Best Day Hikes in Fiordland National Park

By Ziggy Dukes

4 minute read

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Fiordland National Park has called adventure seekers from all over the world for over 70 years since its establishment in 1952. Today it covers over 1.2 million hectares of some of New Zealand’s most beautiful and pristine wilderness and is home to some of the very best day hikes anywhere in the world. From towering snow-capped peaks to lush native beech forests, glistening lakes and rushing rivers, Fiordland is a hiking mecca with something for everyone no matter how big or small an adventure you’re seeking.

There are countless incredible day hikes to choose from in Fiordland National Park, but here are a few of our favourites:

Key Summit – 3-hour return

Starting at the Divide Carpark just off the Milford Highway you’ll follow the Routeburn Track – one of our 10 Great Walks – for about an hour before turning off to Key Summit. From this point, it's roughly a 20-30 minute climb to reach Key Summit before you can reap the rewards of your efforts and enjoy incredible panoramic views over the Humbolt and Darran mountains. It’s one of our favourite spots to visit in Fiordland on our New Zealand hiking adventures and the perfect example of Fiordland's diverse landscape, wide range of vegetation and thriving birdlife.

Enjoy the views at Key Summit

Enjoy the spectacular views from Key Summit.

Mirror Lakes – 10 minutes

For those seeking a shorter option to stretch their legs, Mirror Lakes is the perfect stop. Again accessible from the Milford Highway, this short jaunt along the boardwalk offers spectacular views across two small lakes to the Earl Mountains. On a still day, these lakes earn their name for their incredible mirror-like reflections of the towering peaks above.

Sample the spectacular views at Mirror Lakes.

Sample the spectacular views at Mirror Lakes.

Lake Marian – 3-hour return

To access this exceptional day hike turn off the Milford Highway onto the Hollyford Road and continue for roughly 1km before reaching the carpark. This road is mostly unsealed so be sure to take extra care if you’re driving yourself. From here follow the track across one of Fiordlands spectacular swing bridges and continue past cascading waterfalls on your way up to the lake itself. Lake Marian is arguably one of the most beautiful lakes in all of Fiordland, perfectly situated in a hanging valley surrounded by Fiordlands iconic mountain peaks.

Luxmore Hut to Te Anau – 4-5 hours

If you’re feeling a little more opulent a heli-hike on the Kepler Track is a great way to sample some of the best sections this track has to offer. From the landing pad at Luxmore Hut follow the Kepler Track back to Te Anau and enjoy the exceptional views over the Te Anau basin.

This unforgettable luxury excursion is included as part of our New Zealand Great Walk Adventure and is always a highlight for our guests.

Enjoying the views from Luxmore Hut

Enjoying the views from Luxmore Hut

Brod Bay to Te Anau – 3-4 hours

For a slightly shorter option that still explores some of our favourite sections of the Kepler Track hop in a water taxi from Te Anau and head for Brod Bay. From here it’s a pleasant walk along the lakeside, through ancient beech forest and via the local Bird Sanctuary back to Te Anau.

Rainbow Reach to Moturau Hut – 3-hour return

Wander through Fiordland's famous beech forest and across wetland boardwalks while you take in the stunning views. This section of the Kepler Track is accessed from the Rainbow Reach car park along the Manapouri – Te Anau highway. Cross the swing bridge from the car park where you’ll quickly join the Kepler Track as you wind your way along the river toward the stunning Lake Manapouri. For the movie buffs out there you may recognise your surroundings from various scenes in The Lord of the Rings which were filmed along the banks of the Waiau River.

Kepler Track bridge crossing

Wander the ancient beech forest of the Kepler Track.

On arrival at your destination, you’ll be greeted with stunning views as the landscape opens up before you and gives way to the vast waters of Lake Manapouri – it’s the perfect spot for a picnic lunch. We love this day hike so much that we’ve included it in several of our New Zealand hiking tours including our Masterpiece and Grand Explorer trips.

Explore Lake Manapouri

Soak up the views across Lake Manapouri.

Top Tips for Hiking in Fiordland National Park

  • Be prepared for all weather conditions. Fiordland is one of the wettest places in New Zealand, experiencing an average of 7m of rainfall per year. Several of Fiordlands best hikes also take you into alpine environments where conditions can change quickly. Make sure you’ve got adequate layers and a good waterproof jacket.
  • Make sure you’ve got the right footwear. Though most, if not all the trails in Fiordland National Park are exceptionally well maintained it’s still important to come prepared with the proper footwear. Make sure to break in your hiking boots before setting off and invest in some decent socks. Having comfortable feet makes all the difference.
  • Bring plenty of water and snacks. Remember these are wilderness areas so facilities are limited. There are water and toilet facilities at all the major huts on our Great Walks but it’s still important to come prepared.
  • Let someone know where you are going. This is especially important if you are hiking alone and you may want to consider taking a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) with you. These can be rented from various retailers across the country at minimal expense.

Fiordland National Park with New Zealand Trails

Here at New Zealand Trails, we’ve been sharing the best of New Zealand with our guests for over 25 years. We’ve taken thousands of guests into Fiordland National Park to share our favourite spots on our all-inclusive guided hiking tours and perfected our itineraries to provide the ultimate New Zealand experience. Let us take the stress of planning the perfect trip so all you have to do is sit back and enjoy the adventure. If you’d like to find out more about our New Zealand hiking and adventure tours get in touch or grab a copy of our free brochure – we’d love to chat!

Experience the best of Fiordland

Explore the very best of Fiordland National Park.

Explore Fiordland National Park

Fiordland National Park is one of New Zealand’s most beloved wilderness areas and an internationally recognized hub of adventure. Home to tumbling waterfalls, enchanting glacier-carved valleys, lush native forest and towering snow-capped peaks it’s a hiker's dream, and with so many incredible walks to choose from there’s something for everyone. So what do you reckon? Is Fiordland your next adventure?


Let’s talk – we’d love to hear what you think. Pop your details in below and have your say.

  • MmzHrrdb, USA September 2023


  • MmzHrrdb, USA September 2023


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