Heritage Adventurer is an authentic small ship for expedition cruising offering an unforgettable exploration of 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.
Cruising up the lower west side of New Zealand’s South Island, we prepare for the grand scale scenery of Fiordland. Exploring these remote ice-carved mountains, verdant forests and winding fiords, expect to encounter New Zealand Fur Seals, Dusky Dolphins, elusive birds and enjoy endless stunning vistas.
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. There’s time to settle into your cabin and explore the ship. Join the expedition team in the Observation Lounge and up on the Observation Deck setting course to Campbell Island. Sail past Ruapuke Island and Stewart Island. Despite appearing quite small on most maps it is really quite large and has a 700 kilometre coastline. Seabirds that we may encounter at this early point in the voyage include: albatross, petrels, cormorants, gulls and Little Blue Penguins.
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. Stewart Island has 700-kilometres of coastline with much to explore and experience. 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, appropriately called The Snares (once considered a hazard for sailing ships). Comprising of two main islands and a group of five islands called the Western Chain; uninhabited and enjoying the highest protection as Nature Reserves and home to many nesting seabirds. Landings are not permitted so 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.
Plenty of time spent exploring this south-west corner of the South Island. This is an area rich in history, majestic scenery and abundant in wildlife. 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. The isolation of Fiordland has been beneficial because its beauty remains unspoiled and its historic sites undisturbed. Enjoy a celebratory dinner with newfound friends and reflect on a wealth of new experiences from our adventure.
Arrive early in the Port of Bluff after breakfast farewell your fellow voyagers and take a complimentary coach transfer to either Invercargill or Queenstown Airports.