CRUISING MILFORD SOUND
Named after Milford Haven in Wales, Milford Sound is not a sound but a fjord, yet the name has stuck. In 1998 the Maori name Piopiotahi has been added and officially it should be written as Milford Sound/Piopiotahi. The local name refers to the extinct New Zealand Thrush (the piopio). Milford Sound sits within South Island’s Fiordland National Park, one of the four national parks forming the UNESCO World Heritage site “Te Wahipounamu” –pounamu being the local greenstone highly estimated for carvings by the Maori.
The fjord has a length of approximately 16 kilometers and a depth of more than 290 meters. Steep cliffs, several impressive waterfalls and dense rainforest characterize the fjord. Halfway down the fjord is Stirling Falls, the second tallest. Near the end of the sound the U-shaped Sinbad Gully and the famous Mitre Peak which rises to a height of 1,692 meters can be seen, while on the eastern side is Lady Bowen Falls, at 162 meters the tallest of the falls. The Piopiotahi Marine Reserve protects the flora and fauna in the water. Apart from bottlenose dolphins in the fjord, New Zealand fur seals can be seen resting on Seal Rock on the northern shore, while on the opposite side is a Fiordland Crested Penguin site.