Your Stewart Island, Fiordland & Coastal Gems Package

Stewart Island, Fiordland & Coastal Gems

Coral Expeditions

 

  17 Nights

  New Zealand

  Coral Expeditions

  PA1AU6J7




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Discover the captivating coastline of New Zealand’s South Island that abounds with marine life as we make our way to the deep and quiet fiords of Murihiku (Southland). This journey explores New Zealand’s charming east coast towns and will discover wildlife in their natural habitats along the way, including legions of bird species.

Aboard Coral Geographer, experience New Zealand from a different perspective with the ability to customise your expedition from a choice of all-inclusive experiences ranging from walks through historic cities to wilderness hikes guided by our knowledgeable expedition team. Enjoy access to remote and difficult-to-reach wilderness areas within the Marlborough Sounds and Fiordland and visit sheltered coves and islands to find fur seals, kakapos, and pods of friendly dolphins.

Your fly, stay and cruise package includes:

  • $500 air credit per person
  • 2 nights accommodation in Wellington
  • Private transfers in Wellington
  • 10 night New Zealand South Island cruise onboard Coral Geographer
  • Your cruise includes services of an expert expedition team
  • All excursions, including Xplorer & zodiac cruises, & local operator excursions at some locations
  • All meals, prepared fresh by our chefs and showcase wines, selected beers and soft drinks
  • 24 hour coffee and selection of teas
  • Captain’s Welcome and Farewell Events, and Open Bridge Access with the Captain
  • Guided sightseeing in each destination
  • All entrance fees to National Parks and Ports
  • Post cruise transfer to Queenstown
  • 5 nights accommodation in Queenstown
  • 5 day car hire of a Suzuki Swift Auto or similar

***Rate based on twin share for travel 19 January to 05 February 2024.***

 

The below is just an indication of the destinations we visit and activities on offer. During the expedition we may make changes to the itinerary as necessary to maximise your expeditionary experience. Allowances may be made for seasonal variations, weather, tidal conditions, and any other event that may affect the operation of the vessel.

Day 1: Depart Wellington
After a pre-cruise SailSAFE check-in, board Coral Geographer in Wellington at 4:00pm. Depart at 5:00pm and cruise towards the Marlborough Sound while you settle into your stateroom and relax. Take the time to become acquainted with all the facilities onboard before meeting your fellow travellers, the Captain and crew for the Captain’s Welcome Drinks.

Marlborough Sounds
The ancient river valleys that form the Marlborough Sounds make up 20% of New Zealand’s coastline. The webs of sunken channels are surrounded by forest-cloaked peaks and vineyards, all of which present a breathtaking view from any perspective. This lush region produces much of New Zealand’s seafood, and 80% of its wine. The fertile soil in this region supported the country’s first known Polynesian settlement in the late 1200s AD at Wairau Bar.

Here, cruise the fiord-like Queen Charlotte Sound (Totaranui). Follow the path of Captain Cook’s exploratory voyages, including a stop at Cook’s favourite New Zealand base, Ship Cove, where he spent a total of 120 days. Discover dolphins and seals from the Xplorer and enjoy wonderful birdwatching on walks through Motuara Island birdlife sanctuary. Guided by our expedition team and lecturers, there will be options to hike a section of the spectacular Queen Charlotte Track, or shorter walks available. The history of the region is also brought to life with our visit to Ship Cove.

Kaikoura
Ringed by the breathtaking snow-dusted Seaward Kaikoura Ranges, the picturesque town of Kaikoura is renowned as possibly the best whale watching destination in the world. Kaikoura is one of the very few places it is possible to observe the Sperm Whale. Aboard a small, specialised vessel, we will explore the ocean in search of these amazing mammals, as well as fur seals, dusky and Hector’s dolphins and other migratory whales.

Kaikoura means ‘to eat crayfish’, and you may have the opportunity to taste the seafood available here. You will also have the opportunity walk through this small town to visit the museums, galleries, and cafes, before joining the expedition team on a guided walk over the peninsula to marvel at the spectacular scenery.

Akaroa
This morning, sail into the long harbour of Akaroa, formed by the breached volcanic crater that makes up the Banks Peninsula. The village of Akaroa has the unique identity of being the only French settlement in New Zealand, and its charming cottages and French street names still carry that identity today.

Ringed by the pastoral rolling hills of the Peninsula, the scenic village was once a bustling whaling outpost. Here enjoy a harbour cruise with a local operator to spot marine wildlife. Enjoy free time to explore the scenic village, and visit cafes inspired by French cuisine. A variety of short walks are available into the surrounding nature reserves, guided by our expedition team.

Dunedin
Dunedin, settled in and around an ancient volcanic crater, is known for its Scottish and Maori heritage. Named after the Scottish Gaelic name for Edinburgh, the city’s heritage buildings, cathedrals, and charming atmosphere share an old-world atmosphere. Dunedin City is regarded as New Zealand’s architectural heritage capital.

