Milford Sound, and its lesser-known neighbours Doubtful Sound and Dusky Sound are perfect examples of New Zealand’s rugged landscapes. This is Fiordland National Park, a huge area full of fjords, waterfalls, rivers, lakes and forests. There are also many special animals such as the kiwi, kea, takahe, pukeko and weka. There are also glow worms. It’s one of the best places to go hiking in the world.
Fiordland is the largest national park in New Zealand, and this area on the South Island has a long history. Scientists believe that the mountains here are around 500 million years old. Around 200 million years ago, volcanic activity caused the sandstone and limestone rocks to rise out of the water.
Check out this video of how people live in this wilderness:
Due to its location in the most south-western part of the South Island, the landscape is exposed to the elements. Especially during the ice age this brought forth many changes. The mass of ice pushed down the land below, while it slowly slid into the Tasman sea. The melting snow also caused erosion that created gorges, valleys and lakes.
The fjords and many lakes in the area are silent witnesses to this endless process. Big lakes such as Te Anau and Lake Manapouri are in fact just dips in the earth that filled up with the water from the melting ice that came off the surrounding mountains. The elements are still sculpting this landscape: the large amounts of rain impact the rocks, and rivers carve up the landscape.
The rugged nature of Milford Sound. Corno van den Berg
The area is also well known in Maori culture, who are the first people of New Zealand, though not many lived in the area. They have legends about this landscape: the demigod Tuterakiwhanoa is believed to have carved the fjords and rugged landscapes from the rocks. His work was so phenomenal, that everyone stopped what they were doing to watch. The goddess Hinenuitepo wasn’t pleased with this, so she invented the sandfly. This tiny insect with a vicious bite would stop people from being idle.
There is evidence to show that the Maori people did use the area for hunting, and to look for jade – a precious stone that is still an emblem of New Zealand. They used this bright green rock to make jewellery and weapons.
The famous English explorer James Cook was likely to be the first white man to visit this part of New Zealand. He was the one that named Doubtful Sound, as he wasn’t sure if he would ever make it out of the fjord. Milford Sound became famous in the 19th century, when the author Rudyard Kipling, who wrote The Jungle Book, said that Milford Sound is the 8th wonder of the world. That’s quite a statement, since the first seven were manmade…