Discover the time-forgot rawness of wildlife-rich Stewart Island/Rakiura and Ulva Island/Te Wharawhara with Heritage Expeditions, New Zealand’s pioneering small ship expedition cruise company, on this exclusive 8-day voyage aboard our luxurious 18-guest expedition yacht Heritage Explorer.
Described by botanist Leonard Cockayne in 1909 as being “an actual piece of the primeval world”, his comment still rings true today. Just 30 kilometres from the Mainland and with more than 85% of the island dedicated National Park, New Zealand’s third island combines stunning landscapes spanning towering granite cliffs to unspoiled wilderness (more than half the island is covered by podocarp and rimu, miro, kamahi and southern rata dominant forests), 700-kilometres of coastline, beaches, hidden bays and coves, with abundant wildlife, numerous conservation success stories, rich history, epic sunrises and sunsets and the rightly famous hospitality of the friendly locals.
And with its Maori name, Rakiura, translating to ‘the land of the glowing skies’, there’s also the opportunity to experience the spectacular Aurora Australis which often puts on a mesmerising show as it famously paints the southern skies.
With only 25 kilometres of road, Stewart Island and its remote, hard to reach shores and historic spots are best explored by sea including nearby predator-free Ulva Island – your best chance of seeing New Zealand’s national icon the Kiwi bird during the day along with Stewart Island Robin, Stewart Island Weka, South Island Kaka, Kereru (wood pigeon), Mohua (yellowhead), Red-crowned Parakeet, Fantail, Bellbird and Tui.
Discover quirky town centre Oban in Halfmoon Bay where a drink with a view can be enjoyed at the iconic South Sea Hotel, historic Paterson Inlet, Port Pegasus and more as we experience Unseen Stewart and Ulva Islands on this unforgettable adventure.
PLEASE NOTE THE 2 NOVEMBER 2023 DEPARTURE IS 7 DAYS AND NOT 8 DAYS LONG
• Visit Paterson Inlet
• Discover Port Adventure
• Explore Port Pegasus
• Enjoy Lords River
Day 1: Invercargill/Oban
Make your way to the designated meeting point in Invercargill where you will meet your fellow travellers before being transferred to Bluff to catch the Stewart Island Ferry (times will be confirmed with your voyage documents) to Oban. The Captain and Expedition Leader will be waiting to welcome you aboard Heritage Explorer at Oban and show you to your cabin as you settle into life aboard your home away from home.
Day 2: Paterson Inlet
Awake refreshed this morning after your first night on board and enjoy breakfast among the wide open spaces and serenity of Stewart Island’s primeval landscape. Today we plan to explore Paterson Inlet, its near 100-kilometre square expanse features bush-clad bays, beaches and inlets, is studded with around 20 islands and its waters frequently visited by Bottlenose Dolphins. During our time here there will be opportunities to 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, walk one of the many forest trails and explore predator-free bird sanctuary Ulva Island with our knowledgeable guides and marvel at the variety of birdlife flourishing here.
Day 3: Port Adventure
Exploring southwards along the eastern coast of Stewart Island there are several well protected and important harbours for us to visit, with Port Adventure being the first of these we reach. Popular for fishing, hunting and diving this bay once housed a small Maori settlement who arrived from The Neck in 1843. Here opportunities could include visiting the Port Adventure Hunters Hut in the Northern Arm, Zodiac cruising the coastline and the spectacular Heron River, along with adventures ashore on foot.
Days 4 to 6: Port Pegasus
Sure to be one of the highlights of our voyage, we have three days to explore the remote, undisturbed beauty of Port Pegasus. Isolated at the southern end of the island, with access predominantly by sea, there is much to explore and experience among this undisturbed wilderness over the following three days. Boasting an expansive harbour laced with waterways, arms and channels, several waterfalls and three main islands – Pearl Island (the largest) in the north, Anchorage Island in the centre, and Noble Island in the south, provides an unrivalled opportunity to immerse yourself in the scenic beauty of Stewart Island. We will spend our time exploring Zodiac and kayak, venturing into hidden coves and landing on pristine white sand beaches where few have set foot before. There are also a number of excellent walking options including exploring the Granite Domes to the west of Gog and Magog, or venturing onto the southern extension of the subalpine Tin Range, the eastern area of which would become the last refuge for Kākāpo in the second half of the twentieth century. The marine life here abounds with Hooker’s/New Zealand Sea Lions and Yellow-eyed Penguins regularly seen. For those who enjoy fishing there will be ample opportunity to try your luck at catching a meal for the table.
Day 7: Lords River
Returning northwards along the shores of Stewart Island’s east coast, Heritage Explorer ventures into the sheltered waters of Lords River, the longest navigable river on Stewart Island at 8 kilometres. Considered one of the most spectacular and unspoilt areas of New Zealand and the country’s Amazon, a historic deed was signed in 1999 to protect the area’s 3,515 hecatres of virgin native forest. Here we will take the opportunity to enjoy a Zodiac safari up this fascinating winding estuary with its tannin-stained water reminiscent of Fiordland as it snakes its way to the ocean from the interior of Stewart Island.
Day 8: Oban/Invercargill
This morning Heritage Explorer returns to Oban where, after a final breakfast and farewells, you are transferred to the Stewart Island Ferry for your return sailing to Bluff and onwards transfer to a central Invercargill drop off point or the airport. In case of unexpected delays, we ask you not to book any onward travel from Invercargill until after 12 noon this afternoon. 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.
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
• House drinks
• International and Domestic flights, both commercial and charter
• Travel insurance
• Passport and visa costs if applicable
• Additional beverages other than those noted
• Any items of a personal nature including laundry
WE – 2023
Images courtesy of Wild Earth Travel