The Otago Peninsula is an area of exceptional diversity, and as we enter the long Otago Harbour, we will be welcomed with sights of the world’s only mainland breeding colony of northern royal albatross and a colony of yellow-eyed penguin – the world’s rarest penguin – as well as Hookers sea lions and various other unique species.

You will have time to explore the city at your own leisure: perhaps visit the famous Speight’s Brewery, art gallery, museum, and New Zealand’s oldest botanic gardens. There will also be a choice of included excursions with local operators – choose between a coach tour of the Otago Peninsula’s most scenic beaches and Dunedin’s highlights, or a railway journey through the rugged and spectacular Taieri River Gorge.

Stewart & Ulva Islands
Known in Maori mythology as Te Punga o Te Waka – The Anchor Stone of Maui’s Canoe’ – Stewart Island (Rakiura) is New Zealand’s little known ‘third island’. Apart from the communities on the island, many people never venture to remote Stewart Island. Nearby Ulva Island is also found within the Rakiura National Park, offering a predator-free environment for rare and endangered birds including South Island Saddleback, Stewart Island Weka, New Zealand Pigeon/Kereru, South Island Kaka, Yellow- and Red-crowned Parakeet (Kakariki), Morepork, Rifleman (New Zealand’s smallest bird), New Zealand Fantail, South Island Tomtit, Stewart Island Robin, Yellowhead (Mohoua), Brown Creeper, Grey Warbler, New Zealand Bellbird and Tui.

On Ulva Island, a guided walk will provide the opportunity to spot a vast array of birdlife and hopefully a few fur seals lazing on the shore during the tour. There will be free time to explore the village of Oban, and a guided Xplorer cruise to Prices Point Whaling Station will unveil the history of the region.

Firodland – Dusky, Doubtful & Thompson Sounds
Fiordland National Park, a World Heritage site once described as the Eighth Wonder of the World, is characterised by 14 fiords carving through just 215km of coastline. These fiords were carved by glaciers over thousands of years, and you will see waterfalls cascading down the sheer cliffs, rainforest cloaking the steep ridges, and granite peaks reflected in the deep shimmering waters.

These mostly inaccessible and awe-inspiring landscapes were the mysterious source of powerful pounamu (New Zealand jade), gathered by Maori from the riverbeds and boulders of the South Island – the only place it occurs.  While some European settlers took shelter here, the deep isolation and rugged terrain thwarted all except the toughest from staying. Many of the flora and fauna species have developed in relative isolation, so many of the diverse plants and animals are unique to the area.

Enter Fiordland National Park at dramatic Tamatea / Dusky Sound, and cruise among towering cliffs and sheer granite walls of Facile Harbour, cascading waterfalls, pass some of the 365 small islands and explore the depths of the inlets in the zodiacs.  Inaccessible by road, Tamatea / Dusky Sound is the largest and most complex of the Fiordland Sounds.  It is also a designated Important Bird Area for the Fiordland Penguins that breed here.

We will discover the fur seals of Luncheon Cove and cruise Astronomer’s Point – Captain Cook’s base when exploring Fiordland. We may have the opportunity to visit the site where the scientific team from HMB Endeavour set up their equipment.

In the afternoon, trace Acheron Passage to Breaksea Sound, surrounded by breathtaking landscapes on all sides as we retrace Cook’s journey. It is easy to imagine the small wooden Endeavour being dwarfed by the steep-sided fiords and encircled by the blanketing silence of the fog-cloaked peaks.

Doubtful Sound / Patea is the deepest and widest fiord, flanked by towering cliffs and adorned by cascading waterfalls.  The stillness and silence of this Fiord is compelling and unforgettable.  We will cruise into Doubtful Sound / Patea, and past the outer Seal Islands, Nee Islets and through ‘the Gut’, before cruising by Blanket Bay. You may spot fur seals lounging on the rocks, pods of dolphins, and the Fiordland penguin. Tonight, enjoy the Captain’s Farewell Drinks.

Solander Islands (Hautere)
The Solander Islands, with the Maori name Hautere translating to ‘flying wind’, are a trio of uninhabited volcanic islets that lie just beyond New Zealand’s South Island. Aboard the Endeavour, Captain James Cook spotted the islands in early 1770, and was named after a Swedish scientific crew member on board, Daniel Solander. The islands have only been known to be inhabited briefly due to marooning or shipwreck.

With one third of the wildlife on the islands being incredibly rare, the bulk of the species include ferns and orchids. Birds known to call the islands home include fernbirds, snipe and white-fronted terns with the islands being declared an Important Bird Area as it is a breeding site for common diving petrels and Buller’s albatrosses amassing some 5000 pairs. The area is well-known whale migration with sightings of extraordinarily large sperm whales.

