Join Heritage Expeditions, pioneers in authentic small ship expedition cruising, as we explore New Zealand’s remote southern backyard on this special voyage. Discover the time-forgot rawness of wildlife rich Stewart and Ulva Islands before exploring the primordial majesty of Fiordland where clouds scud ragged peaks of glacier-cleaved mountains only accessible by expedition ship, and the rare opportunity to combine these iconic destinations on one voyage.
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 before departing for the Port of Bluff and Stewart Island before embarking your ship.
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. 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.
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 Māori 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. 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 5 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.
Please 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.