“Sound”ing out New Zealand’s Fjords

Due to some sort of cartographic error, all of the fjords (or fiords to the hard of spelling) in New Zealand’s “Fiordlands” area have been given the name “sound”: Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound and so on.

The difference between a Fjord and a Sound can easily be discovered by using your favourite search engine – a facility that was not available to Captain Cook and the other early discoverers of New Zealand.

Anyway, we went had a a trip to Milford Sound to discover for ourselves what all the fuss was about, not yet having been to see the Norwegian fjords.

Wow! Wow! Wow! Wow! At the risk of sounding like a dog that has lost half its voice wow again!

If a picture can paint 1,000 words then here we go have a gander…

Milford sound

Milford sound

Sadly due to a problem with the rented camper van and a delay to the start of our trip, my elder daughter (Beth) who was only with us for a few days missed this part of the trip, so the photo above is Marc, Anna and I on a boat trip looking at the nature in the “sound”.

Did I say wow!?

High cliffs topped with snow, running rivers of snowmelt turning in to cascades as they tumbled past a treasure trove of mineral encrusted rocks into the clearest clear sea. Peace and tranquility even on a boatful of people. Our guide deftly pointed out the way the trees had colonised the sheer rock faces, told us of the marine life around such as fur seals and dolphins, explained how Captain Cook and other actually missed Milford Sound because from sea the break in the wall is not readily discernible, and how the whole area is protected by its world heritage status despite the obvious value of the metals and minerals (including gold) in the magnificent rocks.

The boat even took us INTO the waterfalls so that we could get another perspective on what was going on around us.

Milford sound waterfall

Words fail me and at times like this I wish I were a poet to be able to adequately describe what we experienced.

All too soon the three hours were up and we were back on shore admiring the fjord from there, and we did not plan on going to Doubtful Sound – the only other accessible fjord (if you call boat across a lake, then bus, then another boat “accessible”) due to the high cost.

However I will say this… If you are spending time on South Island then make Fiordland a priority and spend at least a week there. You will be glad that you did as it’s not only the fjords but also there is so much to see on the road to get there!




Go on - leave a comment!