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Explore the stunning Milford Sound

South Coast to Fiordland: New Zealand's South Island

Example 9 Day Cruise aboard Coral Geographer
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Aboard Coral Geographer, experience New Zealand from a different perspective, as free time and the ability to customize your expedition from a choice of experiences in historic cities is contrasted with wilderness experiences guided by your knowledgeable expedition team. By small ship, enjoy access to remote and difficult-to-reach wilderness areas within the Marlborough Sounds and Fiordland, and visit sheltered coves and islands to find fur seals, kakapos, and pods of friendly dolphins.
Sheep on a hillside overlooking Marlborough SoundsA quiet morning near DunedinCascading waterfall in the Milford SoundBeautiful view of AkaroaCoastal beauty of DunedinCoastal beauty of DunedinExplore the stunning Milford Sound
Highlights
  • Spend two days exploring Rakiura (Stewart Island)
  • Discover the history of Ship Cove
  • Observe the wildlife in New Zealand's Southland
  • Explore the stunning Milford Sound
Places Visited
Trip Type:
  • Small Ship
Activity Level: Relaxed
0

Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Wellington | Embark

Board Coral Geographer in Wellington at 7:30 am for a 9:00 am departure. Take the morning to settle in as you cruise the Cook Strait, ahead of arriving to the Marlborough Sounds.

Day 2: Marlborough Sounds

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
The ancient river valleys that form the Marlborough Sounds make up 20% of New Zealand’s coastline. The webs of sunken channels are surrounded by forest-cloaked peaks and vineyards, all of which present a breathtaking view from any perspective.  This lush region produces much of New Zealand’s seafood, and 80% of its wine. The fertile soil in this region supported the country’s first known Polynesian settlement in the late 1200s AD at Wairau Bar.

Here, cruise the fiord-like Queen Charlotte Sound (Totaranui). Follow the path of Captain Cook’s exploratory voyages, including a stop at Cook’s favourite New Zealand base, Ship Cove, where he spent a total of 120 days. Discover the dolphins and seals of the sounds with marine spotting from the Xplorer and enjoy wonderful birdwatching on walks through Motuara Island birdlife sanctuary.  Guided by your expedition team and lecturers, there will be options to hike a section of the spectacular Queen Charlotte Track, or shorter walks available.  The history of the region is also brought to life with your visit to Ship Cove.

Day 3: Kaikoura

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Ringed by a breathtaking snow-dusted Seaward Kaikoura Ranges, the picturesque town of Kaikoura is renowned as possibly the best whale watching destination in the world. Kaikoura is one of the very few places it is possible to observe the Sperm Whale! Aboard a small specialized vessel, you will explore the ocean in search of these amazing mammals, as well as fur seals, dusky and Hector’s dolphins and other migratory whales.

Kaikoura means ‘to eat crayfish’, and you may have the opportunity to taste the seafood available here. You will also have the opportunity walk through this small town to visit the museums, galleries, and cafes, before joining the expedition team on a guided walk over the peninsula to marvel at the spectacular scenery.

Day 4: Akaroa

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
This morning, sail into the long harbour of Akaroa, formed by the breached volcanic crater that makes up the Banks Peninsula. The village of Akaroa has the unique identity of being the only French settlement in New Zealand, and its charming cottages and French street names still carry that identity today.

Ringed by the pastoral rolling hills of the Peninsula, the scenic village was once a bustling whaling outpost. Here, guests have a choice of two included excursions – a harbour cruise with a local operator to spot marine wildlife or a visit to a traditional hill country farm operated by 7th generation descendants of the earliest French Settlers on Banks Peninsula. Guests will also have free time to explore the scenic village, and visit cafes inspired by French cuisine. A variety of short walks are available into the surrounding nature reserves, such as a walk to Newton’s Waterfall, guided by your expedition team.

Day 5: Dunedin

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Dunedin, settled in and around an ancient volcanic crater, is known for its Scottish and Maori heritage. Named after the Scottish Gaelic name for Edinburgh, the city’s heritage buildings, cathedrals, and charming atmosphere share an old-world atmosphere. Dunedin City is regarded as New Zealand’s architectural heritage capital.

The Otago Peninsula is an area of exceptional diversity, and as you enter the long Otago Harbour, you will be welcomed with sights of the world’s only mainland breeding colony of northern royal albatross and a colony of yellow-eyed penguin  – the world’s rarest penguin – as well as Hookers sea lions. and various other unique species.

