Lake Te Anau
Lake Te Anau, the largest lake on the South Island (344 sq.km), lies in the northeast of Fiordland National Park. With three arms branching off (South, Middle and North fiords), it reaches deep into the mountain country of the national park with its dense rain forests. The shores of the lake vary considerably in character; the east side is flat, with less rain, and is almost treeless.The surface of Lake Te Anau is around 200m above sea level, but the bottom of the lake, which is 417m deep, reaches well below sea level.Lake Te Anau is linked with Lake Manapouri and is thus an important element in the Manapouri hydroelectric scheme.
Te Ana Au Caves
In 1948 the unique glow-worm caves were rediscovered after much searching. The Te Ana Au Caves, which are accessible only from the lake, are, in geological terms, very young and have little in the way of stalactitic formations. To a visitor entering the caves through the low entrance passage after the half-hour crossing of the Lake Te Anau, however, they are still extraordinarily impressive. The boat travels into the cave as far as an underground waterfall, from which visitors are taken in another boat to the marvelous Glow-worm Cave. Glow-worms, the larvae of insects that can live only in conditions of fairly high humidity, produce long sticky threads like a spider's web to which other small insects are attracted by the faint light generated by the glow-worms during the digestive process. It is dark and quiet in the Glow-worm Cave, with the glow-worms twinkling like stars. The trip to the caves starts and finishes at the Te Anau landing stage; the caves can only be reached by boat.
Te Anau, New Zealand
At the southeast end of the lake is the tourist resort of Te Anau (pop. 3000), which has increased enormously in size in recent years. It offers a wide range of accommodation for visitors and is a good base for excursions in Fiordland National Park and the Southern Alps.
In 1948 a few specimens of the takahe, a flightless bird which was thought to be extinct, were rediscovered in the remote Murchison Range, on the west side of Lake Te Anau. They can also be seen in the wildlife park at Te Anau.
The Milford Road passes the enchanting Milford Lakes in which are mirrored the mountain peaks.