With a natural landscape that encompasses everything from geothermal wonderlands to magnificent fiords and glaciers – you’ll be expressing your astonishment at every turn: here is No. 86 of our 101 Reasons To Stop Dreaming About New Zealand And Go.
The frayed south-west corner of the South Island/Te Waipounamu conceals a multitude of scenic marvels, every one of them an awe-inspiring sight. Steep-sided fiords, most famously Milford Sound/Piopiotahi and Doubtful Sound/Patea, are where vegetation clings to cracks in the rock below sharp, soaring peaks, the valleys below flooded with a unique combination of sea and fresh water. A stunning seven metres of rain falls here in Fiordland every year, turning a wet forecast into a welcome event for visitors, as hundreds of high waterfalls leap down the bare rock. Many of the visitors marvelling at this spectacularly memorable sight are unaware that there is something equally remarkable below the surface of the water.
Southern Discoveries’ Discover More cruise along Milford Sound stops at Harrison Cove, accessible only by boat. Walking down the steps to the Underwater Observatory there, you’ll find yourself 10 metres below the surface and confronted with the unexpected: sponges, snake stars, anemones and rare black coral. All of these, especially the coral, are normally found at much deeper levels in the sea, but are fooled by the unique surface layer of fresh water, which causes ‘deep water emergence’ and enables these species to thrive. Just another Milford marvel.