How to survive Fiordland!

7 Oct 2022

Guest Blog - Madeleine Peacock

The top 3 most important things to consider when visiting Fiordland…by someone who has lived here for 40+ years!

I have worked for Trips & Tramps for about 7 years now, I’ve lived in Fiordland most of my life and have met a lot of people who have loved visiting this amazing part of the world.  Here are some top tips for navigating your way through some of the more ‘interesting’ aspects of a visit to Fiordland…

Sandflies! 

In North America they have the ‘no see-ums’, in Australia they have mozzies, in NZ we have sandflies!  These are small, biting insects that are usually found in the forest or near water.  Their bite leaves a small itchy bump which usually lasts a day or two.  I am often asked “how bad are the sandflies in Fiordland?”.  It depends on when and where you visit.  Sandflies like warm, humid weather, they don’t like rain, wind or cold.  So, if you’re visiting in the summer you can expect to encounter more.  But the most critical factor to the annoyance of sandflies is your own state of mind!  Getting stressed about them only seems to make the problem worse.  I have found that the best approach to dealing with sandflies is to accept that you’re going to encounter them, know that they might be a bit annoying, you might get a little itchy but to just ignore them.  It’s a small price to pay to visit one of the most spectacular places on earth.  Come prepared with a skin and environmentally friendly bug spray, some antihistamine cream, you can also get bug nets, and bring a good attitude and you’ll be just fine!

bare hand placed on grey legs with small black sandflies

Make peace with the sandflies at Milford Sound and enjoy the beautiful views!

Long-drops!

This is the kiwi description of the sort of toilet you will encounter in the outdoors in NZ, usually in National Parks or conservation areas.  Given NZ’s remote terrain it isn’t feasible to have flush toilets and running water at every location.  A long-drop is simply an enclosed toilet over a hole in the ground.  There is usually toilet paper provided – but not always.  When you are in the outdoors in NZ it is best to be prepared with some tissue paper and hand sanitiser (not wet-wipes – these are a disaster for composting toilet!).  You’ll soon get used to making quick toilet stops as the smell will incentivise you to get in and out without taking a breath! 

sign and toilet in bush clearing under trees

Loos with views, the long -rop toilet can be found in the most scenic places off the beaten track.

Kea!

NZ is home to the world’s only mountain parrot, the kea.  This bird will amaze you with its intelligence, dazzle you with it’s surprising orange wing feathers and if it gets into your gear or onto your vehicle it will drive you mad with its destructive beak and claws!  At Trips & Tramps we are regularly replacing radio aerials, windscreen wipers and door seals which have fallen prey to these cheeky creatures.  The Milford Road is the best place to see kea.  If you are travelling by private vehicle, then be careful not to leave doors open and gear around.  You also need to be careful at carparks and when stopping on the road as the kea are susceptible to being run over – and that’s not good for an endangered species.  It is also very important that you DON’T FEED any of NZs birds.  Our food is not good for them and feeding them encourages negative interactions with people – they are wild animals and need to fend for themselves.  But if you have time to spend watching the kea you will be rewarded with their clown-like antics and beautiful colours.

green parrot on vehicle roof with cascading rain in background over cliffs

Milford Road kea like to use our vehicles as a perch and a play gym! Credit Douglas Thorne

Fiordland Survival Kit

Here are some must-haves for your visit to Fiordland

  • Insect repellent – choose something skin and enviro friendly
  • Antihistamine cream for bug bites
  • Hand sanitiser and toilet tissue (no wet wipes!)
  • Layers of clothing – that way you can be prepared for all weather!
  • A decent raincoat
  • Take a tour!  Not only does this help support a local business it also means you get the benefit of the inside knowledge that a local guide can give.  In Fiordland it also means you won’t be sacrificing your rental vehicle to the kea! 

Need more help for you time in Fiordland, feel free to contact us, we know the ins and outs!

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