Look Closer and Discover Real Te Anau

Date: 8 November 2022

Get closer to Te Anau through its people, places and experiences.

Cloudy day on Lake Te Anau

As the gateway to the Fiordland National Park, Te Anau is the destination that brings you closer to a journey through nature.

Home to the glowworm caves, its unique scenery has a one-of-a-kind adventure to match. Whether you’re intending to visit the caves, or simply passing through the central town, read below to understand why you should take a moment to reflect on this important space.

Discovering More

“You won’t understand true darkness until you’ve been in a cave like that.” Says Dan, a Te Anau launch master and ex-cave guide. After a period of wet weather flooded the entrance of the commercial section to the Te Anau Glowworm Caves, he and the team were given permission to explore the higher, non-commercial section of the Te Anau Glowworm Caves. A section governed by DOC, who restricts its access to protect the threatened takahē there. “If you walk 45 minutes up the hill and through a canyon, you stumble across this huge hole in the ground,” he says, and recounts his amazement at dropping into a chamber so big, you could fit a Boeing in there. Looking back up at the entrance, seeing the lush dense forest encroaching against the gap in the sky is a scene from another world, before you crawl into a maze of tunnels deep inside. A cave guide sure has its perks.

A World of Secrets

Few realise the Te Anau Glowworm Caves are not located within the township. Rather, Te Anau is a gateway to Fiordland, that invites you to leap, sail, or fly into an adventure. So, travel by boat across the lake to the foot of the mysterious Murchison Mountains. A mountain range full of secrets, saw the year 1948 discover not only the 12,000 year-young cave network that we now explore to glimpse the bioluminescent insects but also the previously thought extinct takahē. Not extinct, only hiding, the takahē, also known as a flightless swamphen, are now protected, and treasured. Traps now guard the cave entrances against the takahē’s predators, with cave guides checking and resetting them at least eight times per year to help the Department of Conservation. These mountains can’t help leaving us wondering, what else could be out there?

Transformation Awaits

Though the purpose of your glowworm trip may be to discover the glowing galaxies, your adventure will awaken before you reach them. It comes when you travel between two worlds, as you shuffle through the entrance of the cave. Leaving behind an open native forest to enter a sculpted cavern of natural architecture, when you crawl into the cavern you feel the spirit of real wilderness set in. You feel how the discoverer of the caves felt, finding this treasure. Though the passage into the cave is part of the journey, not the destination, it is the experience that many guests reflect on as being their crescendo moment.