Milford Sound: A Skipper’s Photographs

Date: 17 February 2017

"You would think that I’d seen it all by now but it doesn’t matter how often I’m here it looks different. There’s always something I haven’t seen before or the light changes and I haven’t seen it looking like that before," says Chris.

Chris takes passengers from all over the world on RealNZ Nature and Overnight Cruises in Milford Sound.

"If anyone asks me which is the best way to see Milford Sound I always tell them to do the Overnight Cruise. The best thing about it is that we have the fiord to ourselves, there’s something magic about that. One of my photos shows my favourite time of day when passengers have been out on kayaks or a small boat and are enjoying evening drinks just before dinner. It’s time to relax."

When Chris first started taking photographs they tended to be of people, but he’s become increasingly interested in Milford Sound’s scenery and wildlife.

"Dolphins are incredibly hard to photograph. I’ve taken literally thousands of photos of them over the years and there’s only a couple that I’m proud of. I’ve only seen dusky dolphins in February when the water’s warmer. They come in their hundreds to feed at the entrance to the fiord. There seems to be a bit of tension between them and the bottlenose dolphins."

Seals are in Milford Sound all year round and Chris says they’re more playful when dolphins are about but dolphins take no notice. One of his photographs is of a baby seal on the Milford Mariner.

We often find one or two seals camping on the stern deck while on the mooring, totally unafraid of the attention they receive

Chris Hishon - Skipper - RealNZ

Chris has photographed hundreds of birds from mollymawks to rare Fiordland crested penguins and a kotuku (white heron) that visits Milford Sound every year.
"The white heron usually sit on the wharf and look at their reflection in the paint of the boat or sit on the boat and look at their reflection in the window. This year it stayed on board for a whole cruise –that was a total surprise!"

And one surprise Chris always has in store for his passengers, is how close to the waterfalls he manoeuvres the Milford Mariner. “We sometimes even collect water for passengers to drink, which causes much amusement."

About the author: Will

Originally arriving in Queenstown for a two week holiday, 15 years later he's still here - living the dream. Working in the digital realm means he's never too far from an electronic device and when not in the office you'll find him planning DIY projects he'll never start or enjoying a cold beer with mates.

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