Milford Sound
Image: Shellie Evans © 


Piopiotahi (Milford Sound) Marine Reserve is one of the most popular places in Fiordland to dive and see the black corals for which the fiords are famous.

Coastal Gems logo.

Things to do

Guided activities

  • Real Journeys – for the ultimate Milford Sound experience, spend the night aboard the Mariner.
  • Descend Scuba Diving  – provide guided diving for all levels of experience from first time diver to experienced professionals.
  • Southern Discoveries  –  in the middle of Piopiotahi Marine Reserve, the Underwater Observatory enables you to experience a world previously only available to divers.


Diving is the best way to explore this magnificent marine reserve. While in the water you may see stingrays, crayfish, octopus, seals sharks and over 100 other fish species. 

Nature and conservation

The reserve’s name, Piopiotahi, means 'one native thrush'. The piopio (now thought to be extinct) was a ground-feeding bird that declined rapidly after the introduction of mammalian predators such as stoats and rats.

The reserve was established in 1993. It spans 16 km in length and covers an area of 690 hectares. The underwater habitats it covers are mostly deep muddy fiord basin, with a large section of deep reef and a small section of shallow rock wall along the shore.

There is very steep rock-wall on the inner northern side of Milford Sound which is dominated by delicate deep water invertebrates. These are animals that are fixed to the rock wall, including encrusting tubeworms, sponges, soft corals, colonial sea squirts, black coral and anemones.

On the Tasman Sea side divers can often get surrounded by schools of butterfly perch, hundreds of rock lobster and numerous reef fish. Octopus, stingrays, seals and occasional bottlenose dolphin also live in these waters. 

Video clip about Piopiotahi (Milford Sound) from Protecting our seas DVD

Getting there

The Piopiotahi Marine Reserve is situated along the northern side of Milford Sound, stretching from the village of Milford Sound to Dale Point, where it meets the Tasman Sea.

View a map of Piopiotahi (Milford Sound) Marine Reserve

Know before you go

  • Don’t remove any natural resource, for example any living or dead marine life, shells, rocks, wood or seaweed.
  • No dumping rubbish or any other matter, or feed the fish.
  • No feeding fish by crack opening kina (sea urchins).


Te Rua-o-te-moko / Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre
Phone:   +64 3 249 7924
Address:   Fiordland National Park
Visitor Centre
Lakefront Drive
Te Anau 9600
Full office details
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