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Preservation Inlet Discovery Expeditions

The ultimate voyage of discovery - explore 5 of New Zealand's most isolated fiords on 7 day cruise

Join us on the ultimate voyage of discovery on an exploration of five of New Zealand’s southernmost and seldom visited fiords; Chalky and Preservation Inlets as well as the stunning Doubtful, Dusky and Breaksea Sounds.

Preservation and Chalky inlets offer remote wind-swept coastlines and grand sweeping beaches.  In the past, the natural harbours in this area attracted early whalers and miners. Only a few traces of their attempts to tame the landscape still remain. You’ll experience the extreme isolation of this inspirational wilderness, its beauty, wildlife and fascinating history.

From aboard the purpose-built Milford Wanderer you will trace the route Captain Cook took during his historic 1773 voyage to seek out the hypothetical Terra Australis. During your cruise, you will land on beautiful beaches and spend time exploring the coastline via tender craft and kayak. View the island sanctuary set aside by New Zealand’s first conservationist Richard Henry and enjoy the rich wildlife you will encounter on the cruise.

With on-board nature guides, great facilities and outstanding food, all your needs are catered for against an awe-inspiring natural backdrop.

  • 7 day expedition cruise of Doubtful, Breaksea and Dusky Sounds and Preservation and Chalky Inlets (with 1-way helicopter transfer included)
  • 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

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.

Preservation Inlet – 7 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, 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 - Dusky Sound to Chalky Inlet
Visit Pickersgill Harbour and Astronomers Pt - named and used by Cook during his five week stay in 1773. Three hour sea passage to Chalky Inlet. Walk on the beach at South Port visiting the old sawmill site. Anchor at North Port near the rusting hulk of the 1800s government steam ship “Stella”.

Day 5 - Chalky Inlet to Preservation Inlet
In the morning visit the town site of Cromarty and the mining relics of Te Oneroa with the option of a 5km return walk to Puysegur Point Light House in afternoon.

Day 6 - Preservation Inlet
Visit Tarawera smelter’s reclining brick chimney and the site of NZ’s first operational whaling station at Cuttle Cove. Take in the golden beaches of Spit Island.

Day 7 - Preservation Inlet to Manapouri
Helicopter from Weka Island Barge to West Arm of Manapouri – flights commencing from 11am.  Visit the underground power station* then cruise across Lake Manapouri to complete your journey at the RealNZ Manapouri Visitor Centre.

(*The Manapouri Underground Power Station is currently closed to public access).

Preservation Inlet – 7 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 Preservation Inlet
Cruise from RealNZ Manapouri Visitor Centre to West Arm of Manapouri. Helicopter to Weka Island Barge to board the Milford Wanderer and cruise Preservation Inlet.

Day 2 - Explore Preservation Inlet
In the morning visit the town site of Cromarty and the mining relics of Te Oneroa with the option of a 5km return walk to Puysegur Point Light House in afternoon. 

Day 3 - Preservation Inlet to Chalky Inlet
Visit Tarawera smelter’s reclining brick chimney and the site of NZ’s first operational whaling station at Cuttle Cove. Take in the golden beaches of Spit Island. Cruise to Chalky Inlet, anchoring at North Port near the rusting hulk of the 1800s government steam ship “Stella”.

Day 4 - Chalky Inlet to Dusky Sound
Walk on the beach at South Port visiting the old saw mill site.  Three hour sea passage to Dusky Sound. Visit Pickersgill Harbour and Astronomers Pt - named and used by Cook during his five week stay in 1773.

Day 5 - 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 6 - Dusky Sound to Doubtful Sound
In the morning visit Luncheon Cove, the site of New Zealand’s first European and sealers settlement. Optional guided walk (2.5km) over predator free Anchor Island. Cruise through Acheron passage to Breaksea Sound and then a 3 hour sea passage to Doubtful sound.

Day 7 - Doubtful Sound to Manapouri
Cruise Doubtful Sound and lunch in Hall Arm. Leave the Milford Wanderer in Deep Cove and cross by coach over the stunning Wilmot Pass.  Visit the underground power station* then cruise across Lake Manapouri to complete your journey at the RealNZ Manapouri Visitor Centre.
(*The Manapouri Underground Power Station is currently closed to public access).

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.

2021 Departures

  • 24 - 30 Oct 2021 - Heli Out - Available
  • 30 Oct - 5 Nov 2021 - Heli In - Sold Out
  • 7 - 13 Nov 2021 - Heli Out - Available
  • 13 - 19 Nov 2021 - Heli In - Limited Spaces
  • 5-11 Dec 2021 - Heli Out - Sold Out
  • 11 - 17 Dec 2021 - Heli In - Sold Out

2022 Departures

  • 9 - 15 Jan - Heli Out - Sold Out
  • 15 - 21 Jan - Heli In - Sold Out
  • 23 - 29 Jan - Heli Out - Sold Out
  • 29 Jan - 4 Feb - Heli In - Sold Out
  • 6 - 12 Feb - Heli Out - Sold Out
  • 12 - 18 Feb - Heli In - Sold Out
  • 20 - 26 Feb - Heli Out - Sold Out
  • 26 Feb - 4 Mar - Heli In - Sold Out
  • 6 - 12 Mar - Heli Out - Sold Out
  • 12 - 18 Mar - Heli In - Sold Out
  • 3 - 9 Apr - Heli Out - Sold Out
  • 9 - 15 Apr - Heli In - Sold Out
  • 17 - 23 Apr - Heli Out - Sold Out
  • 23 - 29 Apr - Heli In - Sold Out
  • 1 - 7 May - Heli Out - Sold Out
  • 7 - 13 May - Heli In - Sold Out
  • 15 - 21 May - Heli Out - Sold Out
  • 21 - 27 May - Heli In - Sold Out
  • 7 - 13 Aug - Heli Out - Available
  • 13 - 19 Aug - Heli In - Available
  • 21 - 27 Aug - Heli Out - Available
  • 27 Aug - 2 Sep - Heli In - Available
  • 4 - 10 Sep - Heli Out - Limited Spaces
  • 10 - 16 Sep - Heli In - Available
  • 2 - 8 Oct - Heli Out - Available
  • 8 - 14 Oct - Heli In - Available
  • 16 - 22 Oct - Heli Out - Available
  • 22 - 28 Oct - Heli In - Sold Out
  • 30 Oct - 5 Nov - Heli Out - Available
  • 5 - 11 Nov - Heli In - Available
  • 13 - 19 Nov - Heli Out - Available
  • 19 - 25 Nov - Heli In - Available
  • 27 Nov - 3 Dec - Heli Out - Available
  • 3 - 9 Dec - Heli In - Available

Departure Location

Preservation Inlet 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

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