Picturesque Te Anau is the main gateway to Milford Sound and three Great Walks: the Milford, Kepler and Routeburn Tracks. Far from being a humdrum stopover, Te Anau is stunning in its own right. The township borders Lake Te Anau, New Zealand's second-largest lake, whose glacier-gouged fiords spider into secluded forest on its western shore. To the east are the pastoral areas of central Southland, while west across Lake Te Anau lie the rugged mountains of Fiordland.
Te Anau is popular with fly-by sightseers and long-haul trampers alike. This has encouraged a sizeable accommodation scene and a decent array of places to eat. While Te Anau doesn't party nearly as hard as effervescent Queenstown, there are plenty of places to sink a few beers – which taste all the better after a long day of tramping, kayaking or driving the unforgettable Milford Hwy.