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.

Things to do


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. 

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

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