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Dusky Sound Discovery Expeditions

Follow in the footsteps of Captain Cook and explore an untouched world on a 5 day expedition

Cruise and discover the remote south-west fiords of Breaksea and Dusky Sounds at a pace that lets you connect with their rich and spectacular landscapes. With more than 350 islands, these incredibly beautiful fiords offer many idyllic spots for mooring and trips ashore.

Our 5 day Dusky Sound Discovery Expedition will also take you to Doubtful Sound, well known for its wildlife, including fur seals and a resident pod of bottlenose dolphins.

From aboard the purpose built Milford Wanderer you will cruise in the wake of Captain Cook on his historic 1773 voyage to seek out the hypothetical Terra Australis. With an on-board nature guide, great facilities and outstanding food prepared by our chef, you can be sure all your needs are well catered for.  

  • 5 day expedition options
  • Includes one-way or return heli-transfers
  • On-board specialist nature guides who provide informative commentary and evening talks
  • Guided walks through rainforest and along beautiful deserted shorelines
  • Visit historic sites and abandoned settlements
  • Tender craft and kayaks for exploration of the coastline
  • Coach connections from Te Anau and Queenstown at extra cost

More Information

Departures & Availability

Below is a list of departure dates with availability status.  We try to keep this as up-to-date as possible.  These cruise are very popular and do book out.  When the departure shows "limited spaces",  please call us on 0800 656501 for the latest number of cabins available for booking. Private Single Occupancy rooms also available, please contact us for pricing.

DEPARTS - RETURNS DURATION DETAILS PRICING AVAILABILITY
2021 departures:        
14 - 18 Oct 2021 5 days Heli + Cruise $3450 pp

Sold Out

21 - 25 Nov 2021 5 days Cruise + Heli $3450 pp

Sold Out

28 Nov - 2 Dec 2021 5 days Heli + Cruise $3450 pp

Sold Out

2022 departures:      

 

20 - 24 Mar 2022 5 days Cruise + Heli $3450 pp

Sold Out

24 - 27 Mar 2022 4 days Heli + Cruise + Heli $3450 pp

Limited Spaces

18 - 22 Sep 2022 5 days Cruise + Heli $3450 pp

Available

22 - 25 Sep 2022 4 days Heli + Cruise + Heli $3450 pp

Available

25 - 29 Sep 2022 5 days Heli + Cruise $3450 pp

Available

Departure Location

Dusky Sound Discovery Expeditions depart from the RealNZ Visitor Centre in Manapouri. 

Getting to Manapouri

Manapouri is about 3 hours from Queenstown and 30 minutes from Te Anau by road. You can self-drive or if you prefer, let us do the driving for you and get you there by coach. 

Milford Wanderer - your home in the fiords

Just because you’re escaping civilisation doesn’t mean you have to go without its comforts. Our vessel, the Milford Wanderer, is a modern motorised vessel that has been purpose-built for navigating southern New Zealand.

The Milford Wanderer​

Designed along the lines of a traditional sailing scow, it has old world charm combined with modern facilities and the latest in safety equipment. The Milford Wanderer offers "twin-share" compartments and shared bathroom facilities.

  • 32 passengers per departure
  • Warm, comfortable accommodation (two passengers per sleeping compartment)  
  • Duvets, sheets and towels provided
  • Modern shared bathroom facilities with hot showers 
  • Delicious meals prepared by onboard chef  
  • Open bridge policy - chat with the skipper during the voyage
  • Kayaks and small motorised craft available for passenger use

Sample Itinerary

True adventure doesn’t follow an itinerary.

Our crew are experts in the area with years of experience and ensure you are getting the very best bespoke experience.  Every night they will advise of the plan for the following day to give you plenty of time to take it in.  Weather, tides and sea conditions all play a role in the planning, as does the ability of the group.

Therefore, the sample journey is a general guide only, all trips are subject to change based on weather conditions and crew judgment and that’s what makes this expedition unique.

Where time allows, additional walks, tender craft exploration and kayaking activities are offered.

Dusky Sound - 4 days with Heli In and Out

Sample Journey

Day 1 - Cruise from RealNZ Manapouri Visitor Centre to West Arm of Manapouri. Helicopter to Sunday Cove in Breaksea Sound. Cruise down through the Acheron Passage to Dusky Sound where Captain Cook spent four weeks on his second voyage in 1773. Dusky Sound is 40 kilometres in length and eight kilometres wide at its widest point. Over three hundred islands lie in this Sound. As you cruise past Cooper Island , the third largest island in Dusky Sound, our guides will talk about the work that Real Journeys and Department of Conservation have done to work together in supporting a predator free New Zealand.  Enjoy on a kayak or a shore landing before heading to your anchorage for the night.

