Fiordland National Park
Fiordland is the largest national park in New Zealand and also one of the largest in the world. It was formed from intense heat and pressure deep in the earth's crust about 500 million years ago causing the formation of gneiss, schist and granite rocks. Over the last two million years glaciers have at times covered the area, creating U-shaped valleys, many of which are now lakes or fiords.
Fiordland frequently get’s strong Westerlies often with rain and snow. In fact the annual rainfall varies from 1200mm in Te Anau to 8000mm in Milford Sound. Rain falls in Fiordland on over 200 days each year.
Vegetation and Wildlife
Much of Fiordland’s forest clings to steep faces of hard rock covered only by a thin layer of rich, peaty humus and moss. Tree avalanches are common.
Common vegetation that you may see are:-
- Beech trees – mainly the Silver Beech
- Rimu and Miro
- Tree ferns
- Mosses and
Fiordland is home to several threatened native animals.
Home of the Pukeko and the last mainland stronghold for the Fiordland Kākāpō, a nocturnal flightless parrot, which was driven to the edge of extinction by introduced predators. An extensive recovery programme on a number of predator-free offshore islands has successfully increased the population from 50-86 over the past few years.
You may also get to see yellow-crowned parakeets, robins, Kākā, long-tailed bats and a recently discovered colony of short-tailed bats.
Blue ducks and southern crested grebes are also found on Fiordland lakes and streams. And since the removal of rats the rare Fiordland skink may also be seen along with introduced animals such as mice, rats, stoats, hares, deer and possums.
Visitors are likely to see the common forest birds like tomtits, brown creepers, grey warblers, fantails, tūī, bellbirds and native pigeons. Brown kiwi are reasonably common not to mention the inquisitive mountain parrot, the kea.
Fiordland’s Marine Life
The marine environment of Fiordland is as unique as its land areas. The very heavy rainfall of the region creates a permanent freshwater layer above the sea water in the fiords.
It is home to sponges, corals and fish of sub-tropical, cool water and deep water varieties. The fiords support the world’s biggest population of black coral trees of about seven million colonies, some of them up to 200 years old.
Bottlenose dolphins, fur seals, Fiordland crested penguins and little blue penguins are resident in the fiords and something you are likely to see if you are doing a trip with Deep Cove Charters.
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