Gaze in awe at the world’s highest sea cliffs, which rise sheer out of the deep, silent waters of Milford Sound.
Fiordland National Park’s majesty and raw power is nowhere more evident than in Milford Sound, one of New Zealand’s most famous tourist destinations. This breathtakingly beautiful fiord was carved by an ancient glacier that extended out to sea, then later retreated 10,000 years ago and allowed the sea to flood in. Thirteen other fiords are spread along the coast. Some are 650 metres deep and penetrate 40 km inland.
This park is the most extensive wilderness area in New Zealand and one of the largest national parks in the world. It is part of the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Area. The park is a place of extremes. It has New Zealand’s highest rainfall, highest waterfall, highest cliffs, deepest lakes, and most shallow black corals (in Milford Sound). Don’t be put off by the rainfall statistics (7 metres each year). When it rains, the sheer cliffs come alive with hundreds of waterfalls cascading down into the fiords – an incredible sight.
The gateway to Fiordland is the town of Te Anau, which has an outstanding visitor centre. Here you can organise bus and boat cruises or aerial sightseeing throughout Fiordland, including Milford, Doubtful Sound and Lake Manapouri. You can also arrange hut and campsite bookings for the 500 km of walking tracks that criss-cross the park. The most famous tracks are; Milford, Routeburn, Greenstone-Caples, Hollyford, Kepler and Dusky. The Milford Track is a 54 km, 4 day tramp, which has been dubbed ‘The Finest Walk in the World’. It pays to book these tramps well in advance.
The diverse flora and fauna includes 700 plants found only in Fiordland, and a strange flightless moorhen called the takahe. The fiords are home to penguins, dolphins and New Zealand fur seals. Fiordland’s landscape of fiords, lakes, mountains, glaciers and forests is a living remnant of the ancient super-continent Gondwana.
Tread carefully as you wander this ancient mountain fastness, and enjoy it’s wilderness to the full.