Fiordland National Park is located in the southwest corner of South Island (New Zealand). Fiordland is NZ's biggest of a total of 14 national parks. It has total area approx 12500 km2 (4830 mi2) and is administered by NZ's Department of Conservation. The most-visited by cruise ships fjords in Fiordland are the sounds Milford, Doubtful and Dusky.
Fiordland NP is a very popular active-travel destination for climbers and trampers, with the tracks Milford, Hollyford, Routeburn and Kepler all in or near the park. Off-track travel relies mainly on deer trails. Flooding, sandflies and bad weather are a hazard. Boat tourists are also attracted to Milford Sound, which has a small boat marina.
In the 1850s, red deer were introduced to NZ and they subsequently colonized Fiordland. By 1920s, herds of wild deer competed with NZ's cattle and sheep for feed, which resulted in pressure on the government from farmers. Deer cullers were employed in order to indiscriminately shoot deer to reduce the population. Combined with a blooming deer farming industry, it reduced the impact of aerial hunting. Market hunting from helicopters still continues, with the biggest market being Germany. The New Zealand government uses helicopters to poison deer and possums with aerial dropping of 1080 Poison (synthetic form of FCH2CO2Na / sodium fluoroacetate), despite some public opposition to its use.
Doubtful Sound is a very large, U-shaped fjord with total length approx 40 km (25 mi), ranking it Fiordland's second longest. Its max depth is 421 m (1381 ft). The nearest town (Manapouri) is at approx 50 km (31 mi). Fjord's scenery is marked by the surrounding high mountains (with peaks reaching up to 1,6 km / 5200 ft) covered with dense rainforest, steep hills, hundreds of waterfalls (the largest being Helena Falls and Browne Falls, over 600 m / 2000 ft high).
Doubtful Sound was discovered in 1770 by Captain James Cook (1728-1779, British Royal Navy officer, explorer and cartographer). It was initially named 'Doubtful Harbour' as Captain Cook didn't first enter the fjord as he was uncertain whether it was navigable. Doubtful Fjord was first charted in 1793 during a Spanish scientific expedition.
Wildlife includes bottlenose dolphins, fur seals, penguins, large whales (humpback and right whales, minke whales, sperm whales, beaked whales, pilot whales, orcas), starfish, corals. Doubtful Fjord is designated "Important Bird Area" as breeding ground for Fiordland penguins.
Dusky Sound is accessed by sea or air only. No roads reach the coast at this point, but Dusky Track stretches to fjord's upper reaches from lakes Hauroko and Manapouri.
One of the most complex fiord systems on this coast, Dusky Fjord is also one of the NZ's biggest, with length 40 km (25 mi) and max-width 8 km (5 mi). Resolution Island is located to the north of fjord's mouth. Five Fingers Peninsula protects Dusky Fjord's mouth from the northwest. Along island's east coast, Acheron Passage links Dusky with Breaksea Sound (to the north).
The largest islands in Dusky Fjord are Long Island, Cooper Island and Anchor Island. Fjord's upper reaches are steep-sided. Region's high precipitation results in numerous scenic waterfalls. Wildlife includes dolphins, seals, occasionally large whales (southern right whales and humpback whales). Seaforth River is the longest of the many small waterways flowing into the fjord. Dusky Sound is designated "Important Bird Area" as breeding site for Fiordland penguins.
Milford Sound is located on the southwestern coast of South Island. Milford's scenery is marked by sheer granite walls (with height up to 1200 m / 3940 ft), hundreds of waterfalls, lush valleys, crystal-clear waters. Highest elevation point (Mitre Peak) is 1520 m (5000 ft).
Most cruise ships enter the 13 km (8 mi) long Milford Fiord to admire the scenery and then turn round back to sea. Some liners tender cruise passengers or dock at Milford Town. Sea approach is sometimes rough, mountain tops are often hidden in mist and rainfall is intense.
The small Milford Town has an airport (serving domestic flights only), cruise terminal, fishing harbour, post office, two hotels. Sights that can be reached on foot include Donald Sutherland's grave, the Lookout and Lady Bowen Falls. Boat tours in Milford Sound take tourists to Fiordland's largest waterfalls and the seal colony. The fjord was named in 1823 after Milford Haven - port town in Pembrokeshire (Wales UK).
The largest-ever cruise ship that navigated in Milford Sound was Royal Caribbean's Ovation of the Seas. The 169,000-ton vessel with ~6000 passengers and crew passed Fiordland's three sounds (Doubtful, Dusky and Milford) on December 22, 2016, en-route from Hobart Tasmania to Dunedin NZ. However, due to bad weather, Dunedin (Port Chalmers) was skipped and the liner continued directly to Wellington NZ.
Port Fiordland National Park cruise ship schedule shows timetable calendars of all arrival and departure dates by month. The port's schedule lists all ships (in links) with cruises going to or leaving from Fiordland National Park, New Zealand. To see the full itineraries (ports of call dates and arrival / departure times) and their lowest rates – just follow the corresponding ship-link.
|29 October, 2020|
|Ovation Of The Seas||09:00|
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