Fiordland Explored: Cruising Fiordland’s Iconic Doubtful & Dusky Sounds

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Discover the primordial majesty of Fiordland’s iconic Doubtful and Dusky Sounds on an unforgettable 5-day exploration with Heritage Expeditions, pioneers in authentic small ship expedition cruising.

Established in 1952, New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park is now over 1.2 million hectares in size and rightly famous for its epic, grand scale scenery, untamed wilderness and unique wildlife including Bottlenose Dolphins, Fiordland Crested Penguins and New Zealand Fur Seals. However, Fiordland is also rich in natural history, geology and the location of some historical firsts and important restoration and
conservation projects.

It was our early exploration of these rarely visited and remote ice-carved mountains, verdant forests and winding fiords rich in wildlife, conservation and history which inspired our dream for responsible travel. For this special expedition we have paired two of the most remote, hard to reach and spectacular of Fiordland’s destinations on the one voyage. Retrace the steps of Captain Cook along the shorelines of World Heritage Area Dusky Sound, one of Fiordland’s largest fiords some 40-kilometres long and studded with more than 350 islands. Equally impressive, New Zealand’s deepest fiord Doubtful Sound boasts lush rainforests, towering waterfalls and resident populations of New Zealand Fur Seals and rare Fiordland Crested Penguins.

Only accessible by sea, Doubtful and Dusky Sounds are among the most isolated areas on New Zealand’s mainland ensuring their pristine, epic beauty remains unspoiled and their historic sites undisturbed. Waterfalls, streams, rivers and fiords are enveloped with misty veils that come and go, revealing steep gradients of mountain peaks and sheltered valleys. Discover the calm waters of Fiordland in solitude and explore some of its most unique and wild parts on this bucket list voyage.

Note: some voyages operate in reverse, please contact us for more information.


• Remote and Pristine Beauty: Experience the untouched majesty of Doubtful and Dusky Sounds, two of Fiordland’s most isolated and breathtaking destinations.

• Unique Wildlife: Encounter rare wildlife species like Bottlenose Dolphins, Fiordland Crested Penguins, and New Zealand Fur Seals in their natural habitats.

• Historical Significance: Explore historic sites along Dusky Sound, retracing the steps of Captain Cook and discovering the region’s rich cultural heritage.

• Conservation Efforts: Learn about the conservation and restoration projects dedicated to preserving Fiordland’s unique ecosystem and ensuring its long-term sustainability.


Map for Fiordland Explored: Cruising Fiordland's Iconic Doubtful & Dusky Sounds

Day 1: Te Anau/Doubtful Sound

Meet with your fellow expeditioners in Te Anau before travelling across Lake Manapouri and over the Wilmot Pass to Deep Cove in Doubtful Sound (times and meeting point will be confirmed with your voyage documents). The Captain and Expedition Leader will be waiting to welcome you aboard Heritage Explorer and show you to your cabin. Settle into life aboard before we set sail along the scenic waterways of Doubtful Sound before finding a suitable anchorage to enjoy your first evening aboard.

Day 2: Doubtful & Breaksea Sounds

After a quiet night aboard surrounded by the nature and wilderness of Fiordland we continue our explorations of the most spectacular scenery in all of Fiordland – Doubtful Sound, or the ‘sound of silence’ as it’s also known. Spanning some staggering 40-kilometres and holding the title as New Zealand’s deepest fiord, Doubtful Sound with its cloud-scraping wilderness cloaked mountains, sheer stone cliffs, waterfalls, inlets, quiet coves and wildlife presents nature on a scale so grand it’s off the chart. Sailing along the Fiordland coast towards the extensive protected waters that are Breaksea and Dusky Sounds, join your naturalists on deck to spot seabirds including the majestic Wandering and Buller’s Albatross. Breaksea Island guards the entrance to Breaksea Sound, it was here that the first successful island rat eradication program was completed and today Breaksea Island is a protected nature reserve of great significance to the many endangered species which call the island home.

Day 3: Breaksea Sound & Acheron Passage

Today we explore our way through the waters of Breaksea Sound and Acheron Passage. Resolution Island is separated from the mainland by the scenic waters of Acheron Passage and at the southern end of the passage we enter Dusky Sound, be sure to be on the lookout for resident Bottlenose Dolphins. This afternoon you might like to join the chefs fishing for tonight’s dinner, or take the kayaks for a shoreline exploration. Our time here may include venturing into Wet Jacket Arm where the crew of Cook’s Resolution ended up with wet jackets during their survey work. It is also the site where moose were released, and last seen, in New Zealand.

Day 4: Dusky Sound

Visit Luncheon Cove on Anchor Island, where the first European boat was built in New Zealand. Take a short walk or explore along the coastline and be amazed by the birdlife with South Island Saddleback, Robins, Yellowhead and Parakeets in abundance on the island thanks to its predator-free status. It was on nearby Pigeon Island pioneering conservationist Richard Henry was based during his time in Dusky Sound. At Astronomer’s Point there may be the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of Captain Cook and his astronomer William Wales as it was here that the Resolution was moored during their time in Dusky Sound. Our expedition cruise through Dusky Sound visits the some of the most significant historical and conservation sites in New Zealand, as well as offering some of the most majestic scenery in New Zealand as we sail deep into the heart of Fiordland.

Day 5: Dusky Sound/Te Anau

This morning Heritage Explorer sails to Supper Cove at the very head of Dusky Sound, it is a last opportunity for you to bask in the majesty of the fiords, then take in the grand views and awe-inspiring scenery as you enjoy a spectacular helicopter transfer back to Te Anau. In case of unexpected delays, we ask you not to book any onward travel from Te Anau until after 1pm this afternoon.

Please Note:

Itineraries are subject to change.


• Voyage on board in selected cabin category
• Pre/Post cruise transfers
• Experienced expedition leader and team
• All meals while on board
• House beer, wine and soft drinks with lunch and dinner
• All expedition shore excursions


• International and Domestic flights, both commercial and charter
• Travel insurance
• Passport and visa costs if applicable
• Additional beverages other than those noted
• Gratuities
• Any items of a personal nature including laundry

WE – 2023
Images courtesy of Wild Earth Travel