DAY 1: Queenstown - Mildford Sound Luxurious 5-star Overnight Cruise
9:30am Pick up from your Queenstown accommodation and transfer to Milford Sound in a luxury van. Winter pickup time is 8:30am. Travel along the shores of Lake Wakatipu and through the rolling countryside to Te Anau. After a short break, the coach continues along the spectacular alpine route of the Milford Road through impressive, awe-inspiring scenery. You’ll stop in the Eglington Valley and at the mouth of the Homer Tunnel for some photos.
* You can choose to upgrade to "Heli Fly In" at an additional cost. Descend through carved glacial valleys to Milford to land aboard the boat.
Upon arrival at Milford Sound, you have some free time. You could have your lunch at the local cafe (at your own expense).
3:45pm: Meet the crew for boarding at 4:00pm. Cruise departure is by 4:30pm.
4:30pm Board the Milford Mariner for the overnight cruise. Then cruise the full length of Milford Sound. Your onboard nature guide will explain the history and geology of Milford Sound.
If weather permits, cruise into the mouth of the fiord past Anita Bay, and head into the Tasman Sea for a glimpse of the West Coast, before returning into the sound. Venture up the north side of the fiord past Dale Point, the Piopiotahi Marine Reserve, Seal Rock, Stirling Falls, The Lion and the Cascade Range.
The cruise style is relaxed, and you'll have plenty of time to view the fiord's spectacular waterfalls, rainforest, mountains and wildlife such as seals, dolphin and penguins. Other things you can do while on board:
As well as observing wildlife above the water, the luxury cruise shows you the fascinating world beneath the waves by using an underwater ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle), with its high definition camera, the state-of-the-art equipment allows you to view the enchanting sea life in real time from the comfort of the boat lounge.
Everything from beautiful black coral to lobsters peering out from underwater caves, as well as a myriad of fish species. If you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of dolphins as they glide under the boat or perhaps something never seen before.
Viewing Black Coral
Fiordland is also unique in that species usually living at great depths are visible due to a light-absorbing fresh water layer, which allows them to become established at much shallower depths. An annual rainfall of 6500mm combined with the run-off from surrounding mountains provides a tannin-like colour to the water, creating a light barrier which encourages these plants and animals to thrive. The water is relatively warm and remarkably clear, giving you the chance to see flora and fauna usually out of reach. For example, black coral, saucer sponge, large tube anemone, spiny sea dragons and other species usually confined to far greater depths. The most prized of these, and normally only discovered in deep oceans, is black coral which can be viewed at shallow depths of 15-50 metres in Milford Sound because of this unique layer. The tree-like coral is said to be worth more than diamonds on a weight-for-weight basis - undoubtedly a reason why it is listed as endangered in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species and protected by law in New Zealand.
Once we’ve anchored for the night, feel free to use the kayaks to explore the nearby coastline - a fantastic way to end the day!
The small boat at the back of the vessel, called a tender, may take you closer to the shore to see wildlife, waterfalls and other interesting landscape features.
Milford Sound itself is a marine reserve so we are unable to fish there, but the mouth of the fiord and the Tasman Sea are renowned fishing spots. Here we’ll hook you up with a fishing rod – blue cod is the fish of choice in Fiordland. We may also have the opportunity to lift cray pots (lobster traps) if conditions allow.
After cruising, anchor at Harrison’s Cove or Deepwater Cove for the night. There is then the opportunity to explore nearby in the on-board sea kayaks, before returning to the boat for drinks and dinner.
As evening falls, enjoy a three-course dinner prepared freshly by the onboard chef. Then relax in the company of fellow travellers, indulge in some star-gazing or outdoor hot-tub before retiring to your private cabin.
Mildford Sound Luxurious 5-star Overnight Cruise, twin/double private cabins with ensuites