Rainforest hike near Milford Sound/Piopiotahi in New Zealand
© Jim Patterson/Tandem Stills + Motio
The ‘eighth wonder’?. Milford Sound/Piopiotahi rainforest
Today we’re on New Zealand’s South Island to visit a fjord that Rudyard Kipling once called the eighth wonder of the world, Milford Sound and its surrounding rainforest. Tramping, New Zealand-speak for hiking, is incredibly popular at Milford Sound. Nearly a million tourists visit the area every year, despite its remoteness. It is known for its beauty and abundance of wildlife, with plentiful sightings of dolphins, humpback whales and native Fiordland penguins.
Since 1998, Milford Sound is one of about 90 places in New Zealand to officially have a dual name, joining its former European name with the Indigenous Māori name. Now known as Milford Sound/Piopiotahi, the Māori named the area after the extinct piopio bird.
According to myth, the Māori hero, Māui, died during his quest to win immortality for mankind. A single piopio flew into the fjord to mourn him. This bird was memorialised in the name, as the Māori word ‘tahi’ means ‘one’. The Māori people first travelled to the area centuries ago to hunt and fish. They also collected the precious pounamu (greenstone) used for trade, carving and weaponry.