Unseen Fiordland and Stewart Island
Unseen Fiordland and Stewart Island
Unseen Fiordland and Stewart Island

Unseen Fiordland and Stewart Island

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7 Days Small Ship Expedition Cruise

Departs Bluff - 24 November 2020

Join Innovative Travel and Heritage Expeditions for a unique destination and experience in authentic small ship expedition cruising. Tick this once-in-a-lifetime experience off your travel bucket list and explore remote parts of New Zealand's Southern region, an area known for its diverse range of wildlife and jaw-dropping scenery where you will discover the real Fiordland and Stewart Island.

Explore New Zealand's remote southern backyard on this special 7-day voyage. Discover the time-forgot rawness of wildlife-rich Stewart Island/Rakiura and primordial majesty of Fiordland where clouds scud the ragged peaks of glacier-cleaved mountains streaked with waterfalls only accessible by expedition ship, and the rare opportunity to combine both of these remarkable destinations on one voyage.

After departing Bluff you will set sail for Stewart Island, New Zealand's third largest island, and predator-free Ulva Island/Te Wharawhara. Rich in history and wildlife, these wild and remote islands are home to a unique range of birdlife including Bellbird, Tui, Kaka, Tomtit, Rifleman, Stewart Island Robin, Saddleback, Mohua and of course, the Stewart Island Brown Kiwi (or Southern Tokoeka). There will be opportunities to listen to the native bird song and stroll the golden sandy beaches, before taking the time to take a closer look at the history of Paterson Inlet.

Travelling south and cruise along the coast around South West Cape and the Muttonbird/Titi Islands, an archipelago of three rocky island chains named after the Sooty Shearwater which famously breed here. We hope to make several landings at these remote and sandy beaches and Zodiac cruise the coastline including Codfish Island/Whenua Hou with its history including sealing and, more recently, as one of the most important strongholds of critically-endangered Kākāpō on the planet.

As you expedition cruise up the lower west side of New Zealand's South Island, prepare for the grand scale scenery of Fiordland. Explore these remote ice-carved mountains, verdant forests and winding fiords. In the calm waters of Fiordland, and away from the crowds, you can expect to encounter playful New Zealand Fur Seals, curious Dusky Dolphins, elusive birds and enjoy endless stunning vistas.

During your time here it is planned to Zodiac cruise glittering waterways amid the podocarp forest-cloaked spines of Anchor and Resolution Islands and the tiny islands of Dusky Sound where orchids, flame-tipped Rata and clusters of alpine tree daisies put on an impressive floral display.

On predator-free Anchor Island, home to half the world's population of Kakapo as well as Little Spotted Kiwi, you will cross tannin-stained streams and walk around Lake Kirirua, its calm surface reflecting the forest-fringed edge, before arriving at historic Luncheon Cove - a location of New Zealand firsts including first sealing gang, first European settlement and first ship to be built in the country. Discover hidden inlets, coves and beaches as you make your way around Sportsman Cove and Zodiac cruise to explore the lush wilderness of Cooper Island and experience Fiordland from above with an optional helicopter extension.


  • Itinerary
  • Accommodation
  • Important Information

Day 1: Invercargill

Make your way to the Ascot Park Hotel, from where we will transfer you to the Port of Bluff, (reporting times and the departure time of the transfer will be confirmed with your voyage documents). The township of Bluff is situated on the north-eastern side of Bluff Hill, an extinct volcanic cone which forms a knoll at the southern end of the Bluff Peninsula which extends into Foveaux Strait. The captain and expedition team will be waiting for your arrival at the ship to greet you and show you to your cabin. You will have the opportunity to familiarise yourself on board and there will be formal introductions to the team followed by safety briefings. Join the captain on the bridge or fellow travellers on deck as we set sail for Stewart Island/Rakiura. Seabirds that we may encounter at this early point in the voyage include albatross, petrels, cormorants, gulls and Little Blue Penguins.

Days 2 to 3: Stewart Island/Rakiura

New Zealand’s third island is well off the usual beaten tourist track. It is a wonderfully tranquil place and with 85 per cent of the island designated national park, the scenery of untouched bushland is stunning. Despite its small stature on most maps, Stewart Island has 700-kilometres of coastline so there is much to explore and experience here. Enjoy the impressive bird song as we explore Ulva Island, rich in history and wildlife, which has been predator-free since 1997. Some of the wildlife you may get to see while walking its tracks and exploring Boulder and West End Beaches, Post Office Bay and Sydney Cove include Stewart Island Robin, Stewart Island Weka, South Island Kaka, Kereru (wood pigeon), Mohua (yellowhead), Red-crowned Parakeet, Fantail, Bellbird and Tui. There are many more species that may also be seen, our knowledgeable expedition guides will be listening for bird calls and keeping a close watch in overhead canopies and the surrounding shrubs to identify further species. In Paterson Inlet visit the historic Norwegian whaling station in Prices Inlet and Kaipipi Bay, where from 1923 and 1933 the Ross Sea Whaling Company of Sandefjord, Norway ran a repair base where chaser boats were serviced in preparation for the Antarctic summer. Discover quirky town centre Oban in Halfmoon Bay where a drink with a view can be enjoyed at the historic and iconic South Sea Hotel. Sailing south and around to the western side of the island, we will enjoy ship and Zodiac cruises along this rugged coastline with plans to land and explore some of the sandy beaches and surrounding, verdant wilderness. This area has a rich history of conservation, sealing and the ongoing practice of collecting Sooty Shearwater/Muttonbird chicks. The remote and wilderness fringed Mason Bay, a 19-kilometre sandy beach, holds great significance with Maori, was the site of determined early pioneering farmers and is home to the highest population of Kiwi in the world.

