Northern Fiords Explorer: Expedition Cruising Fiordland’s Northern Fiords

Northern Fiords Explorer: Expedition Cruising Fiordland’s Northern Fiords

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Experience the primordial majesty of Fiordland’s Northern Fiords where clouds scud the ragged peaks of glacier-cleaved mountains streaked with waterfalls as we explore Milford Sound and the more remote Bligh, George, Caswell, Nancy, George, Breaksea and Doubtful Sounds, accessible only by expedition ship, on this 7-day authentic expedition cruise.

Established in 1952, Fiordland National Park is now over 1.2 million hectares in size and rightly famous for its epic, grand scale scenery, untamed wilderness and unique wildlife including Bottlenose Dolphins, Fiordland Crested Penguins and New Zealand Fur Seals. However, Fiordland is also rich in natural history, geology and the location of some historical firsts and important restoration and conservation projects.

As we explore these remote icecarved mountains, verdant rainforests and winding fiords it is easy to see how this incredible region inspired our dream for responsible travel. Captain Cook and his crew were the first Europeans to visit landing here aboard HMS Resolution in 1773 and subsequently spending five weeks in Dusky Sound. Cook’s records of his discovery and maps would attract sealers and whalers not long after, who would go on to form the first European settlements of New Zealand and from the middle of the 19th Century this Fiordland’s interior coastline would attract the attention of those in search of hidden greenstone or New Zealand jade. Historically this region is very important in New Zealand history as it shaped the future of the country.

The isolation of the Northern Fiords has been beneficial in ensuring their epic beauty remains unspoiled and historic sites undisturbed. Join us as we sail the calm waters of Fiordland in solitude exploring some of the most unique and wild parts of Fiordland on this unforgettable adventure.

Trip Name
Northern Fiords Explorer: Expedition Cruising Fiordland's Northern Fiords
Vessel Type: Expedition Yacht Length: 30 metres Passenger Capacity: 18 Built: 2004 New Zealand-built expedition yacht Heritage Explorer joins Heritage Expedition's small ship fleet creating new opportunities of discovery around the shores of New Zealand. Setting a new standard for discovery travel in New Zealand, Heritage Explorer combines the ultimate in comfort with unique itineraries and a personalised experience with a maximum of just 18 guests on board.Heritage Explorer is a 30-metre, 4-deck New Zealand flagged vessel built in 2004 by the renowned wooden boat building family Carey's Boatyard in Picton. It features a contemporary wood-finished interior, 10 well-appointed cabins across three decks, dining room boasting spectacular 180-degree panoramas and theatre capabilities; lounge and bar featuring a flight of inclusive regional New Zealand wines, beers and spirits; and a well-stocked local library. Outside, guests can enjoy plenty of covered space on the Bridge Deck, or ajourn to the Sun Deck perfect for wildlife spotting, sunrises and sunsets, or simply enjoying watch your voyage unfold. Kayaks and fishing equipment are available for use during the voyage, while two tenders allow for deeper exploration and the unforgettable wildlife encounters synonymous with all Heritage Expeditions adventures. As with as with our other vessels, Heritage Explorer will have an open bridge policy and a full commercial kitchen helmed by a talented chef focused on highlighting local produce and any guest catches of the day, as well as an enthusiastic and passionate expedition team, and will be shipped by a New Zealand captain and crew. The expedition yacht features state-of-the-art technology to provide a comfortable expedition with high performance dual Scania 653 horsepower engines, bow thrusters, fin stabilisers, full air-conditioning, sound attenuated twin generators and a hydraulic aft ramp, while a comprehensive navigation package ensures the ultimate Kiwi adventure awaits all guests. Accommodation Details Royal: Located on the Bridge Deck, our Master Suite features a spacious bedroom with a queen-sized bed, ample storage with wardrobe and drawers, mirror and washbasin, private en suite, personal climate control, TV, PABX satellite telephone, window and French doors opening out on to the covered Bridge Deck.Salvin's: Located on the Lower Deck, Salvin's cabins have the option of either a double bed or two lower berths. Both feature ample storage with wardrobe and drawers, TV, PABX satellite telephone, private en suite and a picture porthole. Wandering: Located on the Lower Deck, Wandering cabins feature one lower single berth, ample storage with wardrobe and drawers, TV, PABX satellite telephone, private en suite and a porthole. Buller's: Located on the Lower Deck, the Buller's cabin features one bunk (one upper and one lower berth), ample storage with wardrobe and drawers, TV, PABX satellite telephone, private en suite and a porthole.


