Fiordland National Park – Land of unbelievable wonders

Posted in Australia & Pacific | March 1, 2011 | Comment Now

Get ready to immerse into the deep whites, blues, and greens of the bearingly green-cool landscape sculpted naturally by the chilled glaciers. This is the totally remote, but beloved wilderness of the 59-year-old Fiordland National Park located in the heart of Te Wāhipounamu (the place of greenstone) in the South Island of New Zealand (southwest). Just a single look to this area will convince as to why this is a World Heritage Area. This is of no wonder as the entire southwest of this nation is among the vast wilderness zones in the Southern Hemisphere.

The Fiordland National Park is the landscape boasting the snow-capped mountains, endless forests, profound lakes, rivers of ice, and tussock grasslands all making up for the best setting and scenery for photography. For the wildlife lovers, there is some exciting news – a few best instances of both plants and animals once seen in the old super-continent of Gondwana can be found here. For the view lovers, the seaward edge here is the home of an array of 14 giant knife cuts made in the ice age by the glaciers. Further, the snowy peaks reflect themselves in blues, while their shadows reach within the thick forest interior where there are 800-year-old trees.


Fiord means a u-shaped valley sculpted by a glacier, which is filled by the sea. In the rightly named Fiordland National Park, there are 14 such fiords around the southwest of the South Island. The Maori culture links the fiord creation with the mammoth stonemason – Tute Rakiwhanoa – the one who tinted the steep valleys! If you look at any of the sides of these fiords, there are spectacular waterfalls. Of all the fiords, the most popular is the Milford Sound after which follows the Doubtful Sound as well as the Dusky Sound. The rest of the area in the park (66%) boasts virgin beech as well as forest.

Other highlights include Mount Aspiring/Tititea vista from a peak, notably Lake Te Anau, Lake Monowai, Lake Manapouri, Lake Poteriteri, Lake Hauroko, Homer Tunnel, Hollyford Valley, Te Ana-au Cave, West Arm and Manapouri Power Station, Deep Cove, and Sutherland Falls on the Milford Track in the southwest of Milford Sound.

Visitors can explore the 500-km walking tracks for discovering this prehistoric area of peaks, lakes, and valleys. Some of the best tracks are the Hollyford Track with guided walks, Hump Ridge Track, Kepler Track until the Manapouri end as a loop route for four days, Milford Track or the ‘Great Walk’ for a four day/three night tour beginning at the Lake Te Anau and ending at the Milford Sound, Routeburn as an overnight trip to the adjacent Mount Aspiring National Park for three days, and the Dusky track as a harder longer march up to Hauroko and Manapouri.

Sea kayaking and diving is also possible in several fiords and lakes such as Te Anau and Manapouri. I would recommend diving in the Fiordland National Park for discovering a rare opportunity to spot the deepwater sea flora near the surface along with fur seals, dolphins, and penguins.

A Fiord cruise is just not worth missing. Daily picturesque flights to Milford Sound are offered, from where cruises start. In Te Anau or Manapouri, one can go for the eco-cruise of the quite inaccessible fiords. Overnight cruises are on offer at Milford and Doubtful Sounds, while the Discovery Cruises for up to 7 days are also available.

Flora and fauna

Dolphins, seals, deer, mice, rats, hare, Kakapo as the world’s only flightless parrot, native kiwi, nothofagus trees, ferns, Crown Fern, Sandflies, and Takahe as the extinct flightless bird.


The Fiordland National Park is nestled remotely in the southwest of the South Island due to which much of the park area is inaccessible by road. The parish of Te Anau acts as the entrance to the park.


The weather changes very frequently in some few hours as well as at an interval of few kilometers. Be always ready to face the rain as there are more than 200 days of rain here.

Getting around

Bus, boat, walk, and flights.


In the park, the Department of Conservation offers over 50 huts – the ‘Great Walks’ huts on the tracks of Milford, Routeburn, and Kepler with comfort beyond imagination.  All huts offer a place to sleep, toilet facilities, water supply, and a fire place. Visitors need to carry their own food and bedding.

Visitor Center

At Te Anau.

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