Itineraries → New Zealand → Ultimate Fiordland
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Our newest voyage is a 12 night, South to North adventure starting in Queenstown, then onto Doubtful Sound to join the ship by helicopter. We thoroughly explore Pickersgill Harbour, Dusky and Breaksea Sound, Wet Jacket and Vancouver Arm before sailing north to enter Nancy, Charles, Caswell, George, Bligh before mighty Milford Sound. Here, after 10 nights onboard, we depart the ship by Helicopter for a once-in-a-lifetime flight out of Milford Sound to intriguing Glenorchy. The final night is at the Heritage Hotel in Queenstown where you are free to enjoy the lakeside town and surroundings at your leisure.
Peter (PJ) Montgomery, the noted NZ Americas Cup Sailing guru is hosting this inaugural departure on 1 February 2022. PJ will share some of his experiences and knowledge of these waters.
Arrival in Queenstown is always spectacular, especially by air. Your comfortable room and a warm welcome awaits at the Heritage Hotel. We recommend you plan enough time to explore this world-class alpine destination and enjoy dinner at one of the many restaurants beside the lake. It’s a beautiful location, and you’ll find numerous options to tempt you.
Soon after breakfast, we’ll have you out in the big scenery on a private coach trip to Lake Te Anau. You’ll have time to explore Te Anau township before boarding the helicopters for a 20-minute scenic flight to the ship. The helicopter flight is an experience-of-a-lifetime, a chance to take in the panoramic grandeur of Fiordland, before descending into the wild solitude of Doubtful Sound – and the helipad on Island Escape. Remember to have your camera ready. Once bags have been stored in your suite, we will ask you to gather on deck so our crew can acquaint you with the ship layout and run through a safety briefing. Your cruise begins! We make-way out towards the Tasman Sea along Doubtful Sound then down the coast to anchor for the evening in the sheltered and beautiful Dagg Sound. Chef has prepared a welcome dinner that is served alfresco.
Our journey starts to delve into the early history and exploration of Fiordland. We depart Dagg Sound after breakfast heading south. Whales frequent the waters near the fiord entrance and a great place to spot them is from the bridge deck. As we enjoy lunch in Dusky Sounds, the Captain will give an orientation of the history of the area and on the life of Captain James Cook and his visits to this part of New Zealand. After lunch we head ashore in Pickersgill to explore the area Captain Cook beached his ship Resolution here in 1773 to repair her hull. Nearby is Astronomers Point, the site of a temporary observatory set up during Cook’s stay.
Wake to the smells of a hearty breakfast, following which, we head inland to the head of Dusky Sound and Supper Cove. This cove is the western trailhead for one of New Zealand’s greatest wilderness hikes – the Dusky Track. Further we visit Cascade Cove, Cook Channel, Fanny Bay and Nine Fathom Passage. The captain continues his talk over lunch where you will be acquainted with the long-running moose story. In the afternoon we take the Zodiacs ashore to visit the Seaforth Hut and perhaps explore the Seaforth River by Zodiac or on foot.
After breakfast we proceed to peaceful Sportsman’s Cove for morning tea and more history from the captain. The focus remains on Cook and his journeys of exploration – and the ongoing Fiordland moose story. Lunch served underway, and with a renewed taste for adventure, we take the Acheron Passage north and head up Wet Jacket Arm to Herrick Creek. There have been moose sightings reported in this area – have your cameras ready. We anchor off Oke Island for the night.
We follow the inland Acheron Passage heading for Disappointment Cove at the mouth of Breaksea Sound. Look out for seals close to shore and dolphins approaching the ship. Today’s lunch time talk focuses on conservation – the history and efforts to mitigate the impact of introduced fauna to Fiordland. We stop at Sunday Cove for afternoon tea and an introduction to the local venison industry. We stay overnight further up Breaksea Sound in Third Cove, below Mount Kellard at the mouth of Vancouver Arm.
We explore Vancouver and Broughton Arms today. For those who like to fish, the one of the Officers is available for fishing trips throughout the day, hopefully, to restock our dinner supplies with fresh crayfish and blue cod. Non-fishers can go ashore to explore the intertidal shoreline and bush at a SW corner of Broughton Arm. Fresh fish for dinner is virtually guaranteed. Feel free to relax and take in the view from the jacuzzi on Island Escape’s top deck. On clear evenings this is the perfect place for some stargazing into a pure dark sky.
The lush vertiginous beauty of Nancy Sound greets you today. From our anchorage, you can relax and enjoy the views from the yacht or join trips to explore the pristine shoreline of the fjord. You may be lucky enough to gather a crayfish with the help of the one of the crew or catch a fish at the head of the sound. After lunch, we set off north to explore the two arms of Charles Sound. It’s one of our favourite spots – the untouched natural beauty is awe-inspiring. You can join the crew in one of our Zodiacs for a trip up the Irene River that flows into the Emelius Arm of the sound. We spend the evening at the head of Charles Sound – enjoying dinner, the spectacular views and sharing some fascinating local histories.
At Caswell Sound you can join a fishing trip to the head of the fiord with the one of the crew, hopefully, to restock our dinner supplies with fresh crayfish and blue cod. Alternatively, you can stay on board, read a book or chat with fellow passengers. A stroll along the beach near the Stillwater river mouth is very pleasant before dinner is served on deck. Tonight, we are at anchor in these gorgeous surroundings.
After breakfast, we head on to George Sound, the longest fiord in northern Fiordland, to see the beautiful Alice Waterfalls. For those up for a good walk and breath-taking views, you can go ashore and take the track up above the falls to Alice Lake. Halfway along the fiord, we arrive at Anchorage Cove at the mouth of the George River, a great spot to relax and enjoy a stroll along the deserted foreshore. We lay at anchor here overnight, and have dinner while enjoying the views of the beautiful Alice Falls and the majestic peaks that flank the sound.
This fiord is an interesting Z-shape, named after William Bligh (of Mutiny on the Bounty fame), the then Governor of New South Wales. We anchor at beautiful Amazon Cove for lunch, then head ashore to explore and hear fascinating histories of lost tribes and the Wild Natives River. This evening we enjoy a fabulous dinner hosted by the captain and the crew in the heart of the Fiordland wilderness.
We depart Bligh Sound and travel north again to explore world-famous Milford Sound. Cruising up the Sound, making stops to take in the splendour at some of the sound’s many cascading waterfalls along the way. Circling through Harrison Cove, we reach perhaps the visual climax of our cruise, an iconic New Zealand vista, Mitre Peak. After an early lunch the helicopters arrive and we fly through some of the most stunning scenery on earth, to arrive at Glenorchy Airport. Our private coach will be waiting to take us back to Queenstown. The road from Queenstown to Glenorchy runs alongside the shimmering blue Wakatipu Lake, the mountains provide the perfect backdrop while the drive takes you through the forest and along cliff edges, with a new spectacular view around every bend. We have you back at the Heritage Hotel by late afternoon.
Your itinerary concludes with breakfast. We wish you safe travels, taking home with you memories of adventure, great food, good company and vast, unspoiled New Zealand.