Te Anau

Te Anau is a town in the Southland region of the South Island of New Zealand. In Maori, Te-Anau means the Place of the Swirling Waters.[2] It is on the eastern shore of Lake Te Anau in Fiordland. Te Anau is 155 kilometres north of Invercargill and 171 kilometres to the southwest of Queenstown (via state highway 6). Manapouri lies 21 kilometres to the south. Te Anau lies at the southern end of the Milford Road, (State Highway 94) 117 kilometres to the south of Milford Sound.

Te Anau
Coordinates: 45°25′S 167°43′E
CountryNew Zealand
Territorial authoritySouthland District
  Total5.57 km2 (2.15 sq mi)
 (June 2020)[1]
  Density530/km2 (1,400/sq mi)
Area code(s)03


The first Europeans (C.J. Nairn and W.J. Stephen) to visit the lake were led by Maori guides visited in 1852. The lake was formally surveyed first in 1863.[3] The township was surveyed in 1893. This was soon after the Milford Track opened. The town only really started to grow after the opening of the Homer Tunnel and road route to Milford in 1953.[4]


The 2013 census recorded the town's population as 1,911.[5] This had increased to 2538 in the 2018 census. The median age was 39.4 years. There were 1038 occupied private dwellings, 573 unoccupied private dwellings and a further 54 occupied non private dwellings in Te Anau.[6]


Tourism and farming are the predominant economic activities in the area. Lying as it does at the borders of Fiordland National Park, it is the gateway to a wilderness area famed for tramping and spectacular scenery. Many tourists come to Te Anau to visit the famous nearby fiords Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound. The town is also used as a base for those undertaking the Milford Track and the Kepler Track, the latter being a 4-day loop from Te Anau. Visitors to the area also partake in activities such as kayaking, cycling, jet boat riding, fishing and hunting, farm tours and seaplane/helicopter sightseeing. In 2014, readers of New Zealand's Wilderness magazine voted Te Anau as the best location in New Zealand for tramping (hiking) opportunities.[7] The town has a wide range of accommodation, with over 4,000 beds available in summer.[8]


Lake Te Anau is the largest lake in the South Island and within New Zealand second only to Lake Taupo. Rising on the west side of Lake Te Anau, the Kepler and Murchison mountain ranges are evident from most of Te Anau. Many species of bird life are also found locally, notably the endangered Takahe which can be found at the Fiordland Wildlife Park. The Department of Conservation office in Te Anau is active in protecting endangered native birds[9]


Te Anau hosts the Kepler Challenge in early December each year.

A local attraction is the Te Ana-au Caves across Lake Te Anau from the town. The caves include an underground glowworm grotto, which can be viewed from a punt during daily guided tours.[10]


Te Anau has two schools; Fiordland College and Te Anau Primary school.


  1. "Population estimate tables - NZ.Stat". Statistics New Zealand. Retrieved 22 October 2020.
  2. "Community History - Te Anau and Manapouri". www.teanau.net.nz. Retrieved 4 April 2021.
  3. "Lake Te Anau | lake, New Zealand". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 4 April 2021.
  4. "Te Anau | NZHistory, New Zealand history online". nzhistory.govt.nz. Retrieved 4 April 2021.
  5. 2013 Census QuickStats about a place  : Te Anau
  6. "2018 Census place summaries | Stats NZ". www.stats.govt.nz. Retrieved 29 March 2021.
  7. Southland District Council News
  8. "Te Anau". New Zealand on the Web Limited. Retrieved 1 May 2013.
  9. Southland Times
  10. "Te Anau Glow Worm Caves".