Unseen Fiordland and Stewart Island: Exploring New Zealand’s Remote Backyard


    It is time to explore the furthest reaches of New Zealand’s backyard and discover the primordial majesty of Fiordland and the time-forgot rawness of wildlife-rich Stewart Island/Rakiura on a new expedition cruise: Unseen Fiordland and Stewart Island.  Or venture further and visit The Snares, one of the world’s most important nature reserves on the new Unseen Fiordland, Stewart Island and the Snares.

    Experience two iconic kiwi destinations together on a 7 or 8 day voyage
    > Fall in love with the spectacular scenery of NZ’s largest national park
    > Visit destinations including: Stewart and Ulva Islands, Fiordland, Dusky Sound, Luncheon Cove, Archeron Passage, The Snares and more
    > Cruise on board the expedition ship Spirit of Enderby with just 50 passengers
    > Zodiac cruise glittering waterways between podocarp forests looking for penguins and dolphins
    > Wealth of birding highlights on predator-free Ulva Island

     

    Day 1: Invercargill

    Make your way to the Ascot Park Hotel, from where we will transfer you to the Port of Bluff, (reporting times and the departure time of the transfer will be confirmed with your voyage documents). The township of Bluff is situated on the north-eastern side of Bluff Hill, an extinct volcanic cone which forms a knoll at the southern end of the Bluff Peninsula which extends into Foveaux Strait. The captain and expedition team will be waiting for your arrival at the ship to greet you and show you to your cabin. You will have the opportunity to familiarise yourself on board and there will be formal introductions to the team followed by safety briefings. Join the captain on the bridge or fellow travellers on deck as we set sail for Stewart Island/Rakiura. Seabirds that we may encounter at this early point in the voyage include albatross, petrels, cormorants, gulls and Little Blue Penguins.

    Days 2 & 3: Stewart Island/Rakiura

    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, 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. Sailing south and around to the western side of the island, we will enjoy ship and Zodiac cruises along this rugged coastline with plans to land and explore some of the sandy beaches and surrounding, verdant wilderness. This area has a rich history of conservation, sealing and the ongoing practice of collecting Sooty Shearwater/Muttonbird chicks. The remote and wilderness fringed Mason Bay, a 19-kilometre sandy beach, holds great significance with Maori, was the site of determined early pioneering farmers and is home to the highest population of Kiwi in the world.

    Days 4 to 6: Fiordland

    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 Maori people, with the demi-god Tu-te-raki-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. 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. During our time in Dusky Sound there will be the opportunity to experience an unforgettable helicopter flight through the Sound swooping down alongside Cooper Island and Cook Channel with a landing on Mt Pender where spectacular vistas across constellations of islands stretching into the horizon and dotting the winding fiords can be enjoyed. 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 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 Night 6 we will enjoy a farewell and celebratory dinner with newfound friends with time to reflect on a wealth of new experiences and recap our adventure.

    Day 7: Invercargill

    We arrive at the Port of Bluff early in the morning. After breakfast there will be a last minute opportunity to bid farewell to your expedition team as you disembark and board our complimentary coach transfer to either a central city point or to the airport. Our adventure ends but memories will last long beyond this. In case of unexpected delays due to weather and/or port operations we ask you not to book any onward travel from Invercargill until after midday today. 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.

    UNSEEN FIORDLAND & STEWART ISLAND
    Date: 30 December 2020 to 5 January 2021
    Price From: NZ$4,495 pp for a Main Deck Triple Cabin, from NZD$5,495 pp for a Main Deck Twin Cabin

    UNSEEN FIORDLAND, STEWART ISLAND & THE SNARES
    Date: 6 – 13 January, 2021
    Price From: NZ$5,250 pp for a Main Deck Triple Cabin, from NZD$6,250 pp for a Main Deck Twin Cabin.

    Helicopter Excursion is NZD$450 extra