Among my favorite places on Earth are those places that take me out of space and time, and make me feel like I am standing on the edge of the flat earth. One of the most spectacular of these places is Milford Sound, on the west coast of New Zealand’s south island. The obvious and played comparison is to that of Middle Earth from Lord of the Rings – but this fjord is much more than that.
About one thousand years ago, as the legend goes, the Māori [the indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand] discovered Milford Sound, naming it Piopiotahi, after a now-extinct bird. The fjord is 19km (12mi) long, and 2.5km (1.5mi) at it’s widest. It was named was named by Welshman John Grono, a sealer, after Milford Haven in Wales.
When you first set your eyes upon the fjord, it is quite frankly a sensory overload of beauty: the green, the mist, the waterfalls, and the 1700 meter [5500+ feet] tall Mitre Peak. There are a variety of ways to see the fjord, by car [through the Homer Tunnel], hiking, day and overnight boat tours, etc. My father was particularly thrilled when I brought him home a bottle of Milford Single Malt – to my knowledge the only single malt whisky made in New Zealand.
In my travels thus far, there have been only a few other places in the world that can compare to Milford Sound’s beauty: the Nepalese Himalayas where when you wake up in the morning you think you are looking at huge mountains until the mist burns off and you realize you were only looking at the foothills; the Lake Louise region of the Canadian Rockies with its picture-perfect glacial lakes; Chilean Patagonia and the Torres del Paine; and Iceland, with a feel very similar to New Zealand’s South Island, and a beauty to match it.
If you have ever contemplated a trip to New Zealand, go for it. The flight may be a bit long, but the effort is well worth it [no pain – no gain!]. And when you get there, head for Milford Sound – it will be as memorable a place as any you will ever travel to [http://milford-sound.co.nz/].
I for one liked it almost as much as a particular Kiwi I once met. 🙂