Te Wahipounamu

Te Wahipounamu

Te Wahipounamu - South West New Zealand is thought to contain some of the best modern representations of the original flora and fauna present in Gondwanaland.

They include kiwis, ‘bush’ moas, carnivorous Powelliphanta land snails and the endangered takahe. The area contains New Zealand’s highest mountains, longest glaciers, tallest forests, wildest rivers and gorges, most ruggesd coastline and deepest fiords and lakes.

The site incorporates four National Parks, plus the intervening land:

  • Aoraki/Mt Cook
  • Fiordland
  • Mt Aspiring
  • Westland

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Community Reviews

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Gary Arndt

USA - 15-Mar-17 -

Te Wahipounamu by Gary Arndt

I visited Te Wahipounamu in July of 2007.

Te Wahipounamu is the Maori word for what is the fjordlands area in the southwest corner of the South Island of New Zealand. This includes the famous Milford and Doubtful Sounds.

I did a tour of Milford Sound and had the pleasure of going immediately after it had rained for 24-hours. Water was flowing down the sides of the fjord in hundreds of small waterfalls, and the large waterfalls were going at full flow.

Visiting can usually be done on a day trip from Queenstown, but you can also stay in the region to do and experience more.

Read more about Te Wahipounamu on my website.

Michael Turtle

Australia - 26-Jan-16 -

Te Wahipounamu by Michael Turtle

The hardest thing about this WHS is knowing where to start... and where to stop. It's not just enormous in terms of area, it has such an incredible amount of diversity. In some ways, it could easily be split into a few different World Heritage Sites, because each area has such unique aspects.

As a visitor, I think the best thing is to hire a car and take your time driving along the coast over a number of days, stopping for different walks and viewpoints.

One of the highlights (for me) was the glaciers - particularly Fox and Franz Josef. The sad things is that they are receding so quickly at the moment. Part of that is just the natural ebb and flow but the human-caused climate change is also having a big effect. I wonder how long they will last. Will there be a generation soon that won't be able to see this?!

Read more from Michael Turtle here.

Tom McSherry

New Zealand - 25-Jan-16 -

As a local who has completed two full tours of the country, I have to say there is no other part which quite creates the sense of travelling into the prehistoric past the way Te Wahipounamu does.

It's so simple to find a quiet spot where you can contemplate how little the landscape has changed here over the aeons, to get some perspective on how damaging the presence of humans is - and how important it is to ensure areas like this remain free of that damage. Then there is just the sheer, raw natural beauty of the place - it's a cliche to say it leaves me speechless, but that truly is the effect.

Read more from Tom McSherry here.

John booth

New Zealand - 14-May-10 -

Te Wahipounamu by John Booth

I was enraptured when I read the reviews already on this page.

In April I made the 1000 km journey to the bottom of the South Island. This is the real New Zealand, far removed from the city life that I endure in Auckland.

Most people travel to these remote areas by car, but if you are travelling alone, or feel that is too un-green, be assured that I toured the whole area from and back to Christchurch by local bus and train services. Because of the tortuous nature of the roads there I would recommend this as it allows you watch the scenery instead of the road.

From Christchurch there are direct bus services to Te Anau, Queenstown, Mount Cook and Greymouth, as well as the scenic rail link to Greymouth that I used.

From Te Anau there are several services to Milford which connect there with boat trips up the Sound.

From Queenstown there are bus services to Te Anau (for Fiordland), to Glenorchy and Wanaka (for Mount Aspiring), to Fox and Franz Joseph Glaciers (for Westland) and onwards to Greymouth.

For the more energetic there are walks on the Milford and Routeburn tracks that lead through the Fiordland and Mount Aspiring National Parks respectively.

Emilia Bautista King

U.S.A. - 27-Feb-06 -

Ah, New Zealand! I travelled for 3 1/2 weeks on both North and South Islands. Fiordland National Park is stunning but watch out for those keas (alpine parrots) that will tear their beaks into anything in their path, including your car! I took a boat tour on Milford Sound and felt like Jacques Cousteau. The waterfalls were beautiful and what a thrill it was to see seals on the rocks! On the boat, I went fishing for the first time with a makeshift rod that the boat crew gave me. Didn't catch any fish - just fed them with my bait!

