Fiordland is the name for the south-western region of the South Island, most of which is covered by the Fiordland National Park. It is the largest national park in NZ (1,251,924 ha) and one of the largest in the world. It was established as 'Sounds National Park' in 1952 and given its present name in 1955.
The spectacular fiords along the coast of this corner of the South Island are awesomely beautiful and have been written about by writers from many parts of the world, especially Milford Sound with its spectacular Mitre Peak.
The region is rugged and isolated but the Homer Tunnel, opened in 1953, gives road access from the Upper Hollyford Valley through to Milford Sound.
The park includes Lake Manapouri, Lake Te Anau, Sutherland Falls and the Milford Track (once described by writer, Blanche Baughan, as 'the finest walk in the world'). Certain areas within the park contain indigenous flora and fauna of such significance that access is by permit only.
Other areas have been classified as 'wilderness' (access by foot only), 'natural environment' (to remain predominantly as they are but with bridges and huts available) and 'facilities areas' (where controlled development is allowed).
There are tourist hotels at Manapouri, Te Anau and Milford Sound, and other accommodation facilities, from motels to huts to camping sites, at many places through the park.