RealNZ have teamed up with the Department of Conservation (DOC) to offer a Southern Fiordland Discovery Expedition like no other. On this unique cruise, you'll learn about DOC's conservation efforts in Fiordland and get your hands dirty with various restoration projects along the way.
Embark on a 7 day voyage around New Zealand's most remote and beautiful fiords. Explore the likes of Dusky Sound, Preservation Inlet, and Doubtful Sound onboard the iconic Milford Wanderer vessel. 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.
15 - 21 December 2022
17 - 23 December 2023
This expedition departs from the RealNZ Manapouri Visitor Centre, 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 for you and get 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 - Manapouri to West Arm
Start your journey with a 10am cruise across picturesque Lake Manapouri to West Arm. Helicopter in to Supper Cove, Dusky Sound and board your new home for the week, the Milford Wanderer. Spend the remainder of the day traversing Dusky Sound and Sportmans Cove.
Day 2 - Explore Preservation Inlet
Spend the morning cruising to Preservation Inlet, the Southernmost Fiord of Fiordland. Stretch your legs on the fiords unsheltered coastlines and extensive beaches, then enjoy a leisurely walk to Puysegur Point Lighthouse. Learn its rich history and listen to stories about the day-to-day lives of the past lighthouse keepers.
Day 3/4 - Visit Historic Restoration Sites
The following two days will involve various historic site visits, restoration projects and guided nature walks. Projects will vary depending on weather but you can expect a mixture of track clearing and upgrading in historic site locations. Day 4 will conclude with a cruise into Dusky Sound.
Day 5 - A Day in Dusky Sound
Discover the vast beauty of Dusky Sound by water and land. Visit early conservationist Richard Henry’s house site on Pigeon Island, walk through predator free Anchor Island and stop by Astronomers Point. Dusky Sound is 40km long, 8km wide and has over 300 islands, so there's plenty of areas to explore.
Day 6 - Dusky to Doubtful Sound
Begin your day with a shore landing or kayak activity and then cruise into the remote wilderness of Doubtful Sound. Your onboard nature guides will help spot some of the local wildlife including fur seals, bottlenose dolphins and Fiordland crested penguins.
Day 7 - Doubtful Sound to Manapouri
On the final day, cruise Doubtful Sound and Hall Arm. Leave the Milford Wanderer in Deep Cove and cross by coach over the stunning Wilmot Pass. Cruise across Lake Manapouri to complete your journey at the RealNZ Manapouri Visitor Centre around 4.30pm.
In case you haven't found the information you were looking for, we've put together some of the most common questions our customers ask about our trips. If you need more specific answers, please contact us directly.
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 set up an account for you for the duration of your cruise and we accept cash, cheque or credit card payments.
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.
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.