Te Anau township lies on the south-eastern shores of Lake Te Anau in
the South Island of New Zealand. . The town's population as
approximately 3000 people, with a wide range of activities, tours and
accommodation to cater for the locals and tourist that come to visit
during the summer months. Tourism and farming are the predominant
economic activities in the area. Lying as it does it borders with the
World Heritage Fiordland National Park, and at the gateway to a
wilderness area famed for the famous Milford and Doubtful Sounds ,and
the Milford Track all with their spectacular scenery
Lake Te Anau was originally named Te Ana-au, for 'The cave of swirling water'.
The lake covers an area of 344 km2, making it the second-largest lake in New Zealand and the largest in the South Island. The main body of the lake runs north-south, and is 65 km in length. Three large fiords form arms to the lake on its western flank - these are imaginatively named North Fiord, Middle Fiord and South Fiord. Several small islands lie in the entrance to Middle Fiord, which forks partway along its length into north-west and south-west arms. The lake lies at an altitude of 210 m, and since its maximum depth is 270 m much of its bed lies below sea level.
Several rivers feed the lake, of which the most important is the Eglinton River, which joins the lake from the north-east, opposite the entrance to North Fiord. The outflow, the Waiau River, flows south for several kilometres before entering lake Manapouri, with part of the water being used to produce electricity from the under ground Manapouri Power Station.
Most of Lakes Te Anau and Manapouri are within the boundaries of and the Fiordland National Park . The eastern side of both lakes are predominantly farm land, while the western side ( Fiordland National Park ) the land is mountainous, especially where the Kepler and Murchison Mountains rise 1400 m above the surface of the lake. Milford Sound with Mitre Peak, rises 1692 meters above the Sound.
Traversing the heart of New Zealand's wild fiord country, the Milford Track has long had the undisputed description as "the finest walk in the world", an opinion endorsed by thousands who have made the four day (three night) trip. Since Quintin MacKinnon pioneered the route in 1888, everyone from hardened walkers to novices sporting their first pair of boots 'have done the Milford'. On a sunny day there is a postcard shot around every corner, but only when it rains, and torrents of water cascade down the steep mountainsides, have you truly experienced the magic of Fiordland.
Several species of endangered birds live around the shores of Lake Te Anau, notably the kiwi and the notornis Takahe. The Takahe is a flightless bird native to New Zealand which belongs to the rail family. An area between the Middle and South Fiords is set aside as a sanctuary for these birds. A few of these endangered birds can be seen at a park on the outskirts of Te Anau township.