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5 curious creatures you might meet in Milford Sound

Date: 5 December 2019

Milford Sound is unlike anywhere else in the world. As you weave your way down the famous Milford Road towards the coast on an adventure of a lifetime, the mountains grow steeper, the forests denser and the feeling wilder. The atmosphere in Fiordland is almost prehistoric, and it’s no wonder very little settlements ever existed here. Because of its harsh and remote landscape, Fiordland has long been one of the last bastions of pre-human New Zealand, with native bush and wildlife that have disappeared from the rest of the country. It’s one of the best places to get a glimpse of some of New Zealand’s greatest creatures, so here’s who to look out for on your trip down to Milford Sound.

1. The Kea

“Keaaaaa keaaaaaa keaaaaa!” you might hear the mighty shriek of the kea before you see it down in Fiordland. The world’s only alpine parrot, the kea, is a New Zealand favorite, mostly because of how fun and cheeky they are. Incredibly intelligent, they love to play and will eat anything they can, including the rubber off your car windows or even your shoes. Milford Sound is one of the best places you have the chance of seeing them in the wild here, as they generally live at higher altitudes.

Kea in midflight

2. New Zealand fur seal

On a cruise around Milford Sound, you’ll likely see plenty of fur seals playing in the waters and hauled out on the rocky coastline sunbathing. It’s surprising that all that long ago their populations were almost wiped out by hunters, but now they are coming back and it’s super exciting to see them in the wilds of Milford.

Seal on a rock in Doubtful Sound

3. Fiordland crested penguin

One of New Zealand’s rarest penguins, the Fiordland crested penguin is one of the most beautiful and elusive creatures you might be lucky enough to meet in Milford Sound. Highly endangered and in decline, there are probably only a couple thousand pairs left in New Zealand, but if you keep your eyes peeled, you might see them swimming around Milford as they go out to sea for the day to feed, with their busy yellow eyebrow feathers being a dead giveaway. You might also get a glimpse of the smallest penguin, the little blue penguin swimming along as well.

Group of penguins on rocks in Doubtful Sound

4. Lots of dolphins

Dusky and bottlenose dolphins are some of the dolphins that you might see flipping and jumping out of the water in Milford Sound on a scenic cruise. Playful and intelligent, it makes for a real treat to catch a glimpse of them swimming alongside the boats.

Dolphin jumping from the water in Doubtful Sound with small waterfall in background

5. Orca and whales

Now if all the stars align and you are exceptionally lucky, you might even see a whale or orca in Milford, as they have been known to swim inside the fiord which is very deep and teeming with food. Pilot whales, orca, and southern right whales are some of the beautiful creatures that hang out around New Zealand’s coastal waters in Fiordland.

Book your Milford Sound cruise here. RealNZ has day and overnight cruises available departing from Milford Sound Visitor Centre as well as coach transfers from Te Anau and Queenstown. 

About the author: Liz

Liz Carlson is the creator behind Young Adventuress, one of the biggest travel blogs in the world. An American based in the mountains of Wanaka and always on adventures around New Zealand, she is passionate about Instagram, strong coffee, and saving the kākāpō.

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