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While viewing the scenery in Milford Sound is an experience in itself, the fiord comes to life with regular visits from some of our favourite marine wildlife species.
On most of our cruises, you will get to spot a New Zealand Fur Seal bathing on the rocks of Copper Point or the creatively named, Seal Rock.
Nearly hunted to extinction back in 1800’s due to high demand for fur in the fashion industry, our seal populations have since recovered to now being considered to have an ‘increasing’ population in New Zealand.
This seal species prefer retreating to rocky outcrops rather than sandy beaches, which makes Milford Sound the perfect place to try and spot these beautiful creatures from your cruise.
We’ve seen the larger males, females and even seal pups swimming in the water or resting in the sunshine on a rock.
The New Zealand fur seals diet mostly consists of squid and small mid-wter fish, although they have been known to hunt larger species including the conger eels, barracuda, and hoki – sometimes diving at depths of up to 238 metres, for as long as 11 minutes at a time!
Occasionally we receive a visit from a pod of bottlenose dolphins. This is always a spectacular sight, and our small boat cruises will get you closer to them as they ride the wave of the boat – smaller passenger numbers means everyone gets a great view.
Occasionally a pod of dusky or hector dolphins may visit the Fiord, although more often than not it will be the bottlenose. This species can grow up to three metres in length and weigh up to 300 kilograms.
Their diet is made up of fish, invertebrate species and oceanic squid – diving beneath the surface for 3-4 minutes at a time.
They are quite social mammals, and are fascinated with humans – often turning their heads to the side to get a look of you on our vessel above as they are riding the waves.
Another well-loved species that can be spotted in Milford Sound is the Fiordland Crested Penguin. They breed between July and November, which is the most common time to spot them in the fiord. This penguin in considered one of the rarest in the country, so it is a great privilege if you are lucky enough to spot one.