is located in the
the bottom of the west coast near Queenstown
. It is one of the
most beautiful spots in New Zealand.
described Milford as the eighth wonder of
the world, and Arthur Michener
said it is
'the most stirring sight in the Pacific'
The Maori name for Milford Sound is Piopiotahi, and
means Place of the singing thrush (which is a now
extinct native bird). In Maori legend,
the fjords of Piopiotahi (Milford Sound)
weren't created by rivers
and ice, but by Tu Te Raki Whanoa, a godly figure
who wielded a magical adze and uttered incantations. It
is believed early Maori of Southland and
Otago traveled the Milford Track
route in search of pounamu (Greenstone, a type of Jade).
In 1812, John Grono was the first European settler to
land in the sound, and gave it the name
Milford Sound after
Milford Haven in Wales. When he attempted to
land he ended up setting anchor in a small cove because
it was the only sheltered part of the sound shallow enough
for his anchor to reach.
Donald Sutherland became the
first European to live in
Milford in 1877. He founded The City of Milford,
which at the time consisted of three huts.
The main and most well known access to Milford was
the Milford track until 1889 when W.H. Homer
discovered the Homer Saddle. The Homer tunnel,
which runs through the Homer Saddle was originally
budgeted at 2000 pounds. In a classic example of totally
underestimating the engineering requirements, the
tunnel was finally completed in 1954 taking nearly
20 years to build and costing 1 million pounds.
The tunnel runs on a 1:10 gradient
and is 1.2km long, it also doesn't have any lighting.
If the tunnel were dug level, it would
have exited 120 meters above ground in a sheer rockface.
There are countless activities that can be done in
and around Milford sound,
ranging from absolutely nothing while you relax at a resort,
through to extreme caving, climbing, bungy jumping
river rafting, kayaking... you get the picture.
The sound is most famous however, for the Milford track.
The Milford track, which runs between Lake Te Anau and
Milford Sound, is a 55km hike which takes three
to four days and is
one of the most beautiful walks in the world. Over
14000 people walk the track each year, and it can only
be walked in one direction during the busy season,
from Glade Wharf to Milford Sound.
Milford Sound is named incorrectly, as it is a Fjord,
not a Sound. The fjords are as deep as 1000 meters in
some places, and the sheer cliffs in the sound reach as
high as 1400 meters.
Sutherland Falls which the Milford track
runs past, is the fourth largest waterfall in the
Milford Sound has the second highest rainfall in the
world with 7 meters of rain each year, slightly less
than the mountains Tahiti.
Te Ananu is the closet town to the sound. It has
a population of around 3000. It is a two hour drive
from Te Ananu to the sound through windy roads.
My two cents
If you ever get the chance to go, then definitely go, and
if you can, do the Milford track walk. It is physically
demanding, so you must be reasonably fit, but it is well
worth it. The weather changes frequently, but whether it
is raining on sunny, its always amazing.
I've also heard there is a submarine in operation that
is well worth the trip.
Thanks to psionicman for helping me
polish up this WU.