Milford Sound could easily be New Zealand’s most beautiful, if not most celebrated, natural attraction.
With its deep and mysterious waters and dramatic surrounding peaks, this fjord is also famous for its many moods.
The sheer cliffs and deep valleys of Milford Sound were formed hundreds of thousands of years ago by ancient glaciers. Today the fjord lies within Fiordland National Park, in the southwest of New Zealand’s South Island.
Facts at a glance:
- Milford Sound is actually a fjord, not a sound.
- Fiordland National Park is over 1.2 million hectares in size and was established in 1952.
- There is only one road in to Milford Sound and it’s Milford Road.
- Milford Sound is home to dolphins, fur seals, Little Blue penguins and Fiordland Crested penguins, which are one of the rarest penguins in the world.
- Black coral is normally only found in the depths of the ocean, but extraordinarily it survives here just 10 metres below the surface.
- Most common way to access the fjord is via boat and you can fly in.
- In New Zealand they spell fjord as ‘fiord’
And what about these moods? Well, first there’s sultry. While it doesn’t get very steamy, Milford Sound is recorded as one of the wettest places on earth and most rain falls in the summer months of December and January.
It rains on average 182 days a year and the mean annual rainfall is a whopping 6,813mm, but that’s a good thing. With the rain comes beautiful, cascading waterfalls and misty photo shoots.
Milford Sound is also mysterious. The ink-black waters give very little clue as to what lies below. Thick native vegetation around the fjord banks protects the region’s rare wildlife from prying photographers and this is definitely where you come to unplug, as links to the modern world are limited.
In an instant, as the mist clears or the wind picks up and penguins bob up for air, the mood of this natural beauty changes. It’s wild, dramatic and spectacular always. And no wonder any New Zealand experience is not complete without experiencing the draw of remarkable Milford Sound.
Photos: Mitre Peak rising from the Milford Sound in Fiordland national park, New Zealand. Source iStock.