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Northern Fiords Explorer: Expedition Cruising Fiordland's Northern Fiords

Example 7 Day Cruise aboard Heritage Explorer
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On this 7-day New Zealand expedition cruise aboard Heritage Explorer from Milford Sound to Doubtful Sound, discover the natural grandeur and history of Fiordland's Northern Fiords. Explore the national park of Fiordland, home to bottlenose dolphins, Fiordland crested penguins, and New Zealand fur seals. Be inspired by the far-off ice-carved mountains, lush rainforests, and winding fiords to embark on a sustainable journey. Captain Cook and his crew arrived on HMS Resolution in 1773 and spent five weeks in Dusky Sound. Cook's discoveries and maps drew sealers and whalers, who established the first European settlements in New Zealand, and those seeking concealed greenstone or New Zealand jade starting in the mid-19th century. This region has shaped New Zealand's past and future.
cruising at Doubtful SoundEpic clouds over Te Anau
Highlights
  • Experience the primordial majesty of Fiordland's Northern Fiords.
  • Enjoy the scenic drive through the Eglington Valley.
  • Explore these remote ice-carved mountains and more in Fiordland.
  • Sail the calm waters of Fiordland in solitude.
Places Visited
Activity Level: Variable
Activity options vary depending on destination and operator. Activity level is determined by the range and intensity of activities you choose to participate in. Discuss with your Trip Planner which options are best for you.
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Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Te Anau | Milford Sound | Embark

Make your way to the designated meeting point in Te Anau then enjoy the scenic drive through the Eglinton Valley to Milford Sound and then join in Preservation Inlet (times and meeting point is to be confirmed with your voyage documents). The Captain and Expedition Leader is waiting to welcome you aboard Heritage Explorer and show you to your cabin. Settle into life aboard before and prepare for the adventure ahead while revelling in the spellbinding scenery of Milford Sound.

Day 2: Bligh Sound

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Join your on board expedition naturalists to spot albatross and seabirds as you sail the rich waters of the Fiordland Coast before arriving in the seldom visited yet spectacular waters of Bligh Sound. With its crooked ‘Z’ shape you feel at the heart of the Fiordland wilderness when venturing to the head of the fiord at Bounty Haven where the Wild Natives River flows from the mountains above. Numerous sheltered coves and clear waters make it perfect for kayaking, of particular interest here is one of Fiordland’s several ‘China Shops’, special zones containing a fragile environment where deep sea life can be viewed closer to the surface than normal due to the darkness created by the brackish water.

Day 3: George Sound

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
After a night enjoying the tranquility of Bligh Sound you navigate to the largest of the Northern Fiords, George Sound. Stretching 26-scenic-kilometers, George Sound is also the longest of the Northern Fiords and with several arms branching from the fiord you have multiple options for exploration. However the spectacular sight of Alice Falls flanked by dense forest and tumbling over boulders as it thunders out of Lake Alice at the head of fiord is always a strong draw. It was at the head of George Sound that Wapiti/elk were introduced to New Zealand in 1905, part of the herd being gifted by American president Theodore Roosevelt.

Day 4: Caswell Sound

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Another rarely explored fiord, Caswell Sound is home to the last physical remains of the 1949 New Zealand–American Fiordland scientific expedition, a primitive hut standing on the banks of the Stillwater River used while studying the Wapiti/elk herd introduced earlier in the century. Tiny Styles Island guards the fiord’s entrance to the Tasman Sea while walks include a nature-filled stroll along Stillwater River towards Lake Marchant. Fishing here is good for those interested in joining the chefs in securing tonight’s dinner.

