After departing Bluff we set sail for Stewart Island, New Zealand’s third largest island, and predator-free Ulva Island/Te Wharawhara. Rich in history and wildlife, these wild and remote islands are home to a unique range of birdlife including Bellbird, Tui, Kaka, Tomtit, Rifleman, Stewart Island Robin, Saddleback, Mohua and of course, the Stewart Island Brown Kiwi (or Southern Tokoeka).
Rarely visited and one of New Zealand’s best kept secrets, The Snares is internationally renowned as a wildlife haven where we should see the Snares Crested Penguin, Snares Island Tomtit and Fernbird, New Zealand Fur Seals and tree daisy forest as we Zodiac cruise its jagged coastline. Travelling north we will cruise around South West Cape and the Muttonbird/Titi Islands, an archipelago of three rocky island chains named after the Sooty Shearwater which famously breed here.
We also discover the primordial majesty of Fiordland where clouds scud the ragged peaks of glacier-cleaved mountains streaked with waterfalls only accessible by expedition ship, and the rare opportunity to combine both of these remarkable destinations on one voyage.
Main Deck Triple: $5,250 per person
Main Deck Cabin: $6,250 per person
Superior Cabin: $7,450 per person
Superior Plus Cabin: $7,995 per person
Mini Suite: $8,565 per person
Heritage Suite: $9,450 per person
6 – 13 January, 2021
Able to climb up and down stairs. Flexibility to get and out of Zodiacs.
Due to Covid 19 restrictions, only kiwi passengers are permitted on board.
• All meals aboard ship
• Ice-breaker class vessel
• Services of your knowledgeable of your Expedition Leader and crew
• Domestic airfares
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 we may encounter at this 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. 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.
Today we plan to Zodiac cruise the craggy coastline of these ancient granite islands on an unforgettable wildlife safari. You’ll soon discover why these pristine nature reserves have been afforded both UNESCO World Heritage status and the highest level of government protection as we explore sea caves and observe wildlife in spectacular numbers. Highlights include Snares Crested Penguins navigating the treacherous ‘Penguin Slide’, New Zealand Fur Seals lazing on jagged rocks, inquisitive Hooker’s/New Zealand Sea Lions which may approach our Zodiacs and looking for endemic Snares Fernbirds and Tomtits among the large tree daisy forests. Sooty Shearwaters are often seen in incredible numbers rafting on the water and nesting Light-mantled Sooty and Buller’s Albatross have also been observed on these priceless ecosystems.
Sailing north and around to the western side of Stewart 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.
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-teraki-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 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 our last evening we will enjoy a celebratory dinner with newfound friends and reflect on a wealth of new experiences from our adventure.
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. 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.
We’re excited to let you know we have partnered with pionering small ship expedition cruise company Heritage Expeditions in Christchurch. All the Expeditions from Nov 2020 to Feb 2020 are for only NZ passengers and due to the remote destinations visited there is no need to quarantine upon return to NZ soil.
Like ourselves, they are NZ owned and run. They pioneered authentic expedition voyages to Antarctica and the Sub Antarctic Islands. and have a wealth of experience in this area. As we both share common values we know you will be well looked after and have a great adventure.
Want to see birds? Snares Islands is a must.