Milford Sound, a fjord, sits within Fiordland National Park in the southwest of New Zealand’s South Island. The park is part of Te Wahipounamu, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
In Māori legend, Milford Sound was formed by Tu-te-raki-whanoa. He was an atua (godly figure) who was in charge of shaping the Fiordland coast. Chanting a powerful karakia (prayer), he hacked at the towering rock walls with his toki (adze) called Te Hamo and carved it from the earth.
The Māori name for Milford Sound, Piopiotahi, means “a single piopio”. When the legendary hero Maui died trying to win immortality for his beloved people, a piopio (a long-extinct native bird) was said to have flown here in mourning.
Milford Sound attracts between 550,000 and 1 million visitors per year. This makes the sound one of New Zealand’s most-visited tourist spots.