Day 5: Charles & Nancy Sounds

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Today is the exploration of the southern-most of the northern fiords on our agenda. Flanked by steep mountains including Mount Napier and Command Peak, Nancy Sound was likely named after the vessel Nancy by Captain John Grono one of the early sealing captains to explore Fiordland. Nancy Sound’s unusual leg shape was not lost on those who named it bestowing the section it turns at right angles to the north Foot Arm, which dutifully moves into Heel Cove and Toe Cove. Leg Head and Bend Point were similarly literally named. At nearby Charles Sound, the fiord branches into Emelius and Gold Arms at its head with Gold Arm being home to one of the most extensive marine reserves in the inner fiords (Kahukura Marine Reserve) while other sections are included in the Taumoana Marine Reserve. Your Captain and Expedition Leader is going to find a suitably sheltered anchorage for Heritage Explorer where activities could include kayaking or joining your expedition guides in a coastal exploration by Zodiac.

Day 6: Thompson and Doubtful Sounds

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
A short sail southwards brings you to the extensive sheltered waters of Thompson Sound, initially scouted for sheep farming suitability by early settlers in the 1850s and location Secretary Island, an iconic site in New Zealand conservation history as one of the first large islands declared rat free in 1988. You then explore some of the most spectacular scenery in all of Fiordland – Doubtful Sound, or the 'sound of silence' as it’s also known. Spanning some staggering 40-kilometres and holding the title as New Zealand’s deepest fiord, Doubtful Sound with its cloud-scraping wilderness cloaked mountains, sheer stone cliffs, waterfalls, inlets, quiet coves and wildlife presents nature on a scale so grand it’s off the chart. Photographic opportunities abound and our time spent here could include ship cruising Blanket Bay, the Shelter Islands, Pandora River, Deas Cove and Open Bay. Enjoy a farewell dinner with the team aboard Heritage Explorer.

Day 7: Doubtful Sound | Te Anau | Disembark

  • 1 Breakfast
This morning you navigate to the very head of Doubtful Sound in Deep Cove home to several waterfalls including Helena and Lady Alice Falls. After a final breakfast and farewells, head ashore where a transfer to Te Anau, via the picturesque Wilmot Pass, the road constructed as part of the Manapouri hydro scheme, awaits. In case of unexpected delays, you are ask not to book any onward travel from Te Anau until after 3pm this afternoon.

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 is going to keep you fully informed. Please note: Voyages are planned and scheduled pending final regulatory approval.

Ship/Hotel

Heritage Explorer

Heritage Explorer
Heritage Explorer
Heritage Explorer

Dates & Prices

My Preferred Start Date

Per person starting at
$3,950 2-3 travelers
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

- Single clients are matched with a sharer of the same sex in a twin-share cabin. Payment of a single supplement guarantees a single cabin. The single supplement is 1.8 times the price of the voyage with the exception of the suites which are double the single rate.
-Emergency medical evacuation coverage for a minimum of US$100,000 per person required. Contact us for details on arranging travel insurance.

TECHNICAL SPECS
Vessel Type; Expedition Yacht
Expedition Staff & Crew: 5
Guests: 18
Cabins: 10
Length: 30m
Breadth: 7.8m
Draft: 1.93m
Gross Tonnage: 76.1gt
Engine: 653 horsepower
Cruising Speed: 10 knots
Tenders: 2
Included
  • 6 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 6 Dinners
  • 6 Nights Accommodations
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Activities as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Access to a 24-7 Emergency line while traveling
  • House beer, wine and soft drinks with lunch and dinner
  • Landing fees
  • All expedition shore excursions
  • Programme of lectures by noted naturalists
  • Pre and post-cruise coach transfers
Excluded
  • Gratuities
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Flight costs (please request a quote)
  • Additional excursions during free time
  • Fuel and transportation surcharges (when applicable)
  • Required Visas if applicable
  • Laundry 
  • Mandatory medical evacuation insurance

Map

When to Go

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
Good to ideal period to travel, and many people choose to visit at this time.

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The trip might have been the absolute best of our lifetime (thus far). We particularly want to commend our guide Peter in the Guilin area-he was so incredibly attentive, energetic, enthusiastic-and absolutely dedicated to ensuring that our meals were 100% vegetarian.
Jack Charney
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