Milford Sound is a fjord in the south west of New Zealand's South Island, within Fiordland National Park and the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage site. It has been judged the world's top travel destination in an international survey, and is acclaimed as New Zealand's own most famous tourist destination. Rudyard Kipling had previously called it the eighth Wonder of the World.
The beauty of this landscape draws thousands of visitors each day, with over 550,000 in total per year. This makes the sound one of New Zealand's most-visited tourist spots, and also the most famous New Zealand tourist destination, even with its remote location and the long journey from the nearest population centers. Almost all tourists going to the sound also take one of the boat tours which usually last between 1-2 hours. They are offered by several companies, departing from the Milford Sound Visitors' Centre. There is also the option of extended overnight cruises on Milford Sound. Tramping (New Zealand English for hiking or backpacking), canoeing and some other water sports are also possible. A small number of companies also provides overnight boat trips. There is otherwise only limited accommodation at the sound, and only a very small percentage of tourists stay more than the day. An underwater tourist observatory found in one of the bays of the sound provides viewing of black coral, usually only found in much deeper waters. A dark surface layer of fresh water, stained by tannins from the surrounding forest, allows the corals to grow close to the surface here.