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Southern Heritage Sites Restoration Expedition

RealNZ is offering 24 people a rare opportunity to explore wild Fiordland by boat while giving back to this special place. By partnering with the Department of Conservation (DOC), the trip offers the chance to combine a five-night (18 – 23 Dec 2021) cruise to Fiordland’s stunning Tamatea Dusky Sound with learning about and getting involved in the area’s history and conservation.

The Southern Heritage Sites Restoration Expedition is the brainchild of RealNZ Chief Conservation Officer Paul Norris who saw a gap in the Discovery Expeditions’ busy schedule he could put towards conservation enabled by tourism.

“We know that more and more people now want sustainable, enriching travel choices that offer the chance to stay longer, travel slower, learn more and give back to the special places they visit – particularly New Zealanders discovering their country’s hidden gems.  The trip will require people who are reasonably fit and keen to do some conservation work but as always, we’ll also ensure they enjoy great food, and have time to relax, unwind and see this extraordinary corner of our country,” says Norris.

The trip offers a mixture of sightseeing, guided nature tours and restoration work. Tamatea/Dusky Sound’s geographical isolation has assisted it to remain one of the least modified parts of mainland New Zealand, with lush native bush cover and abundant wildlife.

Better known for nature than heritage, the area is rich in both Māori and European history. From traditional iwi stories, to Captain Cook's landing in 1773. Tamatea/Dusky Sound was also the site of one of the world’s first conservation reserves and New Zealand’s first conservation ranger, Richard Henry, in the late 19th century.

DOC Te Anau Principal Ranger Grant Tremain says some key heritage sites are in dire need of repair after DOC’s last scheduled maintenance trip had to turn back in August because of lockdown.

“These sites are incredibly difficult to access to maintain, so the offer from RealNZ, to provide volunteers, travel and accommodation on the Wanderer was really timely – otherwise we’d be really struggling now to get it done in time for summer,” says Tremain.

The sites where restoration work will take place on the trip are:

  • Pigeon Island - where New Zealand’s first wildlife ranger and bird conservationist Richard Henry, was based from 1894.
  • Astronomer’s Point – where an observatory was established by the Board of Longitude on Captain Cook’s second voyage in 1773.

Work would include fixing the boardwalks at Astronomer’s Point and putting down gravel to provide a more solid surface for people to walk on to the places of interest.

“New Zealanders are showing more interest in these places and, despite the effort required to get here, we’re seeing an increasing number of casual boats, charters so more people who create unintentional damage,” says Tremain. “Few can return from holiday to say they left the place better than when they arrived, but this trip offers people the chance to do just that, and enjoy an amazing travel experience.”

If successful, the plan is to run the trip annually for the next five years to complete the restoration of these sites. 

About the trip

Because of the short lead-in time this expedition, (which includes travel from Manapouri, all meals and accommodation for six days) is just $1599 per person.

The Department of Conservation will provide all the equipment required and two rangers to lead two teams of six on the restoration work.

RealNZ will provide two DOC-approved nature guides to lead the other teams of six – making a total of just 24 passengers.

If successful, the plan is to run the trip annually for the next five years to complete the restoration of these sites. 

 Trip Itinerary:

  • 18 Dec – travel from Manapouri to Deep Cove. Board overnight vessel the Wanderer and travel down the coast to Dusky Sound.
  • 19 – 22 Dec - working around the weather spend 2 days on restoration work and 2 days sightseeing Dusky Sound
  • 23 Dec – travel to Manapouri arriving back at 4pm.

For more information please email [email protected]