Get away from the crowds and get your binoculars out on this unforgettable 8-day voyage as you discover New Zealand's remote southern backyard.
You will visit the time-forgot rawness of wildlife-rich Stewart Island/Rakiura, zodiac cruise around the rocky coast of The Snares (which is one of the world's most important nature reserves and so unique you can’t even go onshore) and experience the grand scale scenery and majesty of Fiordland firsthand.
Start in New Zealand’s third largest island, Stewart Island, and predator-free Ulva Island/Te Wharawhara. Rich in history and wildlife, the islands are home to a unique range of birdlife including the Tomtit, Rifleman, and the Stewart Island Brown Kiwi. Look for birds and enjoy the golden sandy beaches, before heading to the Snares Islands. Home to Fur Seals, and the endemic Snares crested Penguin, Cape Petrel, Buller Albatross, and more - They say there are more nesting birds on the Snares than all British Isles put together. Finish the trip exploring the lower west side of New Zealand's South Island, the remote and stunning scenery of Fiordland. Apart from the jaw-dropping scenery of ice carved mountains, verdant forests, and winding fiords, we can expect to encounter playful New Zealand Fur Seals, curious Dusky Dolphins, and elusive birds.
Flights: We offer a range of flight options to meet your cruise. Please contact us for more information.
WHY CHOOSE THIS CRUISE?
Have the chance to see a species of penguin found no-where else in the world! The Snares Crested Penguin is endemic to the Snares Islands which are some of the most untouched and pristine areas in New Zealand.
Enjoy the serenity of the Fiordland’s coast, which is only accessible by sea, making it the most remote region of New Zealand’s mainland. Apart from the stunning scenery of waterfalls, streams, rivers and fiords, you may also have the chance to spot Bottlenose Dolphins, Fiordland Crested Penguins and Little Penguins.
Stewart Island is covered in untouched bushland, as over 85 per cent is the island is a National Park. Learn about the settlement and whaling history as you explore. You may also have the chance to spot Little Penguins and the rare Yellow-eyed Penguin.
Visit the predator-free, bird sanctuary, Ulva Island, and enjoy the birdsongs as you explore the island with an experienced expedition guide who will help to name and spot the birds.
Guests should make their way to the designated hotel where we will spend the first night of the expedition. This evening there will be an informal get-together at the hotel for dinner; an excellent opportunity to meet fellow adventurers on your voyage and some of our expedition team.
Today we enjoy breakfast in the hotel restaurant and have the morning free to explore Queenstown before returning to the hotel for lunch and departing for the Port of Bluff to embark your ship. You will have time to settle into your cabin and familarise yourself with the ship; we will also take the opportunity to conduct a number of safety briefings. You are invited to join the expedition team in the Observation Lounge and up on the Observation Deck as we set our course to Stewart Island and our adventure begins.
New Zealand’s third island is well off the usual beaten tourist track. It is a wonderfully tranquil place and with 85 per cent of the island designated national park, the scenery of untouched bushland is stunning. Despite its small stature on most maps, Stewart Island has 700-kilometres of coastline so there is much to explore and experience here. Enjoy the impressive bird song as we explore Ulva Island, rich in history and wildlife, which has been predator-free since 1997. Some of the wildlife you may get to see while walking its tracks and exploring Boulder and West End Beaches, Post Office Bay and Sydney Cove include Stewart Island Robin, Stewart Island Weka, South Island Kaka, Kereru (wood pigeon), Mohua (yellowhead), Red-crowned Parakeet, Fantail, Bellbird and Tui. There are many more species that may also be seen, our knowledgeable expedition guides will be listening for bird calls and keeping a close watch in overhead canopies and the surrounding shrubs to identify further species. In Paterson Inlet visit the historic Norwegian whaling station in Prices Inlet and Kaipipi Bay, where from 1923 and 1933 the Ross Sea Whaling Company of Sandefjord, Norway ran a repair base where chaser boats were serviced in preparation for the Antarctic summer. Discover quirky town centre Oban in Halfmoon Bay where a drink with a view can be enjoyed at the historic and iconic South Sea Hotel.
The closest Subantarctic Islands to New Zealand, they were appropriately called The Snares as they were once considered a hazard for sailing ships. Comprising of two main islands and a group of five islands called the Western Chain; they are uninhabited and enjoy the highest protection as Nature Reserves. It is claimed by some that these islands are home to more nesting seabirds than all of the British Isles together. We plan to arrive in the morning, and as landings are not permitted, we will Zodiac cruise along the sheltered eastern side of the main island if the weather and sea conditions are suitable. In the sheltered bays, we should see the endemic Snares Crested Penguin, Snares Island Tomtit and Fernbirds. There are hundreds of thousands of Sooty Shearwaters nesting on The Snares; the actual number is much debated. Buller’s Albatross breed here from early January onwards. There will be opportunities to view the forests of large tree daisy Olearia lyallii which forms a canopy over much of the island group.
We have three days to explore the incredible wilderness of fiords in the south-west corner of the South Island. This is an area rich in history, majestic scenery and abundant in wildlife. Fiordland was well known to local Maori people, with the demi-god Tu-teraki-whanoa being said to have used his adze, Te Hamo, to carve out the region’s fiords. Captain Cook and his crew landed here on HMS Resolution in 1773, they were the first Europeans to visit Fiordland, subsequently spending five weeks in Dusky Sound. Cook’s records of his discovery and maps attracted sealers and whalers not long after who then formed the first European settlements of New Zealand, historically this region is very important and shaped the future of the country. Fiordland’s coast is only accessible by sea, making it the most remote region of New Zealand’s mainland. Waterfalls, streams, rivers and fiords are enveloped with misty veils that come and go, revealing steep gradients of mountain peaks and sheltered valleys. A rugged terrain, the thickly forested floors are covered with ferns, lichens and mosses. Bottlenose Dolphins, Fiordland Crested Penguins and Little Penguins are all residents of the fiords; during our time here we will look out for them. Our schedule gives us the flexibility to visit as much as possible, areas we plan to visit during our time in Fiordland include Doubtful Sound, Dusky Sound and Acheron Passage, Astronomer’s Point and Pickersgill Harbour. Our final plan will be determined by the weather. The Captain and Expedition Leader will work hard to make the best use of our time in this incredible region of New Zealand, including areas that even few New Zealanders have visited. The isolation of Fiordland has been beneficial because its beauty remains unspoiled and its historic sites undisturbed. On the evening of Day 7 we will enjoy a celebratory dinner with newfound friends and reflect on a wealth of new experiences from our adventure.
Early this morning we will arrive in the Port of Bluff. After a final breakfast we bid farewell to our fellow voyagers and take a complimentary coach transfer to either Invercargill or Queenstown Airports. In case of unexpected delays due to weather and/or port operations we ask you not to book any onward travel until after midday from Invercargill and after 3pm from Queenstown. Note: During our voyage, circumstances may make it necessary or desirable to deviate from the proposed itinerary. This can include poor weather and opportunities for making unplanned excursions. Your Expedition Leader will keep you fully informed. Landings at the Subantarctic Islands of New Zealand are by permit only as administered by the Government of New Zealand. No landings are permitted at The Snares.
Cabin accommodation on board ship
All meals whilst on board
Guiding and lectures by experienced expedition crew
All scheduled landings and excursions by zodiac
All miscellaneous service taxes and port charges
Pre or post land arrangements not mentioned in itinerary
Visa and reciprocity fees (if applicable)
Government arrival and departure taxes
Any optional activities not mentioned in itinerary
Customary gratuity for crew and personnel