Murrells Grand View House

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About Fiordland National Park

Fiordland National Park (established in 1952) is a vast, remote wilderness and the heart of Te Wāhipounamu - South West New Zealand World Heritage Area in New Zealand's South Island.

Fiordland National Park is one of the great wilderness areas of the Southern Hemisphere. It is an area where snow-capped mountains, rivers of ice, deep lakes, unbroken forests and tussock grasslands produce a landscape of exceptional beauty. Some of the best examples of animals and plants, which were once found on the ancient super-continent of Gondwana, still exist here.

World heritage is a global concept that identifies natural and cultural sites of world significance - places so special that protecting them is of concern to all people.


   What makes the South West of New Zealand a World Heritage Area?

  • Rocks, plants and animals which take us back 80 million years to a time when New Zealand was part of the ancient super continent Gondwana.
  • Spectacular ice carved fiords, lakes and valleys – amongst the finest examples of glaciated landforms in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • From mountain to sea, landscapes of untouched beauty.
  • A stronghold for rare plants and animals living in a range of habitats.
  • Much of the park is covered with ancient and mature stands of southern beech and podocarp trees. The kea, an alpine parrot lives in the park, as does the rare and endangered takahe, a large flightless bird. Within this area there are three endemic taxon of kiwi; rowi, Haast tokoeka and Fiordland tokoeka, the first two of which are the most endangered varieties of kiwi in New Zealand

Human activity has been limited in Fiordland but there were always some who were willing to endure adversity in the search for new places or resources.  European  settlement was hampered by the steepness of the terrain, isolation and the wettest climate in New Zealand.  Early Māori people hunted birds here and caught fish from the sea and gathered pounamu (New Zealand jade) from the rivers.  Later, sealers and whalers took shelter in the fiords and built small settlements in a number of locations.

The variety of habitats in Fiordland allow a diverse flora and fauna to thrive and its isolation has encouraged endemism with over 700 plants found only in Fiordland and it is, or was, home to some of the strangest of New Zealand's birds. The takahē, for example, is a large flightless rail related to the more populous pūkeko, more commonly known throughout Australasia as the purple moorhen.  It is of ancient lineage and poorly adapted to cope with introduced predators. The takahē was thought to be extinct until it was rediscovered in 1948. 

Fiordland was also the final refuge of the worlds only flightless parrot, the nocturnal kākāpo.  A recovery project for these unique birds is now under way on a number of pest free offshore islands.  The rare mohua or yellowhead is also resident in some Fiordland valleys. Insect life abounds but is secretive in general. The exception of course is the notorious namu or sandfly and insect repellent is essential for visitor comfort.

In the 1960s and 70s Fiordland was the scene of one of New Zealand's most important conservation battles. The hydro-electricity industry was, in the end, prevented from raising the level of Lake Manapōuri and it remains one of the park's scenic highlights.

Would you like to learn more about Fiordland? Then download these great Department of Conservation fact sheets:

Fiordland National Park

Day walks in Fiordland National Park

check-availabilityFiordland Crested Penguin

Marine Reserves of Fiordland

Fiords


Murrell's Grand View House - Murrell Avenue - Manapouri - Fiordland - New Zealand - Tel: +64 3 249 6642 - Fax: +64 249 6966 - enquire@murrells.co.nz