You will have time to explore the city at your own leisure: perhaps visit the famous Speight’s Brewery, art gallery, museum, and New Zealand’s oldest botanic gardens. There will also be a choice of included excursions with local operators – choose between a coach tour of the Otago Peninsula’s most scenic beaches and Dunedin’s highlights, or a railway journey through the rugged and spectacular Taieri River Gorge.

Day 6-7: Stewart & Ulva Islands

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Known in Maori mythology as Te Punga o Te Waka – The Anchor Stone of Maui’s Canoe’ – Stewart Island (Rakiura) is New Zealand’s little known ‘third island’. Apart from the communities on the island, many people never venture to remote Stewart Island.  Nearby Ulva Island is also found within the Rakiura National Park, offering a predator-free environment for rare and endangered birds including South Island Saddleback, Kakapo, Weka, Yellowhead, Rifleman, Stewart Island Robin, and the iconic Kiwi; the Stewart Island Brown Kiwi birds are known to venture out in daylight.

On Ulva Island, a guided walk will provide the opportunity to spot a vast array of birdlife and hopefully a few fur seals lazing on the shore during the tour. There will be free time to explore the village of Oban, and a guided Xplorer cruise to Prices Point Whaling Station will unveil the history of the region. For the fit, there will be an opportunity to walk a section of the Iconic Rakiura Track, before heading off to Bluff for a brief stop ahead of our cruise to Fiordland.

Day 8: Fiordland: Dusky, Doubtful & Thomson Sounds

  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Fiordland National Park, a World Heritage site once described as the Eighth Wonder of the World, 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 sheer 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.

You will discover the fur seals of Luncheon Cove and cruise Astronomer’s Point – Captain Cook’s base when exploring Fiordland. You may have the opportunity to visit the site where the scientific team from HMB Endeavour set up their equipment.

In the afternoon, trace Acheron Passage to 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. You may spot fur seals lounging on the rocks, pods of dolphins, and the Fiordland penguin. Tonight, enjoy the Captain’s Farewell Drinks.

Day 9: Milford Sound | Disembark | Queenstown

  • 1 Breakfast
This morning at dawn, enter Milford Sound / Piopiotahi to a world-famous view of Mitre Peak, rising some 1682 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 before disembarking. It is here you say goodbye and disembark at 10:00 am before transferring by coach to Queenstown. The coach arrives in Queenstown at approximately 3:30 pm.

Ship/Hotel

Coral Geographer

Coral Geographer
Coral Geographer Deck

Dates & Prices

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Per person starting at
$5,225
Coral Deck Stateroom
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Coral Deck Stateroom
Located on the Coral Deck, these 17 Sq m staterooms are furnished with a junior King size bed which can be separated into two singles. A wardrobe, desk and armchair are included. A compact en-suite bathroom has a toilet, shower and ample storage. Twin porthole windows give you views of the world outside.
Promenade Deck Stateroom
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Promenade Deck Stateroom
Located on the Promenade Deck, these 17 Sq m staterooms are furnished with a junior King size bed which can be separated into two singles. A wardrobe, desk and armchair are included. A compact en-suite bathroom has a toilet, shower and ample storage. A large picture window gives you wide views of the world outside.
Coral Geographer
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Explorer Deck Balcony Stateroom
These 21.4 Sq m staterooms are comfortably furnished with a junior King size bed which can be separated into two singles. A wardrobe, desk and armchair are included. A compact en-suite bathroom has a toilet, shower and ample storage. Your private balcony has seating for two from which to view the passing coastal vistas. These staterooms are located on the Explorer deck.
Bridge Deck Balcony Suite
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Bridge Deck Balcony Suite
Bridge Deck Balcony Suites are equipped with a lounge area, minibar and personal coffee machine. Along with special King sized beds which can be separated into two singles. An 3.5 sq m private balcony has an outdoor daybed and lounge chair for two.

Notes

Cruise Price Includes:
  • The services of an expert expedition team
  • All excursions, including Xplorer and zodiac cruises
  • Local operator excursions at some locations
  • All meals, prepared fresh by our chefs
  • Showcase wines, selected beers and soft drinks with lunch and dinner service
  • 24 hour coffee and selection of teas
  • Captain’s Welcome and Farewell Events, and Open Bridge Access with the Captain
  • Guided sightseeing in each destination
  • All entrance fees to National Parks and Ports
  • Post-cruise transfers from Milford Sound to Queenstown
Cruise Price Excludes:
  • Travel insurance
  • Flights
  • Pre-cruise transfers
  • Entry visas or travel permits
  • Items of a personal nature including but not limited to phone and internet communications and bar charges (outside of the included drinks package as highlighted) laundry charges and souvenir purchase

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