Day 11: Bluff
This morning, we arrive at Bluff to disembark at 8:00am. Complimentary post-cruise transfers to Queenstown is available.


TSS Earnslaw and Walter Peak Farm Tour
Cruise around Lake Wakatipu on a vintage steamboat, the TSS Earnslaw, before disembarking for a taste of farm life at Walter Peak Farm. Combine these experiences to create an ideal experience in the New Zealand countryside. Cruise on the TSS Earnslaw, a vintage steamship built in 1912. Known as "the Lady of the Lake," she once provided an essential link between isolated farming communities along Lake Wakatipu. At 157 feet (48 m), she was once the biggest boat on the lake, carrying passengers, sheep, cattle, mail, and supplies. Walter Peak High Country is the perfect place to relax for a few hours, situated on Lake Wakatipu's southwestern shore. After arriving from the boat, take a walking tour of the farmyard, seeing the holding pens, where you can help feed the sheep and deer, and even get up close to Scottish Highland Cattle. Stroll through the lakeside gardens to the Colonel's Homestead for tea. Afterward, head to the shearing shed, where you watch farm dogs round up sheep from the hill paddocks, and then watch the farmer shear a sheep. At the end of your visit, board the TSS Earnslaw to cruise back to Queenstown.


Mt Cook Tour & Heli Hike Combo
This small group, fully-guided day trip combines all of the key highlights of Mt Cook with an incredible Heli Hike on Tasman Glacier including two scenic helicopter flights. Your tour starts in the stunning city of Queenstown. As we drive out of the city your guide will point out and guide you past some of the area’s top highlights. We then make our way through the Kawarau Gorge, passing stunning views, the Kawarau Suspension Bridge and the famous Roaring Meg Lookout. Time and light permitting we will stop for that first great shot of the tour. Exiting the Kawarau Gorge we enter the fruit and wine growing region of Cromwell. Passing huge fields of vines, we cross Lake Dunstan and follow this beautiful lake towards Lindis Pass. Climbing in altitude, Lindis Pass has amazing views down through the valleys. Being one of only three alpine roads through the otherwise impassable Southern Alps, we stop at the famous lookout at the top of the pass for an essential photo. While driving through the endless plains of the Mackenzie district we will spot several of the famous Merino breed of sheep before stopping at the quaint township of Omarama. While in Omarama we have time for a break or even to try the best creamy chicken pie in NZ (in our opinion)!

Turning west we begin to enter the Aoraki National Park and Lake Pukaki begins to emerge in front of us. Lake Pukaki is one of the bluest lakes you will ever see and is stunningly framed by the backdrop of Aoraki/Mt Cook and the Southern Alps. We stop for some amazing photos and to marvel at the sight that we are beholding. It’s not hard to see why many Lord of the Rings scenes were filmed nearby, which we will point out for you. Next get ready for an adventure of a lifetime with a Tasman Glacier Heli Hike. Combine the excitement of walking on New Zealand’s biggest glacier with the stunning scenic helicopter fly-bys of New Zealand’s largest mountain, Aoraki/Mt Cook. You will fly to your drop off point on a remote part of the glacier before beginning a guided exploration of the amazing ice formations. Follow your guide as they cut steps in the glacier, using skills handed down from NZ’s mountain pioneers. Your trip finishes with another spectacular scenic flight back to our Aoraki/Mt. Cook base. After your flight we arrive at the Mt Cook Village, weather depending, we should get some amazing shots of the mountain from the ground. At 3724m, Aoraki/Mt Cook is New Zealand’s highest peak, however the mountain can be viewed without any acclimatisation whatsoever from the village which is just 750m above sea level. Farewelling Aoraki/Mt Cook Village and making our way back to Queenstown we stop in at High Country Salmon, a local salmon farm, where you can feed the fish and taste some of the freshest salmon in New Zealand. We will also stop at Mrs Jones Suncrest Orchard to try or buy her delicious local fruit or real fruit ice cream. Sadly the tour must come to an end as we re-enter Queenstown and say our goodbyes.



* Conditions apply. Offer is limited, subject to availability and change without notice. Promotion is correct and valid at the time of publication. Booking and full supplier terms and conditions apply. Valid for new bookings only and not combinable with any other offer (unless stated).

Prices listed are per person in Australian/New Zealand Dollars, based on twin occupancy, including all discounts unless otherwise stated. The offer is subject to availability at time of booking and shown on the lowest inside category available at the time.  Fares are capacity controlled and are subject to change at any time without notice. Prices/Offers are correct as at 24 March 2022 and can be withdrawn without notice. Cabin categories include prepaid government fees and port taxes unless otherwise stated.  Hotels may charge resort fees not included in this package, payable direct upon check in. Visas are not included.  Air credit is applicable on airline of choice, subject to availability and subject to the carriers’ flight schedules and conditions. Payments made by credit card will incur a surcharge.