Travel Pics Theme: U for Undulations. Pining for the Fiords …

NZ Fiordland National Park

NZ Fiordland National Park

Today’s ‘Undulations’ are in New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park.

The region, on the southwest of the Southern Island of New Zealand, features three main sounds: Doubtful, Dusky and Milford – each of which has deeply gouged fiord valleys – remnants of the glaciers which have dominated the area for millennia.

There are few roads .. in fact, most land-based visitors ‘tramp’ in (the New Zealand term for hiking).

But many others, like us, come in on cruise ships which sail the sounds for the day.

Now, I’ve called them fiords, and I’ve called them sounds – so which is it?

Strictly speaking a fiord (or fjord as it’s spelled in the original Norwegian) is a long, narrow, deep inlet of the sea between high cliffs, typically formed by submergence of a glaciated valley.

On the other hand, a sound is a large sea or ocean inlet larger than a bay, deeper than a bight, and wider than a fjord – and formed by a river valley.

So the sounds in Fiordland National Park can’t be fiords can they?

Well, actually they can – because they were misnamed as sounds in the first place.

Milford, the most famous of the Fiordland Sounds, was named Milford Haven in 1812 by a Welsh ship’s captain – and was renamed Milford Sound about 40 years later by another European explorer – who wrongly believed that it was the result of river erosion rather than glaciation.

The same holds true for Dusky Sound and Doubtful Sound – the latter was originally named Doubtful Harbour because Captain Cook thought it was “Doubtful” the valley could be navigated effectively.

In fact, there are around half a million visitors to the Fiordland National Park each year, to gaze at the waterfalls, and deep channels- and cliff walls and peaks that rise to two kilometres high.

This particular photo is in Doubtful Sound, the second of three sounds we cruised that day on the Carnival Spirit – and the view is just gobsmacking.

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