After Dunedin, we spent the next day at sea cruising through the Fiordland region, which is in the SW corner of New Zealand’s South Island. The ship took us through Dusky Sound, Doubtful Sound, Milford Sound. (Although named ‘sounds’, they are actually ‘fjords/fiord’ – that is, produced by a glacier carving out a valley on the coast and then receding; or, the sea invading a glacier valley. Whereas a sound has been carved out by river action.) Actually, most of the Fiordland region is accessible only by sea or by air.

In any event, this place was incredible! Wait, let me say it again, in-cred-i-ble. Dramatic, ominous and beautiful at the same time – and pictures don’t do it justice. Waterfalls of every size, huge clouds that surrounded the mountain tops like vanilla frosting on a cupcake, gray/blue skies, dolphins swimming along the boat…everything about the place screamed “I AM NATURE!” And, although it was raining, it was such a part of the scenery that it almost would have seemed something was missing without it. In fact, the rain is essential to the region’s character and beauty. While cruising through these sounds, Celebrity had a local jump on the mic to give cruisers a commentary on the region, flora, fauna, history, etc…. It was kind of annoying, but it did give me some fodder to pass along to you all here…

Dusky Sound – one of the largest sounds at 40 km in length and 8 km at its widest section. There are several islands lying in the region that range in size, and waterfalls are everywhere thanks to the high level of precipitation.

Doubtful Sound – known as the Sound of Silence, it is also the deepest sound at 421 meters. When Captain James Cook first saw the entrance to this sound in 1770, he decided not to enter becuase he wasn’t sure whether he would be able to exit back to sea. Hence, it being later named by whalers/seales as ‘Doubtful’ Sound. Another interesting tidbit about Doubtful Sound is the water – there are 2 distinct layers and they do not mix. The top few meters is fresh water flowing out from the mountains, and the bottom layers is the cold, heavy, saline water from the sea. It was awesome to see the bottlenose dolphin swimming and playing right along the side of the cruise ship, too!

Milford Sound – probably the best-known of the sounds bringing in numbers of tourists every year. Milford Sound is also home to the stunning Mitre Peak, which towers 1,683 meters in the sky.