Te Anau is a heavy hitter in the New Zealand travel scene, but there’s an often-overlooked small town just next door that you might want to check out. There are some fun things to do in Manapouri, including a great beach, a half-day walk above Lake Manapouri and the day trip to Doubtful Sound. Keep reading to find out all you need to know about Manapouri!
The long length of beach in front of town, known as Frasers Beach, is perfect for a stroll. You won’t be jostling with crowds, and the views on offer are stunning on a sunny day. There’s also a track (Frasers Beach Track) which takes you to some different sections of the beach, or you can drive down Frasers Beach Road and park up on quiet stretch of sand (and stones).
Pearl Harbour is where the boats to Lake Manapouri and Doubtful Sound leave from, but it’s worth a quick look even if you’re not on a tour. You can also catch a small boat across the Waiau River, where you’ll find some walking tracks, including the one below…
The Circle Track
If you’re looking for something active to do in Manapouri and you love good views, you’ll want to do the Circle Track. It starts off through a seemingly endless bit of forest before opening up to some amazing views of Lake Manapouri. You have to take a boat across the river, so it does take a little planning. Check out my post on the Circle Track for all the information.
Cruise Across Lake Manapouri
We did our cruise across Lake Manapouri as part of the Doubtful Sound tour, but there are options for just doing a boat trip on Lake Manapouri if that’s what you’re after (I highly recommend the Doubtful Sound trip though).
The cruise across Lake Manapouri is pretty special. It’s long been known as New Zealand’s most beautiful lake and you can kind of see why when cruising across it. The power station at the end is interesting to see too, and from there it’s a bus ride over Wilmot Pass and then onto Doubtful Sound (if you’re doing the Doubtful Sound tour obviously!).
You’ve probably heard of, or visited, Milford Sound by now. It’s one of the most iconic places in New Zealand, and deservedly so. Doubtful Sound is very similar. You’ll see the same unique scenery – waterfalls, hanging valleys, sheer mountains rising from the clear waters of the sound and lots of forest-clad cliffs.
Do you need to visit both Doubtful Sound and Milford Sound? Probably not, but I’d suggest at least looking into the Doubtful Sound day trip and see if it suits (and maybe just visit them both).
Several of New Zealand’s Great Walks are located in Fiordland National Park, and the Kepler Track is by far the easiest to access. You can do the whole thing in three days or get a taste of the track on a day walk. From the Manapouri side you could drive to Rainbow Reach and walk to Moturau Hut, which is on the shores of Lake Manapouri. The walk there is mostly through the forest, so don’t expect too many views along the way.
Another option is to walk along the shores of Lake Te Anau and then up to Luxmore Hut. This is a way harder day walk though, so be prepared!
Other Things to Do in Manapouri
Other things to do in Manapouri include fishing tours, jet boat trips and kayaking tours. You could also cycle or walk to Te Anau (or just drive). There are a few places to eat in Manapouri, but if you prefer a more vibrant town then Te Anau might be a better option to stay in.
Are you planning a trip to New Zealand? Check out our two-week South Island itinerary!