Day 2 - Begin your day with a morning kayak or for a shore landing at Supper Cove in some of the lushest rainforest in Fiordland as you embrace the remote setting of this Sound. After lunch, embark on a five-hour return hike on Cooper Island that is rewarded with magnificent views of nearly the full length of the fiord out to the coast. For a gentler experience, the tender craft will take you to explore remote parts of the island instead.

Day 3 - Continue to explore Dusky Sound as you start another day with a visit to early conservationist Richard Henry’s house site on Pigeon Island. Richard Henry was the caretaker of New Zealand’s first island wildlife sanctuary in the 19th century. Cruise down past Parrot and Pigeon Island toward Facile Harbour. This is where in 1795, the first shipwreck was recorded in New Zealand’s history. Cruise through Earshell Cove and the narrow channels of Resolution Island to The Basin for a walk or some kayaking. Travel the waterway of Dusky Sound visit Astronomers Point.  Astronomer’s Point is the site of a temporary observatory set up by William Wales to fix the position of New Zealand and calibrate the marine chronometers (clocks) that Captain Cook used for navigation.

Day 4 - Helicopter from Sunday Cove helipad to West Arm of Manapouri. Cruise across Lake Manapouri to complete your journey at the RealNZ Manapouri Visitor Centre late afternoon.

Dusky Sound - 5 days with heli-out

Please note this is a general guide only, all itineraries are subject to change based on weather conditions and crew judgement. In addition to below, there is also lots of cruising, and extra kayaking or walking where time allows!

Day 1 - Manapouri to Breaksea Sound
Cruise across Lake Manapouri and coach over stunning Wilmot Pass to Deep Cove, Doubtful Sound. Board the Milford Wanderer and cruise out of Doubtful Sound with a 3 hour sea passage to Breaksea Sound to conclude the day.

Day 2 - Breaksea Sound to Dusky Sound
Cruise through Acheron passage to Dusky Sound and visit the Shag Islands and Sportsman Cove. In the afternoon visit Luncheon Cove, the site of New Zealand’s first European and sealers settlement. Optional guided walk (2.5km) over predator free Anchor Island.

Day 3 - Explore Dusky Sound
Start the day with a visit to early conservationist Richard Henry’s house site on Pigeon Island. Cruise Facile harbour, site of NZ’s first known European shipwreck.  Cruise through Earshell Cove and the narrow channels of Resolution Island to The Basin for a walk or some kayaking.

Day 4 - Explore Dusky Sound
Visit Pickersgill Harbour and Astronomers Pt- named and used by Cook during his five week stay in 1773. Kayaking and cruising time.

Day 5 - Dusky Sound to Manapouri
Helicopter from Supper Cove helipad to West Arm of Manapouri. Cruise across Lake Manapouri to complete your journey at the RealNZ Manapouri Visitor Centre.

Dusky Sound – 5 days with heli-in

Please note this is a general guide only, all itineraries are subject to change based on weather conditions and crew judgement.In addition to below there is also lots of cruising, and extra kayaking or walking where time allows!

Day 1 - Manapouri to Dusky Sound
Cruise from RealNZ Manapouri Visitor Centre to West Arm of Manapouri. Helicopter to Supper Cove helipad to board the Milford Wanderer. Cruise through Acheron passage to Dusky Sound and visit the Shag Islands and Sportsman Cove.

Day 2 - Explore Dusky Sound
Visit Luncheon Cove, the site of New Zealand’s first European and sealers settlement. Optional guided walk (2.5km) over predator free Anchor Island. Visit Pickersgill Harbour and Astronomers Pt- named and used by Cook during his five week stay in 1773. Kayaking and cruising time.

Day 3 - Explore Dusky Sound
Start the day with a visit to early conservationist Richard Henry’s house site on Pigeon Island. Cruise Facile harbour, site of NZ’s first known European ship wreck.  Cruise through Earshell Cove and the narrow channels of Resolution Island to The Basin for a walk or some kayaking.

Day 4 - Dusky Sound to Doubtful Sound
Cruise through Acheron passage to Breaksea Sound and then a 3 hour sea passage to Doubtful sound.

Day 5 - Doubtful Sound to Manapouri
Cruise Doubtful Sound and Hall Arm. Leave the Milford Wanderer in Deep Cove and cross by coach over stunning Wilmot Pass.  Cruise across Lake Manapouri to complete your journey at the RealNZ Manapouri Visitor Centre.

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