What’s the difference between a Sound and a Fjord? We didn’t know either, but we found out today while we cruised through these 3 sounds. A Sound is created by a river and a Fjord is created by a glacier. When these 3 sounds were discovered, they were mistakenly named a Sound because it was thought they had been created by a river. However, they were really created by huge glaciers, which carved through the rocks to create the dramatic rock formations of the mountains there.
Being springtime in New Zealand, it is misty and overcast. We sailed . . . s-l-o-w-l-y . . . into Milford Sound, then Doubtful Sound and finally into Dusky Sound. They are uniquely known as Fiordland National Park.
Milford Sound is a fiord in the southwest of New Zealand’s South Island. It’s known for towering Mitre Peak, plus rainforests and waterfalls like Stirling and Bowen falls, which plummet down its sheer sides. The fiord is home to fur seal colonies, penguins and dolphins.
Doubtful Sound / Patea is a very large and naturally imposing fiord in Fiordland, in the far south west of New Zealand. It is located in the same region as the smaller but more famous and accessible Milford Sound. It took second place after Milford Sound as New Zealand’s most famous tourism destination. At 42 kilometres (26 mi) long, Doubtful Sound is the longest, and with a depth of up to 421 metres (1,381 ft) also the deepest of the South Island’s fiords. In comparison with Milford Sound, it is more widespread, with the cliffs not as dramatically tall and near vertical. However, the U-shaped profile of the fiord is obvious, in particular on the two innermost of the main fiord’s arms and the hanging side valleys along the main fiord. Like most of Fiordland, Doubtful Sound receives a high amount of rainfall, ranging from an annual average of 3,000–6,000 millimetres (120–240 in). The vegetation on the mountainous landscape surrounding the fiord is dense native rainforest.
One of the most complex of the many fiords on this coast, Dusky Sound is also one of the largest, 40 kilometres in length and eight kilometres wide at its widest point. To the north of its mouth is the large Resolution Island, whose Five Fingers Peninsula shelters the mouth of the sound from the northwest; along the east coast of the island, Acheron passage connects Dusky Sound with Breaksea Sound, to the north. Several large islands lie in the sound, notably Anchor Island, Long Island, and Cooper Island. The upper reaches of the sound are steep-sided, and the high precipitation of the region leads to hundreds of waterfalls cascading into the sound during the rainy season. Seals and dolphins are often sighted in the sound’s waters and occasionally visited by whales where the area especially nearby Preservation Inlet was one of earliest shore-based whaling ground for southern right whales, while humpback whales show sudden increases. The Seaforth River is the largest of many small rivers and creeks which flow into the sound.
Next . . . we sail to Dunedin, NZ.