If you want to leave the stress of your daily routine behind, the serene elegance of Fiordland will soon have you forgetting that you have left your responsibilities at home!
Fiordland National Park is New Zealand’s largest national park, covering 12,500 km2. It’s almost twice the size of Singapore. Nestled within Te Wahipounamu World Heritage site, it is an internationally important conservation area.
The many fiords which give Fiordland its name were carved out millions of years ago by the slow grinding of glaciers; or by the demi-God Tu-te-raki-whanoa wielding his famous adze Te Hamo, if you prefer the local folklore. Maori have strong ties to the land, and legend says that Tu-te-raki-whanoa stood with his feet planted on Secretary and Resolution Islands and carved out the craggy fiords, perfecting his skill as he reached and hewed out the beautiful Milford Sound (Piopiotahi). Given the rugged views from the sea, it seems just as logical that it could be carved by an adze as by ice.
As well as virgin forest, many rare species live within the safe harbours of the National Park, including Fiordland penguins, black coral and species of dolphin, seals and penguins. Whales are often seen here on their way to warmer waters. Birdlife includes Kiwi, Kakapo (a large flightless parrot), blue-green Takahe and multitudes of native feathered folk who keep the bush alive with their song. And of course, there are always the sandflies! The Maori goddess Hinenui-te-Po is said to have set the little devils namu loose after Tu-te-raki-whanoa carved the land, to stop people staying too long in her most beautiful places, and they take their job seriously.
Heavy rainfall – exceeding seven metres per year in places – keeps the forests lush throughout the year. Mountains soaring over 2,000 metres into the sky are often eclipsed by the Aurora Australis, a spectacular natural night light show. Lakes and rivers feed the fiords and glaciers and waterfalls adorn the mountainsides.
Road access is minimal, and the best way to view the National Park is by water or air, or by foot on one of the Great Walks. Keplar, Milford and Routeburn Tracks are all within Fiordland National Park, and there really is no better way to appreciate nature than by being one with it for a few days, for in the words of wilderness writer Charles Cook, “Your deepest roots are in nature. No matter who you are, where you live, or what kind of life you lead, you remain irrevocably linked with the rest of creation.”
“Take a scenic flight across one of the most dramatic and beautiful regions of the South Island. The views of Fiordland from the air are just breathtaking. There are spectacular mountains and waterfalls absolutely everywhere.” – James Cameron, World-renowned filmmaker