Mirror Lakes

Fiordland & Southland

Fifty-eight kilometres north of Te Anau along the Milford Hwy are the Mirror Lakes, a popular stop on this world-renowned road trip. A five-minute stroll along the boardwalk takes you to a lookout where the Earl Mountains across the valley are reflected in glassy water, an apparition only interrupted by gloomy weather and occasional mallards.

The lakes area is also a good place to spot bird life, such as scaup, South Island kaka, pīwakawaka (fantails), ruru (morepork) and robins. Also keep an eye and ear out for the endangered mohua (yellowhead), with its colourful plumage and machine-gun-like chitter-chatter. There are around 5000 of these tiny insect-eating birds in the wild. Efforts are ongoing to bolster their population by introducing birds bred on predator-free island sanctuaries back into the valley. The bird features on New Zealand's 100-dollar bill.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Fiordland & Southland attractions

1. Lake Mistletoe

15.02 MILES

An easy 45-minute return walk leads through forest to Lake Mistletoe, a small glacier-formed lake.

2. Pop's View

15.87 MILES

If you can find a parking space, pause at Pop's View for a bird's-eye view over the forest-cloaked Hollyford Valley. It's 87km north of Te Anau along the…

3. Mavora Lakes Conservation Park

19.47 MILES

Within the Snowdon State Forest, this conservation park's huge golden meadows sit alongside two lakes – North and South Mavora – fringed by forest and…

4. Gunn's Camp Museum

19.55 MILES

Less a museum, more a cabin strung with antique agricultural tools and old moa bones, Gunn's Camp Museum is worth a peep into, if only to browse the…

5. Te Anau Glowworm Caves

22.71 MILES

Stare up at constellations of glowworms on an underground boat ride. First described in Māori stories, this 200m-long cave system was lost in time until…

6. Humboldt Falls

23.87 MILES

This 275m-high cascade is a worthwhile detour when driving the Milford Hwy. Reach the lookout point on an easy 1.2km hike through rainforest (30 minutes…

7. Milford Underwater Observatory

28.1 MILES

Run by Southern Discoveries, this small observatory is NZ's only floating underwater observatory, with displays on the unique natural environment of the…