Pristine and massive
Fiordland national park is 1.2 million hectares of majestic, uninhabited, forested wilderness, lakes and fiords in the south west corner of New Zealand's South Island, and a World Heritage site. It is New Zealand's largest national park and is, quite simply, awesome.
Its Maori name is Ata Whenua, or Shadowland; named because of its dramatic glacial peaks and plunging valleys divided by sparkling waterfalls, and fixed under an incredible sky of rainbows, cloud formations and a trillion stars.
Fiordland is a land of unique biodiversity. Because it is a mountainous and inaccessible area, it has escaped the logging industry and provides a home for increasingly rare and beautiful native birds such as the takahe (a prehistoric-looking, and incredibly rare land bird that can't fly), and kaka and kea (beautiful, huge and noisy parrots). Its verdant forest includes towering ancient rimu and magical groves of tree ferns, orchids, mosses and lichens.
By anyone's standards, Fiordland represents nature at its most raw (and, no surprise, significant parts of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies were filmed here). In fact, it's so big and untouched that species thought to be extinct are being rediscovered, and new species are being found, such as lizards and moths.
But it is also a national park under attack. Until people arrived, the only mammals in New Zealand were bats; and the forests teemed with land birds such as the extinct, giant moa. Birds of all sizes didn't bother to fly because there were no predators. But as well as killing off the big ones for meat, early settlers also brought with them stoats, rats and mice, which eat bird eggs and birds. People also introduced deer, which trample the habitat of birds. Conservation efforts to control these pests are intensifying, but visiting Fiordland now gives you a chance to see birds that could, sadly, be extinct in the future and are down to their last hundreds. This may well be your 'last chance to see'.
The climate is as awesome as the scenery
Fiordland is world famous for its 'invigorating' climate and yes, it does sometimes rain. In an area of lakes, waterfalls, moutains and fiords, we are sure you wouldn't expect anything less. But Fiordland also has some of the cleanest air in the world, one of the lowest populations, and many long, warm summer days, and crisp, clear winter days. Fiordland is also so big that it has different climates in different places. In the west, the rainfall is above average for New Zealand. But in the east, where most of our trips are run, the rainfall is actually below average. This is because New Zealand's weather patterns tend to come from the west, and a lot of the rain drops in the fiords and on the most westerly peaks before it reaches us.
The weather is also changeable; fast. Our fronts travel through quickly, meaning bad weather can quickly be followed by good weather and our cloud patterns and rainbows are legendary. In other words, bring your wet weather gear and warm clothes, but pack your shorts too and be hopeful of sunshine. The warmest season is generally October through to April.
Just for you
Half a million international visitors experience a tiny portion of Fiordland each year from the comfort of an air conditioned coach or campervan en-route to a day cruise in the world famous fiord at Milford. Thousands of people also walk the few maintained trails in the park, such as the Milford and Routeburn Tracks. But the vast majority of the national park is empty, and only ever seen by the first Maori and western explorers, and a handful of hunters and experienced trampers. Hardly any visitors get to step off the trail to experience this untouched Fiordland; away from people, roads, and tracks. It's not easy to do it on your own, and it takes a little time.
Luckily for you, Bushbash takes you there.