Mountains? Rain forests? Fjords? New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park has them all.

Key Summit is one of many hiking trails — or as locals call them, tracks — that crisscross the South Island near Milford Sound, the green gemstone atop New Zealand’s wilderness crown. Milford Sound sits within Fiordland National Park, which in turn is part of Te Wahipounamu — South West New Zealand, a UNESCO World Heritage site that covers 10 percent of the country’s landmass.

Milford Sound’s mountains, rain forests and its fjord draw more than 500,000 visitors each year. Many of them are tour bus day-trippers from neighboring Te Anau or Queenstown who take a quick boat cruise, snap photos and head back to town. A landing strip and helipad accommodate sightseers who forgo the drive and whiz in and out. One lodge is available to those who prefer to stay a little longer.

To reach Milford Sound, depart Te Anau, a nearby lakeside town, and hit the road: the Milford Road, or State Highway 94, which is the only land-based route. Leave before sunrise to allow enough time to make a 9 a.m. Milford Sound cruise departure.

The nearly 75-mile journey stretches toward cloud-ringed mountains that glow pink in the predawn light. Fog drapes over lowland pastures, and yellow wildflowers frame the road. As you pass the Fiordland National Park entrance, the road twists through an enchanted fairyland of red beech forests and golden grasslands draped in stalky wild lupines. The Livingstone and Earl mountain ranges loom closer with every mile.

After many stops to gawk at the natural drama, you reach the nearly mile-long Homer Tunnel, which passes through a mountain into the Milford Sound area. The world’s only alpine parrots are highly intelligent and seem to hang around parking lots solely to tease camera-snapping tourists and dismantle their vehicles.

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