- 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Fiordland National Park, a World Heritage site once described as the Eighth Wonder of the World by author Rudyard Kipling, is characterized by 14 fiords carving through just 215km of coastline. These fiords were carved by glaciers over thousands of years, and you will see waterfalls cascading down the sheer cliffs, rainforest cloaking the steep ridges, and granite peaks reflected in the deep shimmering waters.
These mostly inaccessible and awe-inspiring landscapes were the mysterious source of powerful pounamu (New Zealand Jade), gathered by Maori from the riverbeds and boulders of the South Island – the only place it occurs. While some European settlers took shelter here, the deep isolation and rugged terrain thwarted all except the toughest from staying. Many of the flora and fauna species have developed in relative isolation, so many of the diverse plants and animals are unique to the area.
Enter Fiordland National Park at dramatic Tamatea / Dusky Sound, and cruise among towering cliffs and sheet granite walls of Facile Harbour, cascading waterfalls, pass some of the 365 small islands and explore the depths of the inlets in the zodiacs. Inaccessible by road, Tamatea / Dusky Sound is the largest and most complex of the Fiordland Sounds. It is also a designated Important Bird Area for the Fiordland Penguins that breed here. We will also encounter the fur seals of Luncheon Cove.
Early in the morning, a dawn cruise traces Acheron Passage to Te Puaitaha / Breaksea Sound, surrounded by breathtaking landscapes on all sides as you retrace Cook’s journey. It is easy to imagine the small wooden Endeavour being dwarfed by the steep-sided fiords and encircled by the blanketing silence of the fog-cloaked peaks.
Doubtful Sound / Patea is the deepest and widest fiord, flanked by towering cliffs and adorned by cascading waterfalls. The stillness and silence of this Fiord is compelling and unforgettable. You will cruise into Doubtful Sound / Patea, and past the outer Seal Islands, Nee Islets and through ‘the Gut’, before cruising by Blanket Bay and into Te Awa-o-Tū / Thomson Sound. You may spot fur seals lounging on the rocks, pods of dolphins, and the Fiordland penguin. Tonight, enjoy the Captain’s Farewell Drinks.
This afternoon, enter Milford Sound / Piopiotahi to a world-famous view of Mitre Peak, rising some 1,682 metres. Its triangular silhouette rises opposite beautiful Stirling Falls, falling from the top of a 162m high cliff between two towering ridges into the inky dark water. You may have a chance to feel the spray from the waterfall – according to Maori legend it will make you ten years younger! The steep overhanging cliffs are awe-inspiring as you cruise to Harrison Cove, where an ancient glacier entered the fiord, and visit Bowen Falls.