Discovery Expeditions Explore Southern Fiordland
A small boat cruises through a moody Dusky Sound A small boat cruises through a moody Dusky Sound
Discovery Expeditions
Dusky Sound, Fiordland

This is what a multi-day cruise in the remotest parts of New Zealand looks like

Date: 8 April 2024

Is it a holiday? Yes. And a cruise? Completely. And it’s a breathtaking, invigorating adventure into untouched Aotearoa New Zealand wilderness? Absolutely. For those wanting to really find out what New Zealand’s nature is capable of, step away from the day trips and roadies, and step onto a Discovery Expedition. Read on to find out what exactly goes down on a multi-day cruise through the vast, uninhabited stretches of southern New Zealand, and how almost anyone can experience it too.

Why a Discovery Expedition? 

If you’re looking to spend some needed time in nature with 5-7 days to kill, you might be thinking about what multi-day hike to embark on, what great walk to tick off the growing list, and how to fit in recovery time afterwards.  

Or you could embark on a Discovery Expedition and explore more remote terrain than any combination of hikes. And the cherry on top? No huts, no camping, and no dehydrated dinners. Only the pure comfort of your vessel’s cabin to return to every evening with a satisfied stomach, full of chef-cooked meals. 

Discovery Expeditions are the answer to the common conundrum many of us face, who want to scratch that itch of going off-grid and recharge, but don’t have the time or energy to commit to accessing the remote outdoors. Discovery Expedition Cruises can helicopter you to your choice of remote southern location, followed by multiple days of cruising or sailing around beautiful fiords or coastline. And if it wasn’t exciting enough, there are opportunities to embark on land and on-water adventures with heaps of insight from nature guides to match.  

Milford Wander cruising through remote Fiordland on multi-day expedition

Discover adventure in the south 

New Zealand is known for its epic wilderness with almost 80% of its total landmass uninhabited by humans. Not great for finding a public toilet, but incredible for exploring completely untouched nature. The tricky part is usually finding a way to access these remote locations. Discovery Expeditions have found ways to get keen explorers into these secluded spots. Whether you want to explore the intricate arms of Fiordland or traverse the shores of Stewart Island, there’s a remote part of the south of New Zealand that has your name written on it. 

So where can you go, and what can you do? We’ve summarised the top three Discovery Expeditions to embark on when you have a few days to spend in the great outdoors.  

Preservation Inlet Discovery Expeditions 

Where: Doubtful Sound, Breaksea Sound, Dusky Sound, Preservation Inlet, and Chalky Inlet, with a 1-way helicopter transfer in or out. 

How long: 7 days of exciting travel and adventure. 

Discount: Save $500pp with promo code Discovery500 at checkout when you book before April 30, valid for all 2024 departures. 

What: The Preservation Inlet Discovery Expedition is the cream of the expedition crop. Over 7 days, adventurers uncover five of New Zealand’s southernmost and rarely visited fiords. Travelling where no roads lead, you’ll spend the week cruising in and out of the Fiordland coastline aboard the Milford Wanderer. This vessel is your home for the week, and it’s equipped with everything your comfort would need. Think twin compartments, cosy beds, modern communal bathroom facilities and delicious meals prepared by your onboard chef. You have the option to disembark frequently to head out on guided walks through the temperate rainforests, shores, and the historic sites Fiordland is known for, and explore the water by kayak and small boat.  

Best for: The visiting the home of a variety of native wildlife. With so much time spent in Fiordland, your chances of spotting some of New Zealand’s rare and incredible native wildlife will increase – this could be your moment to spot whales breaching the waters, bottlenose dolphins dancing, kea, kākāriki, and NZ fur seal too.  

The southern fiords are also home to some significant historical locations, such as areas where early whalers and miners settled. This cruise will even trace a part of the route Captain Cook took in his 1773 voyage and don’t worry - your onboard nature guide will make sure you won’t miss a thing. 

Read more about the day-by-day itinerary.  

Dusky Sound Discovery Expeditions 

Where: Doubtful Sound, Breaksea Sound, Dusky Sound with a 1-way helicopter transfer in or out. 

How long: 5 days of adventure at your own pace 

Discount: Save $500pp with promo code Discovery500 at checkout when you book before April 30, valid for all 2024 departures. 

What: The Dusky Sound Discovery Expedition explores the untouched world of the southern fiords at an unhurried pace that allows you to spend time connecting to the rich, vast landscapes. With a choice of one-way, or return heli transfers into Fiordland, you have the option to make your trip as efficient as possible, giving you more time to soak up your surroundings. 

During your 5 days cruising throughout the fiords, you’ll pass by over 350 islands, some of which you might step ashore and explore, paddle past on a kayak, or explore the coast of on tender craft.  

You’ll also be exploring the home of the resident bottlenose dolphin pod, so sightings of our playful marine animals are on average higher than in some other fiords. Your onboard nature guide will make sure you don’t miss out on any antics, as well as from other local wildlife, like Fiordland crested penguins, NZ fur seals, and whales. 

Best for: An unhurried expedition. At the end of every day’s adventure, you’ll settle back aboard the Milford Wanderer, where you can settle into a warm mug of hot tea or coffee, or a local beverage from the onboard bar, before being treated to your night’s dinner from the chef. Equipped with every comfort you might need, you’ll be snug as a bug when the night ends, in cosy twin cabins.  

Read more about the day-by-day itinerary.  

Stewart Island Discovery Expeditions  

Where: Around the coast of Rakiura Stewart Island. 

How long: Choice of 5 or 6 days of exploration 

Discount: Save $500pp with promo code Discovery500 at checkout when you book before April 30, valid for all 2024 departures. 

What: The Stewart Island Discovery Expedition is the ultimate multi-day cruise for anyone who loves nature, wilderness, and rare New Zealand birdlife. The journey begins on a ferry from Bluff to Oban, before continuing aboard the Milford Wanderer, which cruises around the coast of New Zealand’s southernmost island. Aboard this adventure, you’ll explore the huge Rakiura National Park that dominates almost the entirety of the island with protected forests, golden sand beaches, and rocky outcrops. Every drop-off ashore will guarantee your exploring remote, untamed wilderness by foot, by kayak, or by small boat.  

Don’t forget – for this expedition, you’ll be aboard the Milford Wanderer, which is your home away from home, fitted with everything you need for a comfortable stay. With twin compartments, delicious chef-cooked meals, an onboard bar, and unlimited teas and coffees, exploring the backcountry has never felt so comfortable. 

Best for: Spotting and listening to the song of rare, native birdlife. With frequent walks ashore, you’ll be honed into listening for specific birdsong from native, endangered birds. If you’re here for the remote, secluded wilderness and walking where few people ever tread, you’ll be an enthusiastic birdwatcher by the end of the week.  

Read more about the day-by-day itinerary 

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