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.
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.
Dusky Sound Discovery Expeditions depart from the RealNZ Visitor Centre in Manapouri, 64 Waiau Street.
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 you there by coach.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Click on “Choose Date” and search for your preferred departure date, then follow the prompts to complete your booking via this website. Alternatively contact us on 0800 65 65 01 (Freephone within New Zealand), phone +64 3 249 6000 or email us at [email protected] and our Reservations team will assist you. Please note that for website bookings the full payment will be required to confirm your booking, whereas phone & email bookings can be secured with a non-refundable deposit, with the remaining balance due 120 days before departure.
We suggest you park your vehicle in the View Street car park, in Manapouri. This is free parking for unlimited time.
We offer courtesy transfers from Te Anau to Manapouri. For transfers from Queenstown, coach connections are available for an extra cost. Please contact us for further details.
All walks are optional. The Nature Guides provide a briefing prior to heading ashore so you can decide if you wish to join in. The walks are generally leisurely and not too strenuous, allowing you time to take in the area’s flora and fauna. Please note that the tracks are often muddy.
We recommend that you bring both gumboots and sandshoes/hiking/tramping boots. As we often do beach/shore landings where at the tide sweeps in/out and short walks, gumboots (preferably ones just below the knee) are ideal to stomp around in if the tracks are wet and boggy underfoot. The crew will advise you of what they recommend you wear on each adventure.
We ask all guests to keep any of their medication with them during the transfers as you may be separated from your main bags for some time (possibly hours). We also request hand luggage is limited to a day pack/handbag, camera, raincoat and your medication.
We recommend all our guests reconfirm 48 hours prior to departure and provide details of where you will be staying the night prior to departure, confirm your pickup point and departure time.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all included in the price of your trip. Complimentary tea and coffee is available throughout the cruise. We have an licensed bar on board the Milford Wanderer and these drinks are available for purchase.
We set up an account for you for the duration of your cruise and we accept cash, cheque or credit card payments.
We offer a discount for groups of 10 or more people. Please enquire about availability and bookings.
Yes, we offer returning Discovery Expeditions customers a 10% discount. Please enquire directly with us about making your booking to receive the discount.
We strongly prefer our guests to limit their luggage to 1 soft sided suitcase or backpack and 1 day pack (ie small backpack or handbag). Luggage is especially restricted for helicopter transfers.
Nearer the departure date, we will provide a detailed list of “what to bring”. However, we recommend our guests to bring gumboots / waterproof boots for onshore activities as it is often muddy on land and guest have to step into sea surge when going ashore.
The kayaks are available on all our Discovery Expedition departures – please ensure you talk to the crew onboard if you wish to go kayaking. Please note that all kayaking is weather and time dependent.
Due to RealNZ's commitment to the preservation of diminishing fish stocks, it is our company policy not to fish within the Fiordland waterways (in accordance with the Guardians of the Fiordland Fisheries). We therefore ask that you do not bring any fishing gear on board. However, if weather and timing permit, there may be an option to fish outside these areas (hand line and barbless hooks are provided, must adhere to quota).
We can cater for most food requests, ranging from celiac, gluten free, vegetarian and lactose intolerant. Unfortunately we cannot cater for Kosher. Please contact us to discuss any of your dietary requirements.
We have an licensed bar on board the Milford Wanderer and these drinks are available for purchase on-board. The Milford Wanderer is not licensed for BYO so please leave any alcohol at home.
Unfortunately we cannot cater to guests who wish to scuba dive on our vessel.