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Home to the iconic Milford and Doubtful Sounds within its World Heritage listed area, Fiordland is a setting of dramatic scenery and rugged coastlines whilst its interior is home to picturesque lakes.

The largest of New Zealand’s national parks, Fiordland offers a rich variety of natural settings, with dramatic and wild coastline of over 215 kilometres which. The coastline is indented with 14 fiords, the most famous two (which are easily accessible on day trips from Te Anau or Queenstown) are Milford Sound with its spectacular Mitre Peak and cascading waterfalls, and the more serene Doubtful Sound ‘the Sound of Silence’. Both of the sounds are rich in flora and fauna.

Away from the coast the scenery is just as stunning but provides a very different landscape. The towns of Te Anau and Manapouri lend their names to the lakes which they sit upon. If visiting Doubtful Sound you will have the opportunity to cross Lake Manapouri in order to access the sound, whilst in Te Anau a scenic cruise upon the lake leads you to a geologically active cave system provides a fairyland setting of sculptured rocks lit up by the enchanting lights provided by glow-worms.

Birdlife in Fiordland is incredibly rich with the Murchison and Stuart Mountains supporting around 160 takahe, a flightless alpine bird, which had previously thought to have been extinct. Along the lakes and streams of Fiordland you may spot yellow-crowned parakeets, yellowheads, brown teal, blue duck and southern crested grebes, along with long-tailed bats. On the higher altitude roads, such as the Milford Highway leading to Milford Sound, you may also get the chance to be entertained by the native mountain parrot, the kea.

The area is also home to excellent walking opportunities and has gained a reputation of being the ‘Walking Capital of the World’ with the multi-day walking tracks of Milford, Kepler, Routeburn and Hollyford. 

View suggested itinerary

Key info

  • Ideal for viewing: Fiordland crested penguin, New Zealand fur seal, bottlenose dolphin, kea, yellow-crowned parakeet
  • Where: South Island, New Zealand

Wildlife trips

This wildlife location is featured in the following itinerary:

Kiwis & Whales Galore: South Island Self-drive

This self-drive of New Zealand’s South Island showcases dramatic scenery, from sandy beaches to picturesque snow-capped mountains. Highlights include cetacean-rich Kaikoura, the Otago Peninsula - home to the endangered yellow-eyed penguin - and Stewart Island for southern brown kiwis.

  • When to go: Sep-May
  • Duration inc. flights: 23 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £6,395 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea