The very image of New Zealand conjures up in the minds eye scenic expanses and huge sheets of ice amidst natural coastlines and fjords. The Milford Sound is one of the most frequented tourist attractions here with its majestic waterfall cascading out of a rock structure at an elevation of 1200 meters. What makes it more endearing is its animal population. You can see numerous seals, penguins and dolphins in the area. This is one of the wettest place of New Zealand with 182 days of rain round the year approximately. Maybe it is a boon for the place as the main source of water here is rain and ice. Cruising is one of the many ways you can visit this place. There is also an underwater observatory here from where you can check out the amazing and to some extent mysterious marine life.The Milford Sound Track finishes off at the Sandfly Point.
The first to discover the magical land of Milford Sound were thenative Maoris about 1000 years ago. The Maoris traded in ponamu (greenstone. They use to take a path that crossed the MacKinnon Pass on the Milford Track. In their local dialect they named it Piopiotahi after the endemic thrush like bird that was found here but is now extinct. John Grono was the first European to discover the place and named it in keeping with his Welsh background. The Maori believed that this beautiful place was shaped by Tu-te-raki-whanoa who was a godly figure amongst the locals. He made it with his supernatural powers by chanting a prayer. With his toki he struck across the rock walls.
The Milford Road that leads you to Milford Sound is a great feat of architecture and engineering. It took about 19 years to construct it. The Homer Tunnel as it is known , is wide enough for a bus to go in but is steep in nature. The road is quite scenic and you will be passing many a mountain landscape. The tunnel enters into a rain forest infested canyon. Avalanches are quite frequent in the tunnel. Snow is constant here in the Winters. The Milford Track is one of the most beautiful tracks in the world itinerary of walks. It runs for 5 kilometers from Lake Te Anau to Milford Sound. Approximately it takes 4 days to complete the track unless you want to return from halfway. For resting small huts lines the way by the Department of Conservation. Also all the provisions that you are carrying is your responsibility. This same track was used by the Maori thousand years earlier who were expert bush navigators. Quintin Mackinnon, from Scotland, was the first guide and the high pass was named after him as a show of reverence. Before 1954 tourists would do a double walk as the highway was not built then.
One of the main attraction of Milford Sound is sailing through the Te Anau Downs to Glade Wharf. Take a walk from the Glade Wharf and ends at Sandfly Point on Milford Sound. Each day brings forth a new experience If some days you are walking the shores of the Clinton River at others you are walking amidst thick beech forests. The best of sceneries are seen on the third day when you check the landscape from the Mackinnon Pass. This area is challenging as well. If health and fitness is no constraint take a de tour to the Sutherland Falls originating from Lake Quill. While you are making your way through the track a lot of vegetation comes into view. The scenery keeps on changing as in reel life. From beech forest to wetlands to rainforests all will be covered on your way. Jagged rocks and ferns are quite common.