Situated on the south west coast of the South Island of New Zealand, Fiordland National Park offers unspoiled natural wonder. Rudyard Kipling once called the area known as Milford Sound “the Eighth Wonder of the Natural World.” The mountains and valley carved out by geologic forces over millions of years have left one of the most breathtaking landscapes on the planet for your enjoyment. The park was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990 as part of the larger landscape of Te Wahipounamu. Fiordland National Park is home to world-famous Milford Sound, as well as, Doubtful Sound (New Zealand’s deepest fjord). Some remarkable hiking is available with three of the “Great Walks,” the Milford Track, Kepler Track, Routeburn Track within Fiordland National Park.
Milford Sound or Piopiotahi (the Maori name) is a majestic natural wonder. Carved over millions of years by glaciers, it is technically not a sound at all, but a fjord. Enjoy a cruise through this steep valley with hundreds of waterfalls, unique marine life, and picturesque snow topped peaks through out the nine-mile-long sound. Although discovered by the Maori approximately 1,000 years ago and by Captain James Cook in 1770, Milford Sound has never had a permanent settlement, leaving the natural landscape pristine.
Sometimes called 'the Sound of Silence', there is a cloistered serenity within Doubtful Sound that contrasts with Milford Sound. The fjord is rich in flora and fauna, New Zealand Fur Seals and Fiordland Crested Penguins can be seen on many of the small islets at the entrance of the fjord. Doubtful Sound is home the southernmost colony of bottle-nose dolphins. The wide expanses and peaceful tranquility make for a true escape from everyday life.
For the more adventurous, the “Great Walks” will challenge you and enthrall you with the serene beauty of the landscape. Most tracks take from 2 to 4 days to complete though portions of them are doable in a day if you’re in a time crunch. Wildlife, beautiful vistas, and a connection to nature await you at the finish as I’m sure you will see.
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