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Doubtful and Dusky Sounds: Exploring Fiordland's Finest

Example 5 Day Cruise aboard Heritage Explorer
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Established in 1952, New Zealand's Fiordland National Park is now over 1.2 million hectares in size and rightly famous for its epic, grand scale scenery, untamed wilderness and unique wildlife including Bottlenose Dolphins, Fiordland Crested Penguins and New Zealand Fur Seals. However, Fiordland is also rich in natural history, geology and the location of some historical firsts and important restoration and conservation projects. It was our early exploration of these rarely visited and remote ice-carved mountains, verdant forests and winding fiords rich in wildlife, conservation and history which inspired our dream for responsible travel. For this special expedition we have paired two of the most remote, hard to reach and spectacular of Fiordland's destinations on the one voyage.
Te Anau panoramic viewTe Anau, New Zealandcruising at Doubtful SoundAmazing Doubtful Soundbeautiful nature view
  • Experience the primordial majesty of Fiordland's iconic Doubtful and Dusky Sounds
  • Visit along the shorelines of World Heritage Area Dusky Sound
  • Explore these remote ice-carved mountains, verdant rainforests in Fiordland
  • Sail through the calm waters of Fiordland in solitude
Trip Type:
  • Small Ship
Activity Level: Relaxed

Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Te Anau/Doubtful Sound

Meet with your fellow expeditioners in Te Anau before traveling across Lake Manapouri and over the Wilmot Pass to Deep Cove in Doubtful Sound (times and meeting point will be confirmed with your voyage documents). 

Day 2: Doubtful and Breaksea Sounds

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
After a quiet night aboard, continue to explore the most spectacular scenery in all of Fiordland – Doubtful Sound, or the sound of silence as it’s also known. Spanning about 40-kilometres and 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. Sailing along the Fiordland coast towards the extensive protected waters that are Breaksea and Dusky Sounds, join your naturalists on deck to spot seabirds including the majestic Wandering and Buller’s Albatross. Breaksea Island guards the entrance to Breaksea Sound, it was here that the first successful island rat eradication program was completed and today Breaksea Island is a protected nature reserve of great significance to the many endangered species which call the island home.

Day 3: Breaksea Sound/Acheron Passage

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
We explore our way through the waters of Breaksea Sound and the Acheron Passage, Resolution Island is separated from the mainland by the scenic waters of Acheron Passage and at the southern end of the passage we enter Dusky Sound, be sure to be on the lookout for resident Bottlenose Dolphins as we navigate. This afternoon you might like to join the chefs fishing for tonight’s dinner, or take the kayaks for a shoreline exploration. Our time here may include venturing into Wet Jacket Arm where the crew of Cook’s Resolution ended up with wet jackets during their survey work. It is also the sight where Moose were released, and last seen, in New Zealand.

Day 4: Dusky Sound

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Visit Luncheon Cove on Anchor Island, where the first European boat was built in New Zealand. Take a short walk or explore along the coastline and be amazed by the birdlife with South Island Saddleback, Robins, Yellowhead and Parakeets in abundance on the island thanks to its predator free status. It was on nearby Pigeon Island pioneering conservationist Richard Henry was based during his time in Dusky Sound. At Astronomers Point there may be the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of Captain Cook and his astronomer William Wales as it was here that the Resolution was moored during their time in Dusky Sound. Our expedition cruise through Dusky Sound visits the some of the most significant historical and conservation sites in New Zealand, as well as offering some of the most majestic scenery in New Zealand as we sail deep into the heart of Fiordland.

Day 5: Dusky Sound/Te Anau

  • 1 Breakfast
This morning Heritage Explorer sails to Supper Cove at the very head of Dusky Sound, it is a last opportunity for you to bask in the majesty of the fiords, then take in the grand views and awe-inspiring scenery as you enjoy a spectacular helicopter transfer back to Te Anau. 


Heritage Explorer

Heritage Explorer
Heritage Explorer
Heritage Explorer

Dates & Prices

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Heritage Explorer Buller's cabin
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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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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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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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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.


Landing fees, pre cruise coach transfer and post cruise helicopter transfer, 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$.

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


When to Go

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


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We are so glad that we chose Adventure Life. The service is top-notch. Everything is well taken care of and we just have to print the documents and go. Franny even gave us timely updates on possible airport strike.
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