In this incredible photograph by Trey Ratcliff @ Stuck in Customs, we see the dramatic entrance to the world famous Milford Sound Fjord in the south west of New Zealand’s South Island. Located within Fiordland National Park, Piopiotahi (Milford Sound) Marine Reserve, and the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage site, it has been judged the world’s top travel destination in an international survey (the 2008 Travelers’ Choice Destinations Awards by TripAdvisor) and is acclaimed as New Zealand’s most famous tourist destination.
Milford Sound runs 15 kilometres inland from the Tasman Sea at Dale Point – the mouth of the fiord – and is surrounded by sheer rock faces that rise 1,200 metres (3,900 ft) or more on either side. Among the peaks are The Elephant at 1,517 metres (4,977 ft), said to resemble an elephant’s head, and The Lion, 1,302 metres (4,272 ft), in the shape of a crouching lion.
Milford Sound sports two permanent waterfalls all year round, Lady Bowen Falls and Stirling Falls. After heavy rain however, many hundreds of temporary waterfalls can be seen running down the steep sided rock faces that line the fiord. They are fed by rain water drenched moss and will last a few days at most once the rain stops.
Geologically, a fjord is a long, narrow inlet with steep sides or cliffs, created in a valley carved by glacial activity. The word comes to English from Norwegian, but related words are used in several Scandinavian languages – in many cases to refer to any long narrow body of water, rather than the more specific meaning it has in English.