Milford Sound, also known as Piopiotahi in Maori, is located in the south west of New Zealand's South Island. Milford Sound is situated within the Fiordland National Park which is in turn part of the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage site.
Milford Sound is named for Milford Haven in Wales, and the Cleddau River which flows into it is similarly named for a Welsh namesake. The Maori name for the sound, Piopiotahi, means first native thrush.
Milford Sound runs 15 kilometres inland from the Tasman Sea and is surrounded by sheer rock faces that rise 1200 metres or more on either side. Lush rain forests cling precariously to these cliffs, while seals, penguins, and dolphins frequent the waters.
With an mean annual rainfall of 6813 mm on 182 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 on a span of 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 falls from such heights may never reach the bottom of the sound, drifting away in the wind.
The natural beauty of this landscape draws thousands of visitors each day, making it one of New Zealand's most visited and most famous spots - even with its remote location and the one and three quarter hours drive from Te Anau.
When going to the sound be sure to take one of the many boat tours. Hiking and canoeing tours are also possible and a small number of companies also provide overnight boat trips.
Ask Dawn about a day or overnight tour to Milford Sound.