Spanning 1.2 million hectares and designated as a national park in 1952. Fiordland was later declared a World Heritage Area in 1986 as part of Te Wāhipounamu. (South West New Zealand World Heritage Area)
This is a mesmerising land of waterfalls cascading hundreds of metres into deep black fiords. The territory encompasses Milford, Dusky and Doubtful Sounds sculpted by glaciers for over 100,000 years. Here, ancient rainforests untouched by man cling to mountainsides. Granite peaks and shimmering lakes remain unchanged for millennia. Fiordland is New Zealand's final frontier.
Around 800 years ago, early Maori began to explore Fiordland. Here, they found the precious Pounamu or New Zealand Jade, commonly known as Greenstone. Pounamu with its beauty, resilience and rarity has always been regarded by Maori and all New Zealanders as a great treasure.
To the Maori, this stone has great spiritual significance and its possession is held in high regard. This greenstone has huge practical value as a raw material. Being as hard as steel, it was greatly prized for making tools, weapons and ornaments.
The First Europeans in Fiordland
Captain Cook and his crew were the first Europeans to visit Fiordland, spending five weeks at Dusky Sound in 1773. As a result of Cook’s maps and descriptions, sealers and whalers soon followed, forming the country's first European settlements.
Subsequently, from the middle of the 19th century, surveyors, explorers and prospectors began to penetrate the unexplored interior of Fiordland. Preservation Inlet boomed briefly in the 1890s after the discovery of gold. However, efforts to establish mines, timber mills and farms in the region have generally been short-lived. Consequently, the region remains largely uninhabited.
Mother nature truly outdid herself in this pocket of the planet, there’s something to capture around every corner. Highlights include the majestic Milford Sound, with the supreme centrepiece of Mitre Peak, described by Rudyard Kipling as the Eighth Wonder of the World.
Add to this the inspiring Eglinton Valley and the charming cascade creek. Meanwhile, the mighty lakes of Te Anau and Manapouri will no doubt be jostling for your lens's attention.
Not to be outdone, Pop’s View of the Hollyford Valley proposes spectacular views of the glaciers which helped form this magnificent valley. Furthermore, the mirror lakes alongside the Milford highway will keep your ND filters busier than a cat trying to cover turds on a lino floor.
Completely Useless Facts about Fiordland
- Fiordland is home to some of the strangest of New Zealand’s birds. Aside from the well known Kiwi, the world’s only flightless parrot, the käkäpo lives here. Its neighbour includes the worlds only alpine parrot, the Kea.
- The mostly untouched landscape and breathtaking scenery in Fiordland National Park served as a backdrop for the Lord of the Rings trilogy movies.
- Doubtful Sound is the largest fiord in Fiordland, this remote fiord is known as ‘the Sound of Silence‘. It is home to one of the southernmost populations of bottlenose dolphins. Initially named “Doubtful Harbour” by Captain Cook in 1770. Cook sailed past deciding not to enter due to concerns over its navigability.
- The famous Milford Track known as ‘the Finest Walk in the World’ passes through Fiordland. A four to five-day trek through valleys carved by glaciers, passing through ancient rainforests and cascading waterfalls.
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