Milford Sound - New Zealand
One of the key attractions of the renowned Fiordland National Park on New Zealand’s south island, Milford Sound is one of the most striking landscapes in the world. Carved by glaciers during the ice age, the fjord is encircled by dramatically rising cliffs that shoot up vertically from the deep navy waters. The sheer rock faces often rise above 1,200 metres on either side, and are peppered with forest which clings perilously onto the vertical sides. The most impressive peaks are ‘The Elephant’ and ‘The Lion’ which closely resemble their namesakes, as well as the mighty 1,692 metre high ‘Mitre Peak’ which towers imperviously over the landscape. Milford Sound’s cliffs are the perfect spot for waterfalls, with Lady Bowen Falls and Stirling Falls plunging dramatically into the bay all year round. Several other temporary waterfalls form after heavy rainfall, which is often a feature of the Sound, which add to the natural wonder of the bay. The best way to see the waterfalls and the mountains is to take to the water, either on a cruise or by sea kayak.
Where is it?
The fjord is found in the south-west of New Zealand's South Island. It lies within the Fiordland National Park, as well as the Piopiotahi (Milford Sound) Marine Reserve and the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage site.
What is it?
Milford Sound is best known for its huge mountains and for the sheerness of their drop into the ocean below. Formed during the Ice Age, it is now one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world thanks to its dramatic scenery.
Best time to visit?
Visit in the autumn in March or April to avoid the huge flocks of tourists which swarm there in the height of the summer. Prepare for rain though, as Milford Sound is remarkably wet all year round!
Visit the Milford Discovery Centre, a fascinating Deep Underwater Observatory. The five story building is largely submerged underwater, giving visitors a chance to see various corals up close. These include black coral, which is usually only found in much deeper waters, as well as fascinating tube anemones and sea perch.