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.
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 covers an area of 690 hectares along the northern side of Milford Sound, from the head of the Sound to Dale Point.
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 sessile invertebrates. These are animals that are fixed to the rock wall, including encrusting tubeworms, sponges, soft corals, colonial sea squirts, black coral and anemones.
This area of Milford Sound only rarely receives direct sunlight.