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.