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Fiordland’s 10 Marine Reserves

Piopiotahi Marine Reserve

Mitre Peak, Milford Sound

Fiordland has 10 marine reserves sprawling more than 10,000 hectares across southern New Zealand. Hosting a variety of wildlife and made famous by the many movies filmed in the area, Fiordland is often referred to as the eighth wonder of the world.

Piopiotahi Marine Reserve is one of the most popular places for water activities in Fiordland and is found right here, in Milford Sound. After enjoying the stunning drive to Milford, why not take advantage of the scuba diving and snorkelling. You’ll see the unique black corals the fiords are known for and maybe even seals and dolphins.

Piopiotahi Marine Reserve

Located along the northern side of Milford Sound, the reserve stretches from Milford Sound all the way to Dale Point. Here it meets the Tasman Sea, attracting over a hundred varieties of fish to its sheltered, deep waters.

Established in 1993, Piopiotahi Marine Reserve stretches over 16 km in length and covers 690 hectares in surface area.

There is no better way to take in the vastness of the reserve than by boat. Be dwarfed by the towering mountains and cascading waterfalls as your driver brings you to areas inaccessible to cars and self-guided tours.

Plus, if your Milford Sound experience gets you hooked on the otherworldly landscapes of Piopiotahi, why not also check out one of the other nine marine reserves in the Fiordland region.

Te Tapuwae o Hua (Long Island) Marine Reserve

At 3672 hectares, Te Tapuwae o Hua Marine Reserve is the largest of all of the marine reserves in Fiordland. Established in 2005, this is the most physically isolated of all of the marine reserves in the Fiordland region. It contains Useless Bay, ‘the Narrows,’ Revolver Bay and Long Sound basin. The Narrows contains the internationally renowned ‘strawberry fields’ known for large concentrations of the strawberry holothurian (sea cucumber). Not to mention the red coral and huge densities of stony corals.

Kahukura (Gold Arm) Marine Reserve

Located at Charles Sound, Kahukura Marine Reserve covers approximately 464 hectares. Housing a large number of sheltered and vital marine habitats protected from the Tasman’s ocean swells. Black and red corals are abundant here and can often be seen from a boat.

Kutu Pārera (Gaer Arm) Marine Reserve

This 433 hectare reserve is located in Bradshaw Sound. Here there are a number of marine habitats that reach all the way to Camelot River where estuarine habitats house local bird and marine species.

Moana Uta Marine Reserve

This reserve spans all the way from the head of the sound out to Entry Island. The 2007 hectare habitat hosts the largest recorded density of black coral in the Fiordland.

Hawea (Clio Rocks) Marine Reserve

Covering 411 hectares of marine habitat, here the almost vertical rock faces of Turn Round Point are bound to amaze. Abundant species of reef fish and invertebrates feed on the plankton that is swept through in high tide attracting seals and larger feeding fish.

Taipari Roa (Elizabeth Island) Marine Reserve

Elizabeth Island reaches over an area of around 613 hectares in the inner Doubtful Sound area. Divers delight here in spying the bright yellow glass sponges.

Taumoana (Five Fingers Peninsula) Marine Reserve

Situated at the entrance to Dusky Sound, Taumoana reserve contains the only protected rocky reef habitat in Fiordland.

Te Awaatu Channel (The Gut) Marine Reserve is the smallest marine reserve in Fiordland covering about 93 hectares where Te Hāpua (Sutherland Sound) Marine Reserve remains the least visited and studied marine reserve in Fiordland.

So, on your next visit, why not explore Piopiotahi with a group and capture those movie-worthy photos, or if you’re feeling bold, trek beyond the tourist trail to Te Hāpua. Whether you’re a keen diver or prefer a relaxing cruise on the sun deck, there are abundant wonders waiting for you in Milford.