The Fiordland natural wildlife here is abundant . Seals, dolphins and penguins can all be spotted from above the water on your scenic Fiordland Discovery luxury day cruise, while rare black coral, lobsters and schools of fish can be viewed as the boat’s ROV, weather and time permitting.
Milford Sound is home to thousands of rock lobsters living in the caves and crevices of the rocky cliffs that form the underwater fiord. They grow up to 60 centimetres in length, live for over seventy years and survive on shellfish, crabs, small fish and sea urchins.
Fiordland is home to the New Zealand fur seal (Kekeno). Although almost hunted to extinction in the 1800s, New Zealand now boasts approximately 80,000 fur seals, with a small population based permanently in Milford Sound. The bull seal can reach a staggering 2.5-metres long and weigh as much as 185 kilograms. The cow seal is much smaller – generally measuring 1.5 metres and weighing 50 kilograms. Breeding takes place in spring (September-November) in a fiercely-guarded breeding territory, and cows birth in December. Pups then stay with their mothers for nearly a year. They are sustained by squid and octopus, and can dive up to 200 metres in their search for food.
The most famous of birds that inhabit the fiord is the rare and captivating Fiordland crested penguin. The only penguin to breed exclusively in New Zealand, it is found mainly in Fiordland and Stewart Island and is most often seen near the entrance of Milford Sound. Here you may also spot native New Zealand falcons, white-faced herons, white herons, cattle egrets, a variety of shags and the common black-backed gull.
Out in the Tasman Sea we frequently see Albatross including the Royal Albatross which has the longest wingspan in the world.
Bottlenose dolphins often make an appearance – if we’re lucky! These beautiful mammals can be up to four metres in length, and feature grey backs, white bellies and an unmistakable hooked dorsal fin. They are the largest dolphins in the world.
Sponges, shellfish, starfish, anemones and urchins can also be viewed via our ROV (remote operated vehicle i.e. submarine drone), as well as a diverse range of fish and sharks. We are the first operators in Fiordland to offer this incredible opportunity to experience, first hand, live footage of life beneath the surface. (If weather conditions limit the operation of the video, we will offer recorded footage from previous trips.)