Day 1 - Day 1: Te Anau/Milford Sound
Make your way to the designated meeting point in TeAnau then enjoy the scenic drive through the EglingtonValley to Milford Sound and join Heritage Explorer (timesand meeting point will be confirmed with your voyagedocuments). The captain and expedition leader will bewaiting to welcome you aboard Heritage Explorer andshow you to your cabin. Settle into life aboard beforeand prepare for the adventure ahead while revelling inthe spellbinding scenery of Milford Sound.
Day 2 - Day 2: Bligh Sound
Join your onboard expedition naturalists to spotalbatross and seabirds as we sail the rich waters of theFiordland Coast before arriving in the seldom visited yetspectacular waters of Bligh Sound. With its crooked ‘Z’shape you feel at the heart of the Fiordland wildernesswhen venturing to the head of the fiord at Bounty Havenwhere the Wild Natives River flows from the mountainsabove. Of particular interest here is one of Fiordland’sseveral ‘China Shops’, special zones containing a fragileenvironment where deep sea life can be viewed closerto the surface than normal due to the darkness createdby the brackish water.
Day 3 - Day 3: George Sound
After a night enjoying the tranquility of Bligh Soundwe navigate to the largest of the Northern Fiords, George Sound. Stretching 26-scenic-kilometres,George Sound is the longest of the Northern Fiordsand with several arms branching from the fiord wehave multiple options but the spectacular sight ofAlice Falls flanked by dense forest and tumbling overboulders as it thunders out of Lake Alice at the headof fiord is always a strong draw. It was at the headof George Sound that Wapiti/elk were introduced toNew Zealand in 1905, part of the herd being giftedby American president Theodore Roosevelt.
Day 4 - Day 4: Caswell Sound
Another rarely explored fiord, Caswell Sound ishome to the last physical remains of the 1949 NewZealand–American Fiordland scientific expedition, aprimitive hut standing on the banks of the StillwaterRiver used while studying the Wapiti/elk herdintroduced earlier in the century. Tiny Styles Islandguards the fiord’s entrance to the Tasman Sea whilewalks include a nature-filled stroll along StillwaterRiver towards Lake Marchant. Fishing here is goodfor those interested in joining the chefs in securingtonight’s dinner.
Day 5 - Day 5: Charles & Nancy Sounds
Today we have the exploration of the southernmost of the northern fiords on our agenda. Flankedby steep mountains including Mount Napier andCommand Peak, Nancy Sound was likely namedafter the vessel Nancy by Captain John Grono oneof the early sealing captains to explore Fiordland.Nancy Sound’s unusual leg shape was not lost onthose who named it bestowing the section it turnsat right angles to the north Foot Arm, which dutifullymoves into Heel Cove and Toe Cove. Leg Head andBend Point were similarly literally named. At nearbyCharles Sound, the fiord branches into Emelius andGold Arms at its head with Gold Arm being hometo one of the most extensive marine reserves in theinner fiords (Kahukura Marine Reserve) while othersections are included in the Taumoana MarineReserve. Your captain and expedition leader will find a suitably sheltered anchorage for Heritage Explorerwhere activities could include kayaking or joining yourexpedition guides in a coastal exploration by Zodiac.
Day 6 - Day 6: Breaksea & Doubtful Sounds
A short sail southwards brings us to the extensivesheltered waters of Breaksea Sound, initially scoutedfor sheep farming suitability by early setters in the1850s and location Breaksea Island, an iconic sitein New Zealand conservation history as one of thefirst large islands declared rat free in 1988. We thenexplore some of the most spectacular scenery inall of Fiordland – Doubtful Sound, or the sound ofsilence as it’s also known. Spanning some staggering40-kilometres and holding the title as New Zealand’sdeepest fiord, Doubtful Sound with its cloud-scrapingwilderness cloaked mountains, sheer stone cliffs,waterfalls, inlets, quiet coves and wildlife presentsnature on a scale so grand it’s off the chart.Photographic opportunities abound and our timespent here could include ship cruising Blanket Bay, theShelter Islands, Pandora River, Deas Cove and OpenBay. Enjoy a farewell dinner with the team aboardHeritage Explorer tonight.
Day 7 - Day 7: Doubtful Sound/Te Anau
This morning we navigate to the very head ofDoubtful Sound in Deep Cove home to severalwaterfalls including Helena and Lady Alice Falls. Aftera final breakfast and farewells, head ashore where atransfer to Te Anau, via the picturesque Wilmot Pass,the road constructed as part of the Manapouri hydroscheme, awaits. In case of unexpected delays, weask you not to book any onward travel from Te Anauuntil after 3pm this afternoon.
Day 8 - Please Note:
During our voyage, circumstances may make itnecessary or desirable to deviate from the proposeditinerary. This can include weather and opportunities formaking unplanned excursions. Your Expedition Leaderwill keep you fully informed. Voyages are planned andscheduled pending final regulatory approval.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type


    • Bligh Sound
    • George Sound
    • Caswell Sound
    • Charles & Nancy Sounds
    • Breaksea & Doubtful Sounds