The 10 Best Hikes in Fiordland National Park

mountains and cloudy blue sky reflected in a small lake in foreground

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The South Island's Fiordland National Park is a favorite among trampers (as hikers are called in New Zealand) because of the sheer wildness of the mountain and fiord scenery. There are many easy short walks and strenuous advanced walks, and a few intermediate options in the middle. Three of the Department of Conservation's ten "Great Walks" are within this national park, and while these routes are very popular (read: busy), they're highly worthwhile. If you're looking for something shorter or further off the beaten path, Fiordland delivers on these fronts, too. Check these top 10 walks out for inspiration.

Pro tip: Fiordland is famously wet, with very high annual rainfall. Prepare for wet weather at any time of year!

01 of 10

Lake Gunn Nature Walk

man standing on path through mossy forest

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Southland 9679, New Zealand

The short Lake Gunn Nature Walk is ideal for kids, wheelchair users, or travelers with other mobility issues, but even advanced hikers will enjoy an amble along this path. The well-kept path passes through a mossy beech forest full of forest birds, coming out at a stony beach beside Lake Gunn. There are great views of the mountains behind the lake. This trail is beside a popular campsite that's especially busy in the summer. This quick walk is a good option if you're short on time but want to see some beautiful Fiordland views.

  • Distance: 0.8 miles (1.4 kilometers), loop
  • Time Commitment: 45 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
02 of 10

Brasell Point Nature Walk

fiord landscape with water in foreground and cloudy sky

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Brasell Point Nature Walk, Southland 9679, New Zealand

Another easy stroll, the Brasell Point Nature Walk is in the Doubtful Sound area of Fiordland National Park. The walk starts at the Deep Cove Hostel and takes you through a podocarp forest to the Helena Falls lookout. Doubtful Sound itself is not straightforward to reach, so although this walk itself is easy, it's only really an option for travelers who make an effort to get out to this remote sound. You'll need to book a water taxi across Lake Manapouri and then get a shuttle to take you down to Doubtful Sound.

  • Distance: 0.4 miles (700 meters), return
  • Time Commitment: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: Easy
03 of 10

Milford Track

narrow path leading through a forest

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Milford Track, Southland 9679, New Zealand

The Milford Track is one of the most popular hikes in New Zealand, and is a Department of Conservation-administered Great Walk route, along with two other multi-day hikes in Fiordland National Park. Dramatic glacial valleys, ancient native forests, and some of the most beautiful waterfalls in New Zealand are among the drawcards. The huts and campsites along the way are of decent quality because this is a Great Walk. As with all Great Walks, book very early to get a spot.

  • Distance: 32 miles (53 kilometers), one way
  • Time Commitment: 4 days
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
04 of 10

Routeburn Track

grassy mountainous landscape with river in the foreground

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Spanning Fiordland National Park and Mount Aspiring National Park, the alpine Routeburn Track is another of New Zealand's Great Walks. In winter it's covered in snow and ice and should only be attempted by highly experienced mountaineers. However, it's more manageable in the summer. Enjoy views of mountains, waterfalls, tarns, and wildflower meadows. Accommodation is in huts and at campsites.

  • Distance: 20 miles (33 kilometers), one way
  • Time Commitment: 2-4 days
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10

Kepler Track

narrow path snaking along the ridgeline of grass-covered mountains

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Kepler Track, Southland, New Zealand

Another Great Walk, the Kepler Track passes through the park as well as the mountains and forests of the Lake Manapouri and Lake Te Anau areas east of Fiordland National Park's boundaries. Highlights of the walk are the waterfalls, the hidden Luxmore Caves, and the chance of seeing kea, an olive green bird that's the only species of alpine parrot in the world. Just take care of your belongings because keas are notoriously cheeky and can destroy your belongings just for fun. Note that the campsites on the Kepler Track are very basic so it's better to sleep in a hut.

  • Distance: 37 miles (60 kilometers), loop
  • Time Commitment: 3-4 days
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
06 of 10

Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track

hikers descending a boardwalk track toward a mountain hut with blue skies

 Anders Blomqvist / Getty Images

The Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track is a three-day walk starting on the southern coastline of Fiordland. Starting at a beach, it rises to the top of the Hump Ridge Range. A major highlight is the incredible views of Rakiura Stewart Island, off the southern coast of the South Island. Most Fiordland hikes are deeper inland or come out on the West Coast, so this track offers a rarer opportunity to see a particularly remote and under-visited part of the country. Accommodation is offered in two private backcountry lodges.

  • Distance: 38 miles (61 kilometers), loop
  • Time Commitment: 3 days
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
07 of 10

Hollyford Track

wide mountain valley with blue sky and river in foreground

Nigel Killeen / Getty Images

Hollyford Track, Southland 9679, New Zealand
Phone +64 3 442 3000

Because the Hollyford Track is at lower altitudes than some other hikes in Fiordland, it can be done year-round making it a good option for advanced hikers who don't necessarily need to hike in the summer. There are no alpine sections on this trail so snow and ice are rarely a problem. Hikers are treated to lush native forest, a gushing river, beautiful lakes, and the rugged majesty of the West Coast. The trail starts beneath the Darran Mountains in Fiordland and follows the Hollyford River to the West Coast, at Martins Bay. Even though this is a less popular track, the huts are of good quality.

  • Distance: 34 miles (56 kilometers), one way
  • Time Commitment: 4-5 days
  • Difficulty: Advanced
08 of 10

Dusky Track

sandy lake beach strewn with driftwood with lake and mountains in background

 typo-graphics / Getty Images

Southland 9691, New Zealand

Advanced hikers who want to get away from it all for longer than average may enjoy the remote Dusky Track. The trail runs between Lake Hauroko (the deepest in New Zealand!) and Lake Manapouri, crossing three major valley systems and two mountain ranges. The views over the whole Fiordland landscape are spectacular. It can be very muddy, with tree branches and some river crossings, so be well prepared.

  • Distance: 52 miles (84 kilometers), one way
  • Time Commitment: 8-10 days
  • Difficulty: Advanced
Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10

Falls Creek Route

Falls Creek Waterfall, Milford Sound, New Zealand
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Falls Creek Route, Southland 9679, New Zealand

It's not always a case of longer hikes being most difficult in Fiordland. The Falls Creek Route can be done in a few hours but it is one of the toughest options in Fiordland. The path is relentlessly uphill, flattening out after a couple of hours and then getting even more challenging. The views of Mount Ngatimamoe and Mount Pyramid will be worth it for expert hikers, though.

  • Distance: 13 miles (21 kilometers), return
  • Time Commitment: 4-8 hours
  • Difficulty: Expert
10 of 10

George Sound Route

forested mountain reflected in a still lake

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George Sound Route, Southland 9679, New Zealand

This exciting yet challenging hike connects Lake Hankinson, Lake Thomson, and Lake Katherine with Lake Te Anau on the inland side and George Sound on the coast. It crosses two valleys and rises to altitudes of around 3,000 feet. Accommodation along the way is in huts, but these don't need to be booked because this isn't a busy trail. You should plan your logistics carefully though, as this is a challenging hike only suited to experienced trekkers. It also requires transportation across Lake Te Anau to get to the starting point.

  • Distance: 10.5 miles (17 kilometers), one way
  • Time Commitment: 3-4 days
  • Difficulty: Expert
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The 10 Best Hikes in Fiordland National Park