World Herit‍‍‍age Area

With such a large area the conservation task doesn’t just fall on the Department Of Conservation but is avidly supported by the community and businesses operating here. There are too many initiatives to mention all but just to give you an idea here are a few. 

The Fiordland Conservation Trust is a community-driven initiative supporting conservation projects in Fiordland, Southland and NZ's Sub-Antarctic Islands. It was established in 2007 to provide independent funding and resources to further protect the natural treasures (taonga) of southern New Zealand.

But conservation also extends to the water ways, commercial access to which is managed by Environment Southland. 

So in 1995 a group of concerned local Fiordland users and community representatives formed the Guardians of Fiordland’s Fisheries Inc, which later became the Guardians of Fiordland’s Fisheries and Marine environment Inc (the Guardians). The Guardians include commercial and recreational fishers, charter boat and tourism operators, environmentalists, marine scientists, community representatives and tangata whenua (Ngai Tahu).

The formation of the Guardians was in response to concerns about the escalating pressures on the Fiordland Marine Area and a desire that the local community be more involved in the management of Fiordland’s marine environment.

Those privileged enough to spend time in Fiordland find a place beyond superlatives. The Fiordland National Park occupies the south western corner of the South Island of New Zealand and with 12500 km2 is the largest of the 14 parks – the landscape is simply stunning. From dramatic peaks, sheer rock faces drop into steep slopes descending right to the water’s edge with the temperate rainforest only just clinging on. With rainfall exceeding seven metres a year in places, thundering waterfalls and cascades appear at every turn. This is a place of many moods – wind can whip the sea’s surface into a froth of funnels and swirls, but when the day is calm, mirrored reflections are nothing short of magic. And the magic does not stop at the water’s surface. Beneath the reflections of the fiords, something unusual is happening. Fresh water soaking down through the carpeted forest floor absorbs tannins, which stain it the colour of tea. On reaching the saltwater, the less dense fresh water floats on the surface, forming a tea-stained light-blocking layer. Kelps, normally the basis of marine communities, cannot grow in the light-poor conditions, and are replaced by animals which normally inhabit greater, darker depths. At the fiord entrances and along the outer coast, conditions are very different, and much more dynamic. Here kelps flourish in the turbulent water, fostering productive marine communities where rock lobster (koura) teem and paua graze the rocks. Such profound difference between the inner fi rd environment and the entrances and open coast has fundamental implications for the fish communities. Alongside Fiordland’s fish communities live some of its special inhabitants – bottlenose dolphins, New Zealand fur seals (kekeno), Fiordland crested penguins (tawaki), and blue penguins (korora). On a lucky day, you may even see whales, which swim by where the continental shelf comes close to the coast.


ecosystem & Wildlife

Fiordland is the home of two very different but interconnected ecosystems – above and beyond the surface of the water. And thanks to New Zealands isolation from the rest of the world there are many unique and endemic species to be marvelled at in both cases. 

In some instances you’ll even come across endangered birdlife such as the mohua (yellowhead), tieke (saddleback), kakaruai (south island robin), pateke (brown teal), whio (blue duck), kakapo (night parrot), peka-peka-tou-roa (long tailed wattled bat), oligosoma pikitanga (Sinbad Skink).

You’ll also see Kea and Kaka soaring overhead, tomtits, tui, stitchbirds and bellbirds ringing through the morning chorus.

The waters are home to local pods of bottlenose dolphins within Doubtful as well as Dusky Sound. At the start of summer humpback whales can be seen to travel down the West Coast on the way to their summer feeding grounds and big pods of Dusky Dolphins also feed just off the coast. Later in the summer Tuna take the same route and together with Kingfish become a common sight. New Zealand Fur Seals are found all along the coast and right into the Fiords. And I haven’t even mentioned the macro life. With so much to be explained and discovered you’re either welcome to do your homework before you come on board or let us explain things in context as we journey through the fiords. In the meantime you’re welcome to explore a little further through the documentary link below.

mirror world

experience and explore pure wilderness..

We look forward to having you onboard with us.