Te Anau is a small town that has a local population of 3500. Like any other place in New Zealand its main industry is tourism. It is the closest town to Milford Sounds, that famous fiord, and therefore puts up a lot of tourists as they either pass through as part of a coach tour, or stay overnight on their way.
We opted to stay here for 2 nights. I love these sort places, and love to try and get to know a little about the town. This usually involves buying a local paper and reading it cover to cover. So once we had arrived in Te Anau, and walked along the lakefront, we grabbed a bite to eat whilst I read the newspaper.
There is not really much to this little town, a dozen or so eateries and the same amount of souvenir shops. It is worth a visit for its natural beauty tho. And for the one local attraction, the glow worms.
Te Anau is a maori name, but its origins had been lost in the ages. â€œTe Anau-auâ€, or cave of swirling pools was the most likely original place name. This led a local explorer in 1948 to begin a search for caves in the area that contained these swirling pools. After a few years of searching he found the cave entrance by swimming down an underwater spring on the mountain side, not knowing what he would find (What was he thinking). What he found were about 6 miles of underground caves, rivers, pools, and the cave ceiling speckled with the light of glow worms.
My lovely wife had been looking forward to this trip, and it really was special. Again, we were not allowed to take photos (The worms are shy apparently), so I cannot actually prove I saw them. However, I can say this. The â€œPirates of the Caribbeanâ€ ride in Disneyland has a faithful recreation of what a glow worm cave looks like, only without the singing.