the biggest heart.
Passionate about literature, conservation and all things Fiordland, the delightful owner has a wealth of knowledge, and stocks rare, interesting and honestly priced books. You will suddenly wonder where your afternoon has gone.
Fiona Lee owns Wild Fiordland, which specialises in remote adventures in Fiordland.