Ben Pastore


In a land of superlatives, Fiordland National Park earns the highest ranking possible in all around natural beauty. My jaw hurt from repetitive dropping as we made our way to scenic Milford Sound, passing through majestic glacier-topped mountains ringed with temperate rain forest. At Milford Sound, I suggest the boat tours, as the raging waterfalls, dolphin encounters and lazing seals are best seen from this vantage point. I have traveled extensively and I do not say this lightly when I call this area the most beautiful spot on earth.


Latvia -

I am a bit surprised to see how many beautiful, world-class things Newzealanders have managed to "throw in one basket" with this monument. In fact Te Wahipounamu is quite big and extremely diverse natural area, and some other nations may be would make some five World Heritage sites out of it.

To me was a surprise to see so few people and so little development in Fiordland. Humans have managed to build here some prety good roads and some smaller cities and villages, but everything else is rugged mountains, dense coastal rainforest, incredible waterfalls, magnificent ocean - fairytale land (see "Lord of the Rings").

Site Info

Full Name
Te Wahipounamu - South West New Zealand
Unesco ID
New Zealand
7 8 9 10
Natural landscape - Glaciation Wildlife habitat - Fauna

Site History

1990 Extended

Encompasses the in 1986 inscribed parks Fjordland and Mount Cook

1986 Inscribed


The site has 1 locations

Te Wahipounamu


The site has

Individual People
WHS on Other Lists
World Heritage Process


Community Members have visited.

AC Alex Pflugfelder Alexander Parsons Andrea Gormley Andrew Wembridge Angela Vandyck Anne_Mellow Antlane Arjan Atila Ege Ben Pastore Bob Finnie Bob Parda Bodil Ankerly Bram de Bruin Buzz CalvinLoh Carlo Medina Carstenhansen Christine Swanson Clem C Colin Colossus Corinne Vail Dani Cyr Daniel Chazad Daniela Hohmann Dat Nguyen Dave wood David Gang XU Don Irwin Donald M Parrish Jr Donia Dpottenr Elaine McArdle Emilia Bautista King Erik Jelinek Eva Kisgyorgy FS Fan Yibo Felix Femke Roos Francky D'Hoop Frankwsolak Frederik Dawson Gary Arndt George Evangelou Gleembru Greg Howe Siang Tan Iain Jackson Ivan Jakob Frenzel Jaroslav Klement Jason and Corrinna Javier Coro Jeanne OGrady Jeffrey Chai Ran Jens Joachim Nölte-Baumann John booth Judith Tanner Juergen Geiger Karen Theel Kasienka5 Kevin247 Kjlchiang Lale Eralp Turkey Leckie118 Leontine Helleman Lindsay Hasluck Majkl20 Malgorzata Kopczynska Mary ann janicki Matthewgibbs Maureen Benefield Mauro Martino Michael Ayers Michael Novins Michael Turtle Michael Wasserman Michal Marciniak Mikael Bjork Mikko Milan Jirasek Mkprescott Morodhi Naim Y Nicole Kilian Nihal Ege Oscar PabloNorte Pang Liang Fong Pascal Cauliez Patrick C. Venenoso Paul Schofield Paulino Michelazzo Peter Day Ralf Regele Reza Roberto Diaz Rochelle Angus Rogerlee SL Liew Sanxu Scubarrie Shandos Cleaver Sjboyd Sliny Solivagant Squiffy Stefan Loov Steve Preddy Sutul Svermeulen Tecia Ted Barnett Thomas Buechler Timothy C Easton TonicSupernova Tony Crouch Tony0001 Trevni Tsunami Van Hung Vicente B. Avanzado Jr. Wolfgang Sander Xander Taylor Xavier b Zhao, hui Zizmondka