Fiordland National Park [ ], covering over 1.2 million hectares, is New Zealand 's largest National Park and one of the largest in the world. The park, together with the adjoining Mount Aspiring National Park , occupies the south west corner of the South Island and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Fiordland is one of the least explored areas of New Zealand. Although the park has about 500 km of formed walking tracks, these barely scratch the surface.
Like all of the New Zealand National Parks, it is managed by the Department of Conservation. The department aims to keep development to a minimum, consistent with protecting the environment and managing human activities to minimise conflicting needs. There are relatively few restrictions on individual visitors, though commercial activity is carefully, (some might say strictly), controlled.
The main visitor information centre is in Te Anau. There are Park Ranger outposts at major visitor locations. Visitors intending to stay in the park overnight are advised to inform the park rangers of their intentions. In the event of an emergency, these intentions will be used as part of any Search and Rescue operation.
The weather in the park can change dramatically over the space of a few hours and over a few kilometres. Visitors should always be prepared for rain. The park has over 200 rain days per year, though different parts of the park receive widely different rainfalls. Te Anau, with 1200mm (40 inches) annual rainfall is almost as dry as much of the eastern South Island, while Milford Sound, with 8000mm (320 inches) annual rainfall, is truly rainforest and waterfall territory.
The area is so remote and unexplored that some speculate that species thought extinct in New Zealand may still live in the park. The Takahe, a flightless bird previously thought extinct, was discovered in a remote part of the park in 1948.
Additionally, the kākāpo, the world's only flightless parrot, was found in to have survived by retreating into the fiordland. Since its re-discovery, a recovery project has been started using offshore islands that do not have any of the pests that have threatened its survival.
Sandflies, or namu, are an obvious (and annoying) demonstration of the insect life that inhabits the area.
Fly, bus, walk or boat
While in Fiordland you may notice the presence of aircraft. Aircraft are an essential part of the Fiordland National Park scene. The main way in which DOC carrys out its duties in the park including pest control is with the use of aircraft. If you are walking one of the tracks The only reason you are able to walk the track is because the aircraft service the track and remove every bit of waste you generate including toilet waste. As there are no roads all lodge, track maintenance and building is enabled by aircraft and all supplies to the lodges are flown in. If you injure yourself so you can't continue or you go missing aircraft are the only practical method to carry out search and rescue. For many people the only way they can access the park is by aircraft either because of lack of time, age or infirmity. The other important consideration is that aircraft make the least real environmental impact of any of the users of the park.
You could, of course, choose more luxurious (and managed) accommodation in Te Anau, Manapouri or Milford Sound
You can walk,bus or boat. Contact any I site in the area for transport options.
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Claus Hansen, Robert Rutherford, Todd VerBeek, Stacy Hall, Colin Jensen and Ian Kirk, Vidimian, DorganBot, WindHorse, Nikai, Huttite and Hypatia
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