Fiordland National Park

From Academic Kids

Missing image
Milford Sound: Mitre Peak, the mountain at left, rises 1692 meters above the Sound.

Fiordland National Park occupies the southwest corner of the South Island of New Zealand, an area known as Fiordland. It is the largest national park in New Zealand (12,500 km2), and a major part of the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage site.

Fiordland National Park is popular for tramping, alpine climbing and tourism and the popular attraction of Milford Sound is within the park boundary. The park is administered by the Department of Conservation.

Prevailing westerly winds blow moist air from the Tasman Sea onshore here into the mountains; the cooling of this air as it rises produces a prodigious amount of rainfall, exceeding seven metres in many parts of the park. This supports the lush temperate rain forests of the Fiordland temperate forests ecoregion.

The park is one of the world's most popular destinations for tramping, with the Milford, Hollyford and Routeburn Tracks all found within or close to the park.


Geographical features

During the cooler past, glaciers carved many deep fiords into this mountainous region, the most famous (and most visited) of which is Milford Sound. Notable fiords along the coast include Doubtful Sound and Dusky Sound.

Fiordland's coast is steep and crenellated, with the fiords running in to valleys of the southern ranges of the Southern Alps, such as the Kepler and Murchison Mountains. At the northern end of the park, several peaks rise to above 2000 metres.

At several points, islands have been carved from the mainland by the action of ice, leaving two large uninhabited offshore islands, Secretary Island and Resolution Island. Further inland, several large lakes lie wholly or partly within the park's boundaries, notably Lake Te Anau, Lake Manapouri, Lake Monowai, Lake Hauroko, and Lake Poteriteri. The Sutherland Falls, to the southwest of Milford Sound on the Milford Track, are among the world's highest waterfalls.

Public access

Road access to Fiordland is restricted to one highway that runs east to Te Anau and from there turns north, skirting the edge of the park before entering it close to the headwaters of the Eglinton River. From there it crosses the nortwest corner of the park, reaching its terminus at Milford Sound. South of Te Anau a smaller road links to Manapouri. A minor road also links Doubtful Sound with the western edge of Lake Manapouri.

Light aircraft and helicopter services link with Milford Sound, which also has a small boat marina.

Helicopter hunting

As long ago as the 1920s, the park was plagued with introduced European deer, detrimentally to the native New Zealand fauna. The government placed a bounty on the deer, paying local hunters for each animal removed from the park. Combined with the market for venison and deerskin, by the 1960s, this had proved a lucrative enough business that several hunters invested in helicopters, the better to travel through this rugged landscape. Deer populations plummeted as a result, and competition among hunters grew more fierce. Arguments between men armed with helicopters and high-powered rifles resulted in more than one pitched battle mid-air over the park. The government soon stepped in to prevent such extremes; combined with a growing farm-raised deer industry, helicopter hunting declined steeply in more recent years. However, its legacy lives on, as dozens upon dozens of former hunting helicopters these days carry tourists on sight-seeing aerial journeys.

See also

External links


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