Milford Sound is located in the south west of New Zealand's South Island. Although called Milford Sound, it is more accurately classified as a fjord. Milford Sound, likely the most popular tourist attraction of the South Island, is situated within the Fiordland National Park which is part of the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage site.
Milford Sound, also known as Piopiotahi in Maori, runs 15 kilometres inland from the Tasman Sea and is surrounded by sheer rock faces that rise more then 1000 metres either side. Lush virgin rain forests cling to these cliffs, while seals, penguins, and dolphins occupy these waters.
With an annual rainfall of 6800 mm on 180 days a year, a high level even for the West Coast, Milford Sound is known as the wettest place in New Zealand and one of the wettest in the world. Rainfall can reach 250 mm in 24 hours. The rainfall creates dozens of temporary waterfalls (as well as a number of major, more permanent ones) cascading down the cliff faces, some reaching a thousand meters in length. Smaller waterfalls fall from such heights, thay never reach the bottom of the sound and end up drifting away with the wind.
Milford Sound draws thousands of visitors each day, making it one of New Zealand's most visited spots, even with its remote location and the long journey from the nearest populated centres.
Almost all tourists going to the sound also take one of the boat cruises which usually last between one and two hours. They are offered by several companies, departing from the Milford Sound Visitors Centre.
Hiking or tramping and Kayaking are also possible. A small number of companies also provides overnight boattrips. There is only limited accommodation at the sound otherwise, and only a very few tourists stay more than the day.
An underwater observatory provides viewing of black coral, usually only found in much deeper waters. A dark surface layer of fresh water, stained by tannins from the surrounding forest, allows the corals to grow close to the surface here.
Milford Sound is a must see for all who wish to explore New Zealand's natural treasures. Come, see and you will enjoy......
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