With the steady seep of urbanisation infiltrating the farthest corners of the planet, there aren’t many places left in the world in which you can find yourself truly in the wilderness. Surrounded by nature in its purest form, with not another soul or building in sight, and with only animals which roamed on the ancient super continent of Gondwana for company, New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park is truly awe-ispiring.
Located in the far southwest corner of the South Island, the park covers a massive 1.2 million hectares of soaring mountains, bottomless lakes, icy cold fiords, majestic glaciers and lush valleys. It is one of those rare pockets of pure wilderness in which you can truly get away from it all and experience the unadulterated beauty of nature. Because of this, and the fact that it is home to a number of extremely rare animals, it has achieved World Heritage status.
Within the park, rare indigenous birds thrive, none more so than the Takahe, a rotund flightless bird which is so rare that it was widely thought to be extinct until one was spotted in 1948. Yellow-crowned parakeets and long-tailed bats are also protected here, along with the brown teal, blue duck and southern crested grebe, all of which can be found on Fiordland lakes and rivers. Beneath the unique waters of the fiords are incredible coral forests, sub-tropical, cool water and deep water fish, and brachiopods, clam-like creatures which have remained unchanged for over 300 million years. The park’s extreme isolation has not only protected ancient creatures but has also given rise to over 700 plants found nowhere else in the world.
Most visitors come for the awesome, breathtaking, simply mind-blowing scenery and especially the famous Milford Sound fiord, on which it is possible to take a cruise or rent a kayak. One of 14 fiords in the park lying in the paths of the ancient glaciers which created them, Milford Sound is bordered by towering glacial valley cliffs down which numerous waterfalls gush. Bottlenose dolphins, fur seals and crested penguins play in the icy waters, while further below an abundance of marine animals and plants thrive. Even the journey along the road to Milford Sound from Te Anau, the gateway to the park, is spectacular. Passing surging rivers, tumbling waterfalls, vast glacial valleys and lush ancient rainforest, it is considered to be one of the finest alpine drives in the world.
It is the sheer scale of Fiordland National Park that really blows you away. It is a world away from the hustle and bustle of daily life experienced in our cities and towns.