The first thing that strikes many visitors who make their way to Milford Sound is the diverse nature of the scenery. Staggering mountains rest side-by-side with lush waterfalls. Go there at the right time of year and it may even feel tropical. Naturally, diverse climates give rise to varied species. Those who see Milford Sound wildlife are also struck by how diverse it is, as well as how all its inhabitants live together in harmony.
Milford Sound Wildlife Below the Water
When many people think of coral, they picture the vibrant colours that melt into each other on the reefs of far-flung shores. At Milford Sound, the coral is deep and black. Known as antipathes fiordensis, this black coral is native to the Fiordland area. Crawling up the walls beneath the water’s surface in vertical columns, many of the growths are tree-like. Some are over 300-years-old, placing them amongst Milford Sound’s oldest inhabitants.
Close by are the dolphins that navigate the waters of Milford Sound. It is thought that more than 60 bottlenose dolphins inhabit the area, engaging playfully with those who choose to dive and snorkel there. Boaters who move through the waters at 20-22 knots sometimes see the dolphins peering at them, offering an excellent photo opportunity.
Milford Sound Wildlife Above the Water
Although the European explorers who first found Milford Sound almost drove the seals to extinction, some still remain there. This is largely due to conservation efforts, allowing these cute critters to flourish on their natural rocky habitats. The New Zealand Fur Seal is a common spectacle at Milford Sound, as they enjoy basking lazily on the rocks during daylight hours.
Neighbouring the seals are some of the world’s rarest penguins: The Fiordland Crested Penguin. With a dazzling orange beak and blonde streaks that rest either side of its eyes, the Fiordland Crested Penguin is striking, yet undeniably cute. Living alongside them are the Little Blue penguins, which have an unmistakable blue tint that stretches around their body.
While Milford Sound’s rocks have plenty to offer in terms of wildlife, the skies are not to be overlooked either. The area acts as a breeding ground for breathtaking birds, including the wildly elegant Shag, the aptly named Oystercatcher, and the dusky Sooty Shearwater gull.
Flora and Fauna Across Milford Sound
While animals are mesmerizing to watch, Milford Sound’s flora and fauna as much contributes to the area’s appeal as the critters living there do. Greenery falls over the U-shaped valleys effortlessly, acting as a cloak that sits either side of tumbling waterfalls.
The lush forests in the area serve to protect many species, including the rare Blue Duck, which you will find just outside the area off Eglington Road. Mosses and low-laying plants exist in vibrant yellows and greens, while tall Rimu trees tower above them. The beech forests are excellent locations for lazy walks, with plenty of opportunities to spot animals along the way.
While some are tall and willowy, other trees are short and gnarly. The rugged untouched nature of the plants at Milford Sound will leave you feeling as though you have left the modern world behind. When you reach the deeper parts of the valleys, you will come upon black pines with dark bark, carrying a sharp contrast of yellow leaves.
Whether you explore Milford Sound by foot or from the comfort of a cruise, it will not leave you feeling disappointed. Nature rules supreme in this area, allowing observers to experience it like they have never experienced it before.