On arrival in Queenstown you will be met and transferred to The Rees Hotel, located just 5 kilometres from the airport and only 2.5 kilometres from Queenstown City Centre. Relish a ½ bottle of sparkling wine and local cheese platter on arrival. Enjoy three nights at this lovely lakeside property and discover the many wonders and exhilarating activities Queenstown has to offer. On one day during your stay, explore the region on a full day wine tour, visiting up to 4 different wineries. Queenstown is renowned for its diverse range of activities, with plenty to do for people of all ages; such as cruises on Lake Wakatipu, scenic helicopter flights, kayaking, jet-boating, white-water rafting, wine tours, hiking or even golf. The hotel is also home to the award-winning True South Dining Room that offers mouth-watering, locally sourced dishes that change each month. Meals are accompanied by a fine selection of wines from the onsite cellar, that houses one of the most comprehensive collections of fine Bordeaux wines in the Southern Hemisphere. Guests can also enjoy a drink in the beautiful Bordeaux Wine Lounge.
Te Anau/Preservation Inlet
This morning you will be transferred to the meeting point in Te Anau, approximately a 2 hour drive from Queenstown. From here you will be transferred by helicopter to join the Heritage Explorer moored in Preservation Inlet (exact times TBC). On arrival you will be met by the Captain and Expedition Leader who will show you to your cabin. Take some time to settle into life onboard before setting sail along Long Sound, enjoying your first look at the incredible scenery.
Today is dedicated to exploring Preservation Inlet. The inlet is rich in history and you will learn about the fascinating early gold mining and forestry activity during the 1890’s. More than 2,500 gold miners and saw millers once made this now quiet waterway a bustling hub of activity. The once busy mining towns of Cromarty and Te Oneroa have now been reclaimed by nature, but there are still a few visible structures – including the three-storey chimney at the failed Tarawera Mine and Smelter that was restored in 2015. Preservation Cove also claims to have one of the country’s most remote lighthouses at Puysegur Point. The lighthouse began operating in 1879 and sits some 40-feet above the south island’s most south-westerly point. There is also a beautiful coastal walk (formerly a telegraph track) that leads to an old landing shed.
The entrance to Chalky Inlet is guarded by the impressive limestone cliffs of Chalky Island, the inspiration behind Captain Cook’s naming of the fiord. One of several important predator free islands in the inlet, Chalky Island is home to some of New Zealand’s most critically endangered bird species including the Little Spotted Kiwi, the Kakapo and the endemic Te Kakahu Skink – that was only discovered in 2002. The protected harbours at North and South ports offer plenty of opportunities to explore. North Port is the final resting place of the rusting hulk of the GSS Stella which was grounded on purpose, while South Port reveals an industrial past with the remnants of once prolific sawmilling activity. As you sail towards the heads of the fiord, the mountain scenery is at its best.
Over the following two days enjoy leisurely expedition cruises through Dusky Sound, visiting some of the most significant historical and conservation sites in New Zealand. Marvel at the majestic scenery as the vessel heads deep into the heart of Fiordland. Acheron Passage, which separates Resolution Island from the mainland, is sure to be one of the highlights. Another predator-free island, Anchor Island is home to half of the world’s population of Kakapo and Little Spotted Kiwi. It is also the location of historic Luncheon Cove and a number of New Zealand firsts including; the building of New Zealand’s first European homestead and first European designed ship, the 16-metre Providence, launched in 1795. Nearby on Pigeon Island learn the history of Richard Henry and his pioneering life – transferring birds to island refuges – an international first in wildlife conservation. While his attempts were unsuccessful (due to stoats swimming over to the island), the island is now pest free and a sanctuary for native birdlife.
Dagg & Doubtful Sounds
After a quiet night aboard surrounded by the nature and wilderness of the Breaksea Sound, join your naturalists on deck to spot seabirds including the majestic Wandering and Buller’s Albatross as you pass Breaksea Island, which guards the entrance to Breaksea Sound. It was on Breaksea Island that the first successful island rat eradication program was completed, today it is a protected nature reserve of great significance to the many endangered species which call the island home. From here sail onwards towards some of the most spectacular scenery in all of Fiordland – Doubtful Sound, or the sound of silence as it’s also known. Spanning some staggering 40-kilometres and holding the title as New Zealand’s deepest fiord, Doubtful Sound with its cloud-scraping wilderness cloaked mountains, sheer cliffs, waterfalls, inlets, quiet coves and wildlife presents nature on a scale so grand it’s off the chart. This evening enjoy a farewell dinner.
This morning the Captain navigates to the very head of Doubtful Sound in Deep Cove home to several waterfalls including Helena and Lady Alice Falls. After a final breakfast and farewells, head ashore for your transfer to Te Anau, via the picturesque Wilmot Pass, the road constructed as part of the Manapouri hydro scheme. On arrival in Te Anau, you will be met and transferred to the Rees Hotel in Queenstown.
Tour Ends, Queenstown
This morning after breakfast, please check out of your hotel. Tour ends.
Please note: In case of unexpected delays, we ask you not to book any onward travel from Te Anau until after 3pm this afternoon.
Please note: 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. Voyages are planned and scheduled pending final regulatory approval.
B= Breakfast | L = Lunch | D = Dinner