List of fiords of New Zealand

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Of the twelve major fiords on Fiordland's west coast, Milford Sound is the most famous.

The fiords of New Zealand are all located in the southwest of the South Island, in a mountainous area known as Fiordland. A fiord is a narrow inlet of the sea between cliffs or steep slopes, which results from marine inundation of a glaciated valley. The spelling fiord is used in New Zealand rather than fjord, although all the maritime fiords instead use the word sound in their name.

The Marlborough Sounds, a series of deep indentations in the coastline at the northern tip of the South Island, are in fact drowned river valleys, or rias. The deeply indented coastlines of Northland and Auckland also host many rias, such as the Hokianga and Waitematā Harbours.

New Zealand has fifteen named maritime fiords, listed here from northernmost to southernmost.[1]


Name Location Length Area
Milford Sound 44°38′0″S 167°53′0″E / 44.63333°S 167.88333°E / -44.63333; 167.88333 17.5 km 24 km²
Sutherland Sound 44°46′22″S 167°37′14″E / 44.77278°S 167.62056°E / -44.77278; 167.62056 10 km 11 km²
Bligh Sound 44°47′4″S 167°30′28″E / 44.78444°S 167.50778°E / -44.78444; 167.50778 18 km 21.5 km²
George Sound 44°52′36″S 167°21′48″E / 44.87667°S 167.36333°E / -44.87667; 167.36333 (George Sound) 20.5 km 31 km²
Caswell Sound 45°1′6.6″S 167°10′55.56″E / 45.018500°S 167.1821000°E / -45.018500; 167.1821000 15 km 18.5 km²
Charles Sound 45°5′0″S 167°6′49″E / 45.08333°S 167.11361°E / -45.08333; 167.11361 14 km 16 km²
Nancy Sound 45°8′44.5″S 167°4′23″E / 45.145694°S 167.07306°E / -45.145694; 167.07306 15 km 14 km²
Thompson Sound 45°13′27″S 166°58′16″E / 45.22417°S 166.97111°E / -45.22417; 166.97111 18 km 28 km²
Bradshaw Sound 45°17′0″S 167°6′3″E / 45.28333°S 167.10083°E / -45.28333; 167.10083 18.5 km 25 km²
Doubtful Sound 45°22′57″S 167°5′28″E / 45.38250°S 167.09111°E / -45.38250; 167.09111 40 km (to head of Hall Arm) 86 km²
Dagg Sound 45°23′51″S 166°48′47″E / 45.39750°S 166.81306°E / -45.39750; 166.81306 14 km 16 km²
Breaksea Sound 45°32′52″S 166°52′22″E / 45.54778°S 166.87278°E / -45.54778; 166.87278 30.5 km 50 km²
Dusky Sound 45°45′35″S 166°37′36″E / 45.75972°S 166.62667°E / -45.75972; 166.62667 40 km
Chalky Inlet 46°0′54″S 166°34′50.52″E / 46.01500°S 166.5807000°E / -46.01500; 166.5807000
Preservation Inlet 46°4′46.56″S 166°41′14.28″E / 46.0796000°S 166.6873000°E / -46.0796000; 166.6873000

Thompson Sound separates Secretary Island from the mainland and connects with Doubtful Sound and Bradshaw Sound at its inland end. The mouth of Bradshaw Sound is on Doubtful Sound approximately 12 km from the Tasman Sea.

Freshwater fiords[edit]

A number of lakes in the Fiordland and Otago regions also fill glacial valleys. Lake Te Anau has three western arms which are fiords (and are named so). Lake McKerrow to the north of Milford Sound is a fiord with a silted-up mouth. Lake Wakatipu fills a large glacial valley, as do lakes Hakapoua, Poteriteri, Monowai and Hauroko in the far south of Fiordland. Lake Manapouri has fiords as its West, North and South arms.


  1. ^ Distance measured down centreline of fiord from coastline to head of longest arm of fiord.