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The Top of the South: Explorations Beyond Marlborough Sounds

Example 9 Day Cruise aboard Heritage Explorer
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This unique expedition cruise of Queen Charlotte and Pelorus Sounds, French Pass and d'Urville Island, and Abel Tasman National Park offers an unparalleled exploration of the breath-taking beauty of their winding cobalt waterways, iconic landscapes, lush native forests, wildlife, gold-sand beaches, and remote coastlines. These regions are also rich in early New Zealand history and the location of some of the country's most important conservation efforts. Formed by a system of submerged valleys carved out following the last ice age around 10,000 years ago, the scenic playground of Marlborough Sounds encompasses some 1,500-kilometres of forested coastline, sheltered inlets, and bays awaiting exploration, many only accessible by sea. The union of three main bodies of water - Queen Charlotte, Kenepuru, and Pelorus Sounds - Marlborough Sounds has more than 50 Department of Conservation managed reserves and several predator-free wildlife sanctuaries.
Highlights
  • Explore the hidden coves, beaches of New Zealand's South Island
  • Visit the whaling history of the Perano Whalers of Tory Channel
  • Discover the picturesque Pelorus Sound
  • Sail through the iconic French Pass of d’Urville
Places Visited
Trip Type:
  • Small Ship
Activity Level: Relaxed
0

Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Blenheim | Embark

Make your way to the designated meeting point in Blenheim for your transfer to Heritage Explorer in Picton (times and meeting point will be confirmed with your voyage documents). The captain and expedition team will be waiting to welcome you aboard Heritage Explorer and show you to your cabin. You will have the opportunity to familiarise yourself on board then join the captain on the bridge or fellow travelers on deck as we set sail along Queen Charlotte Sound this afternoon.
***Note: Some voyages will operate the itinerary in reverse.***

Day 2-3: Queen Charlotte Sound

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
First sighted in 1642 by Abel Janszoon Tasman while seeking shelter for his ships Heemskerck and Zeehaen from a storm near d’Urville Island, it was Captain James Cook who would first set foot here aboard the Endeavour during his five visits to Ship Cove, his New Zealand base between 1770 and 1777, in what he would call Queen Charlotte Sound. We spend two full days exploring the waterways and islands of scenic Queen Charlotte Sound with opportunities to head ashore and walk a section of the Queen Charlotte Walkway as well as search for birdlife on the predator-free islands. A visit to Tory Channel brings the whaling history of the Perano Whalers to life. We also plan to visit Ship Cove and learn of its history, exploring the region and visiting Captain Cook’s memorial inaugurated in 1913.

Day 4-5: Pelorus Sound

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
The largest in the Marlborough Sounds, Pelorus Sound’s main channel winds some picturesque 55 kilometres south between steep verdant hills from Cook Strait to Havelock. Boasting 380 kilometres of shoreline, the endless bays and sheltered coves of Pelorus Sound are perfect for exploration. Venturing into Pelorus Sound we head to Ngawhakawhiti Bay where nature surrounds us and it’s possible to get a glimpse of what the sounds would have been like before the native forest was cleared. The more active are able to enjoy the walking part of the Nydia Track before we explore Nydia Bay.

Day 6-7: d’Urville island

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Depending on the weather and tides we will venture to the seldom-visited northern coast of d’Urville Island, either through French Pass or via Stephens Island. The outermost island in the Marlborough Sounds, d’Urville Island is named after French Explorer Dumont d’Urville and features imposing sea cliffs along its west coast, a high mountainous backbone, and the fastest moving tidal flows in New Zealand between the French Pass tempered by some of the country’s finest peninsula scenery. Dolphins and New Zealand Fur Seals are frequently seen in the waters surrounding the island and it was here that Pelorus Jack, the endearing Risso’s Dolphin who famously stole the nation’s heart, guided ships through these waters between 1888 and 1912.

Day 8: Abel Tasman National Park

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
New Zealand’s smallest national park, Abel Tasman National Park is a wilderness reserve where hills cloaked in regenerating native forest flanked by impressive granite formations meet sandy beaches and crystalline streams cascade through mossy valleys en route to the sea. There is much to experience and enjoy here as we expedition cruise this scenic coastline. Depending on the weather there will be opportunities to kayak secluded inlets and shores, walk among the forest, swim and explore beaches. 

Day 9: Nelson | Disembark

  • 1 Breakfast
After an early morning departure from our anchor in Abel Tasman National Park we arrive at the Port of Nelson. After a final breakfast and farewells, you are transferred to a central Nelson drop off point or the airport. In case of unexpected delays we ask you not to book any onward travel from Nelson 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.

Ship/Hotel

Heritage Explorer

Heritage Explorer
Heritage Explorer
Heritage Explorer

Dates & Prices

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Per person starting at
$5,195
Heritage Explorer Buller's cabin
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Buller's
Located on the Lower Deck, the Buller's cabin features one bunk (one upper and one lower berth), ample storage with wardrobe and drawers, TV, PABX satellite telephone, private en suite and a porthole.
Heritage Explorer Salvin's cabin
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Salvin's
Located on the Lower Deck, Salvin’s Double cabins feature a double bed, ample storage with wardrobe and drawers, TV, PABX satellite telephone, private en suite and a picture porthole.
Heritage Explorer Wandering cabin
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Wandering
Located on the Lower Deck, Wandering cabins feature one lower single berth, ample storage with wardrobe and drawers, TV, PABX satellite telephone, private en suite and a porthole.
Heritage Explorer Royal cabin
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Royal
Located on the Bridge Deck, our Master Suite features a spacious bedroom with a queen-sized bed, ample storage with wardrobe and drawers, mirror and washbasin, private en suite, personal climate control, TV, PABX satellite telephone, window and French doors opening out on to the covered Bridge Deck.

Notes

Includes:
Landing fees, pre and post-cruise transfers, all on-board ship accommodation with meals, and all shore excursions and activities. GST, house drinks, and expert on-board naturalist guides. Pricing per person in NZ$.

Excludes:
All items of a personal nature, laundry, domestic flights, extensions, and travel insurance.

Map

When to Go

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Dec
Good to ideal period to travel, and many people choose to visit at this time.

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