09 May New Zealand onboard Heritage Adventurer
Jenn Boyd – Specialist Travel Consultant
I boarded Heritage Adventurer in Bluff on the southern Island of New Zealand and soon made myself comfortable in my cabin, home for the next 7 nights. Before we could explore our grand dame of the sea mandatory lifeboat drills were carried out by the staff and guests. Not long after we were invited to the lounge for a cocktail with the captain and crew; where introductions were made by the expedition leaders and hospitality staff.
Soon we are cruising towards Dusky Sound.
Astronomer’s Point, Dusky Sound, New Zealand
In the morning we woke to absolutely breathtaking scenery as we sailed into Dusky Sound. This area is rich in Māori and European history; from the Iwi stories to Captain Cook’s landing in 1773. Dusky Sound was also the site of one of the world’s first conservation reserves in the late 19th century and where ground breaking work has been achieved with predator control taking place over the last 50 years.
Today we enjoy two zodiac cruises with landings at historical sites – Astronomer’s Point and Indian Island, both places that Captain Cook visited in the late 1770s. The weather was on our side and we had stunning day in Dusky Sound with plenty of wildlife viewing and of course magnificent fjords and picturesque bays. As we were cruising along in our zodiac we come across thousands of jellyfish moving with the tides and floating past us close to the water’s surface, a truly amazing sight.
Our expedition leader spots a pod of bottlenose dolphins making their way into the sheltered waters, our zodiac is soon repositioned and I can see many dorsal fin’s right next to the zodiac. The dolphins are playing with the bow waves and leaping out of the water. Everyone springs into action, cameras are clicking, videos being recorded. The front of the zodiac is a coveted spot as it’s perfect for capturing images of these frisky mammals as they glide in and out and across the water. We spend an hour watching them playing together as excited squeals and a sense of awe fill the zodiac.
In the afternoon there are plenty of excursions to choose from depending on your interests. I chose to join the group being dropped off at Anchor Island for a 2.5 hour walk where we discover stunning beech forests, large tree ferns, rocks covered in lichen and sheltered valleys with pristine streams. I am constantly on the lookout for the critically endangered kakapo (night parrot). I feel like I am on the set of the Hobbit or Lord of the Rings.
Ulva Island & Paterson Inlet
I woke to a cloudy day but were again blessed by clearing skies before our morning excursion. The expedition leader calls out over the loud speaker ‘15 minutes until first zodiac’; I throw my rain jacket on and excitedly head to the mud room to put on my gumboots and life jacket. A short zodiac ride and I arrive at Paterson Inlet. Ulva Island, a predator-free sanctuary, also known as Te Wharawhara by the Māori’s. We are met by our local guides for the day and split into groups for short, medium or long hikes. My guide is eager to impart her wealth of knowledge to us as she leads us on a hike through the enchanting forest. Ulva Island has a maritime climate and our guide explained to us about the native Podocarp trees including the majestic rimu, miro and totara. We were fortunate to see Weka, red crowned parakeet and bellbirds. I enjoyed the bird’s calling, the sound of raindrops landing on the leaves and voices that echoed through the forest. Upon reaching then end of the hike, West End Beach, it started to pour with rain, a curious weka happily tramped over to us and poked at our backpacks. Soon the rain stopped and the sun beamed through the clouds as twin rainbows appeared on a distant rocky shore, I wondered was this a sign of hope, beauty and of good fortune.
Today we sailed into the beautiful Otago Harbour, I was ready to explore the fascinating city of Dunedin, our first stop was Tūhura Otago Museum where we met our local guide for a private tour through the exhibits. Next stop was the Royal Albatross Centre at Taiaroa Heads, where a colony of Northern Royal Albatross is found and chicks await feeding visits from their parents. From a hide that looked down over the cliffs and bay I had opportunity to watch these graceful birds. All too soon I was back on board the Heritage Adventurer. We farewelled Dunedin with strawberry Daiquiris on the ship’s stern.
Today we explore Able Tasman National Park, the smallest National Park in New Zealand also home to one of the great walks of New Zealand. Local expert guides join us and we are taken by a small boat to the start of the walk. Our guides where young and enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the Gondwana rainforest and this paradise of the pacific. The walk is absolutely breath-taking, lush green forests overlooking impressive golden sand beaches, stunning waterfalls, steep cliffs with picturesque turquoise inlets and the end of the walk was capped off by a very refreshing swim before we headed back to the ship.
As our journey comes to an end, I take with me the excitement of discovering New Zealand, the memories shared with others, the knowledge I have gained and the spectacular landscapes I have witnessed in this magnificent country of the Long White Cloud.
To find out more about Jenn and Cinzia’s New Zealand adventure, and Heritage Adventurer’s small ship voyages in New Zealand, Japan and to the Ross Sea please call us on 1300 784 794 or email: email@example.com.