Days 4 to 6: Fiordland

We have three days to explore the incredible wilderness of fiords in the south-west corner of the South Island. This is an area rich in history, majestic scenery and abundant in wildlife. Fiordland was well known to local Maori people, with the demi-god Tu-te-raki-whanoa being said to have used his adze, Te Hamo, to carve out the region’s fiords. Captain Cook and his crew landed here on HMS Resolution in 1773, they were the first Europeans to visit Fiordland, subsequently spending five weeks in Dusky Sound. Cook’s records of his discovery and maps attracted sealers and whalers not long after who then formed the first European settlements of New Zealand, historically this region is very important and shaped the future of the country. Fiordland’s coast is only accessible by sea, making it the most remote region of New Zealand’s mainland. Waterfalls, streams, rivers and fiords are enveloped with misty veils that come and go, revealing steep gradients of mountain peaks and sheltered valleys. A rugged terrain, the thickly forested floors are covered with ferns, lichens and mosses. Bottlenose Dolphins, Fiordland Crested Penguins and Little Penguins are all residents of the fiords; during our time here we will look out for them.
Our schedule gives us the flexibility to visit as much as possible, areas we plan to visit during our time in Fiordland include Doubtful Sound, Dusky Sound and Acheron Passage, Astronomer’s Point and Pickersgill Harbour. During our time in Dusky Sound there will be the opportunity to experience an unforgettable helicopter flight through the Sound swooping down alongside Cooper Island and Cook Channel with a landing on Mt Pender where spectacular vistas across constellations of islands stretching into the horizon and dotting the winding fiords can be enjoyed.
Our final plan will be determined by the weather. The Captain and Expedition Leader will work hard to make the best use of our time in this incredible region of New Zealand, including areas that few New Zealanders have visited. The isolation of Fiordland has been beneficial because its beauty remains unspoiled and its historic sites undisturbed. On the evening of Night 6 we will enjoy a farewell and celebratory dinner with newfound friends with time to reflect on a wealth of new experiences and recap our adventure.

Day 7: Invercargill 

We arrive at the Port of Bluff early in the morning. After breakfast there will be a last minute opportunity to bid farewell to your expedition team as you disembark and board our complimentary coach transfer to either a central city point or to the airport. Our adventure ends but memories will last long beyond this. In case of unexpected delays due to weather and/or port operations we ask you not to book any onward travel from Invercargill until after midday today. During our voyage, circumstances may make it necessary or desirable to deviate from the proposed itinerary. This can include poor weather and opportunities for making unplanned excursions. Your Expedition Leader will keep you fully informed.


Pre/Post cruise transfers
All on board ship accommodation
Meals onboard
All expedition shore excursions as mentioned in the itinerary (excluding Helicopter excursion).


All items of a personal nature, laundry, drinks, gratuities and Helicopter Excursion. International/domestic flights, visas and travel insurance.

* Optional Helicopter Excursion (all prices in NZ$ per person): FROM $450.00pp

Accommodation based on the below or similar

Ship : Spirit of Enderby

The name Spirit of Enderby honours the work and the vision of the Enderby Brothers of London. The Enderby Captains were at the forefront of Antarctic exploration for almost 40 years in the early 1800s. It also celebrates Enderby Island, arguably the greatest Subantarctic Island in the world.

Technical description:

Classification: Russian register KM ice class
Year built: 1984
Accommodation: 50 berths
Shipyard: Finland
Main engines: power 2x1560 bhp (2x 1147 Kw)
Register: Russia
Maximum speed: 12 knots (2 engines),
Cruising speed: 10 knots(one engine)
Bunker capacity: 320 tons

PAYMENTS: A non-refundable deposit of 30% is required at the time of booking. The balance of the tour price is required 100 days prior to your travel date. If you book inside this period, full payment will be required at the time of booking. Payment can be made by bank transfer. If you cancel between 185 and 100 days prior to your travel date 30% of your tour cost will be charged. If you cancel within 100 days prior to your tour departure you will be charged 100% of your tour cost.

Innovative Travel recommends purchasing travel insurance.
For full terms and conditions refer to the Heritage Expeditions 2020-2021 Conservation and Adventure Expedition Cruising Brochure


Full Terms and conditions are listed on the Innovative Travel website. When a booking is made it is accepted that these are agreed to. They include the following: Itineraries are correct when initially published, however are subject to change due to circumstances outside our control.

Flights are the responsibility of the passenger and Innovative Travel takes no responsibility for costs involved for any changes to flights that might be required due to necessary amendments in itineraries.

Trip prices and dates are correct at the time of the website going live, however all offers are subject to reconfirmation at the time of booking. Note prices usually display available discounted rates if any, (eg. Early Bird Deals if applicable). All featured tour itineraries and offers maybe subject to change due to seasonal variations without notice, or due to local conditions or other conditions. Please confirm all details at time of booking. Travel insurance is mandatory for all Innovative Travel bookings. All passports must be valid for 6 months prior to your return to your home country. Visas are the responsibility of the traveller. For full terms and conditions, please refer to our Booking Conditions page.

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