- Fiordland’s rugged west coast is indented by 12 fiords – also known as sounds – and two inlets leading to three more fiords, spanning 215km of coast.
- Some stretch 40km inland from the Tasman Sea. The fiords become wider and the mountains lower and less steep as you travel down from north to south.
- Milford Sound, the most northerly fiord, is the most famous and the only one accessible by road, rated one of the world’s finest drives.
Cruise ships tend to be dwarfed by the towering peaks of Milford Sound, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Oceania.
- Part of the vast Te Wāhipounamu World Heritage Site, Fiordland National Park is one of the world’s largest, covering 12,607 sq km.
- Known as ‘the walking capital of the world’, Fiordland National Park’s excellent tramping trails include three of our 10 Great Walks – Milford, Kepler and Routeburn tracks.
A view from the Routeburn Track.
- In Māori legend, Tu-te-raki-whanoa carved out the fiords with his adze Te Hamo. Māori came to collect food and the translucent greenstone, takiwai.
- James Cook and his crew were the first Europeans to visit (1770) and spent five weeks at Dusky Sound in 1773. Sealers and whalers, later miners, arrived in the late 1700s. These were the first pākehā settlements in Aotearoa.
- Much of the region is heavily forested with native trees and almost completely unspoilt. Underneath are shrubs and ferns with patches of bog.
- It’s home to threatened native birds such as takahē, kiwi, blue duck (whio) and yellowhead (mōhua).
- About 300 species are found only here, including the Fiordland skink, giant weta, egg-laying worms – and native sandflies. Seals, albatross, penguins and marine life abound.
A fur seal in the bush. Photograph: Ewan McDonald