Orion’s shallow draft will allow her to cruise all the way into Dunedin city wharf (whereas other vessels berth at Port Chalmers) to provide guests a full day ashore to enjoy this charming city, regarded as one of the best preserved Victorian and Edwardian cities in the Southern Hemisphere.
The Otago region was settled by Maori's over four centuries ago, with Scottish migrants establishing a small town in 1848. After gold was discovered Dunedin rapidly developed to (then) become New Zealand's biggest city and the country's industrial and commercial heart, with many ornate heritage buildings dating from this period still standing today. It was the first city outside the to have its own tram system. The Botanic Gardens, New Zealand's first, are located at the northern end of the city on the lower slopes of Signal Hill.
Orion is the perfect viewing platform from which to see World Heritage listed Milford Sound; a memorable scenic cruise that includes glacial carved hanging valleys, the iconic 1600 metre high Mitre Peak and magnificent Stirling Falls. The Maori were the first to ascribe creation of the fiords to a “titanic mason”, Tute Rakiwhanoa – a concept you will find totally believable as Orion slips beneath sheer granite cliffs, not yet worn smooth by time.
Along with the festivities onboard, Orion guests will enjoy amazing ship based and Zodiac cruising which will allow you to fully explore the famous Milford Sound.
Experience spectacular cruising through pristine wilderness in the very heart of Fiordland National Park, the largest in New Zealand and one of the largest in the world. The park is bordered to the east by glacial lakes and to the west by the 14 fiords that give Fiordland its name. Orion enters via Thompson Sound enroute to Doubtful and Dusky Sounds.
At 421 meters depth, Doubtful is the deepest of these fiords. Exuding a peaceful serenity it is sometimes called “the Sound of Silence”. Abundant in both flora and fauna, these fiordlands are renowned for their excellent dolphin and seal viewing opportunities, either from Orion or onboard one of Orion's Zodiacs. Fiordland Crested Penguins are often seen on many of the small islets at the entrance of the fiord and at Nee Islets there is a fur seal colony.
Included Expedition: Doubtful and Dusky both include spectacular ship based cruising as Orion winds her way through the fiords. Due to strict national park controls Zodiac cruising is tightly monitored but does allow us to include a cruise and a landing at Astronomer’s Point where a short walk is possible.
Stewart Island is the southern-most island of New Zealand. The forest is a haven for bird-life including Kaka, Parakeets and Bellbirds as there are fewer predators than on the mainland. New Zealand's national bird, the Kiwi, is found all round the island, often seen feeding on sandhoppers at the beach. Most sand is golden, however there is black iron sand on some beaches while others are white with quartz or red with garnet.
Orion will make her way along the sheltered eastern coast of Stewart Island (Rakiura), 96% of which is designated as Rakiura National Park. We will anchor in Paterson Inlet to visit the quaint fishing village of Oban in Halfmoon Bay with its art and craft shops and the wildlife sanctuary on Ulva Island.
Optional Excursions: Ulva Island Wildlife Sanctuary Guided Walk, Oban Village and Bay Tour. Please contact us for rates
Two small rocky islands, North East and Broughton, comprise The Snares, the closest sub-Antarctic islands to New Zealand. The islands are covered with heavy tussock grass and wind-beaten forests of tree daisies. Weather permitting you’ll launch your Zodiacs for an exploration of the sheltered eastern coastline as the island’s wildlife protection program precludes landings. The Snares are home to huge numbers of breeding birds, 99 recorded species including albatross, Antarctic Terns and Snares Crested Penguin. The Snares group is highly protected and landings are forbidden, but your Zodiacs allow you to get up as close as practical to the abundant birdlife.
Included Expedition: You will enjoy Zodiac exploration of the coastline with your Expedition Team looking out for the numerous bird species along the way.
Orion's guests will cruise in Zodiacs in Sandy Bay on Enderby Island at the northern end of Auckland Island, to view a large Hooker Sea Lion colony with pups all jostling for position. If you are fortunate, you may see the rare Yellow-Eyed Penguin as they move to and from their nests in the forests beyond the beach.
Campbell Island was first discovered in January 1810 by Captain Frederick Hasselburg, master of the sealing brig, Perseverance. He named the island after his employers Robert Campbell and Co. of Sydney and sadly drowned later that year after a boat capsized in Perseverance Harbour. Campbell is a volcanic island with fascinating rock formations. 50 years ago, between 2 and 3 million Rock Hopper Penguins were nesting on the island but since then 90% have been decimated by bacterial infection. Erect Crested Penguins are found here in small numbers and less than 20 pairs of Wandering Albatross nest. Approximately 8,500 pairs of Royal Albatross and about 74,000 pairs of Black Browed Mollymawk also call the island home. Over 40 other breeds of birds including the Southern Royal Albatross have also been observed on Campbell Island.
Often described as one of the "wonder spots" of the world, the sub-Antarctic island of Macquarie has been said to rival South Georgia in its magnificence, scenic diversity and prolific wildlife. Designated a wildlife sanctuary in 1933 and a World Heritage Site in 1977, Macquarie now operates a full-time manned station where biological and meteorological research is conducted. The station, located on the isthmus at Buckles Bay, is from where you will collect the Tasmanian Parks & Wildlife rangers who will be your guides.
Sandy Bay, situated halfway down the island's eastern seaboard, is the planned landing site. The Zodiacs will traverse breakwaters of giant kelp before reaching rocky beaches where landing conditions can best be described as "wet and challenging". Once ashore you'll find the bay, with its rugged backdrop of mountains and tussockcovered headlands, is home to 20,000 breeding pair of royal penguins, king penguins, rock hopper penguins, gentoo penguins and elephant seals. This profusion of wildlife wasn't always so protected, the rusting remains of machinery used by whalers being stark reminders of the exploitation which took place on the island during its early history.
Disembark this morning for your continued journey home.