Cruising Fiordland Natl Park

New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park is the largest of the country’s 14 national parks, at 4,868 sq. mi./12,607 sq. km. Located on the southwest corner of the South Island, it was founded in 1904, to protect the natural environment for nature lovers and trekkers. It comprises a large portion of the Te Wahipounamu UNESCO World Heritage Site. The key features of the park are the mountain ranges of the Southern Alps, which rise to heights from 1,500 m/4,900 ft to over 2,500 m/8,200 ft., as well as the spectacular U-shaped glaciated fjord valleys that cut into the mountains as deeply as 25 miles from the sea. There are three major fjords that are navigable by your ships, Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound and Dusky Sound. Your exact itinerary will be determined by your captain depending on the weather and other conditions on the day. But whatever course you sail, you will be treated to spectacular waterways curving between sheer cliffs towering thousands of feet above the mirrored surface of the fjord. Depending on recent rainfall, waterfalls tumble down the rock faces from above. Many of the peaks have nicknames based on their resemblance to animals or other objects of previous observers’ imaginations. You are also likely to see seals, birds including fiordland penguins, bottlenose dolphins and possibly such other fauna as red deer or whales.