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New Zealand Sounds and Stewart Island

Bluff to Bluff8 nightsAll InclusiveFrom $7,650.00* PP

Set sail aboard Coral Adventurer to discover the breathtaking natural wonders of New Zealand’s South Island Sounds and Fiords, departing from Bluff. On this 8-night expedition through the World Heritage expanse of Fiordland National Park, explore the majestic Dusky and Doubtful Sounds, home to striking landscapes, rare endemic fauna and numerous seal colonies along New Zealand’s secluded western coast. Experience Stirling Falls at Milford Sound, where towering cliffs plunge into glacial waters, creating one of the planet’s most remarkable natural landscapes. Wander through the forests of Ulva Island Bird Sanctuary and catch sight of some of the nation’s most iconic bird species. Discover the allure of Solander Island, known for its uninhabited volcanic islets and abundant birdlife. At days end, return to the Coral Adventurer and indulge in the delights of New Zealand’s celebrated cuisine and wine along with the convivial company of fellow passengers.

  • Stroll through the quiet forests of Ulva Bird Sanctuary on Stewart Island to spot New Zealand’s iconic birds, including the Stewart Island weka, South Island saddleback, yellow-and red-crowned parakeet (kakariki) and rifleman (New Zealand’s smallest bird).
  • Explore Fiordland National Park, a World Heritage site with 14 fiords carved by glaciers over thousands of years. Our voyage visits the iconic Milford, Dusky and Doubtful Sounds where you can witness the iconic seal colonies.
  •  Visit the historic Astronomers Point boardwalk where James Cook set up a temporary observatory in 1773 and encounter the fur seals of Luncheon Cove.
  • Cruise into Doubtful Sound, past the Nee Islets and through ‘the Gut’ and outer seal colonies where you may spot fur seals lounging on the rocks and pods of dolphins.
  • Set sail to Solander Island, a trio of uninhabited volcanic islets with rare wildlife, ferns, orchids, and birds such as fernbirds, snipe, and white-fronted terns.


Coral-Adventurer at sea

Guests arriving early can check in with our team and head to the Rydge’s Lakeland around 10:30am to relax and enjoy light refreshments. A 3-hour complimentary transfer by coach will take you from the hotel to board the Coral Adventurer, docked at Bluff Harbour.  After boarding at 4:00pm, there is time to settle into your stateroom before our 5:00 pm departure towards Stewart Island for overnight anchorage. Take in the sights while enjoying Captain’s welcome drinks and meet your crew and fellow passengers.

Meeting point for Guests

Rydges Lakeland Resort Queenstown, 38 -54 Lake Esplanade, Queenstown

Open from 10:30am guests can check in with one of our team then head to the Reds Bar to relax and enjoy light food offering and tea / coffee / fruit Juice.

Stewart Island, new Zealand

Known in Māori 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. Enjoy a guided walk by the expedition team at the Ulva Bird Sanctuary offering a predator-free environment for rare and endangered birds and visit the remains of the Norwegian Whaling base. Spend the rest of your day embarking on a nature cruise and later visit the Oban Township.

Seal colonies at dusky sound

Fiordland National Park, a World Heritage site once described as the Eighth Wonder of the World by author Rudyard Kipling, 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 Māori 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.

Today, we sail into Dusky Sound which is a remote destination inaccessible by road. Dusky sound is the largest and most complex of the Fiordland Sounds. It is also a designated Bird Area for the Fiordland penguins that breed here. Visit the historic Astronomers Point boardwalk where James Cook set up a temporary observatory in 1773 and encounter the fur seals of Luncheon Cove. Guests will have a chance to explore the Cascade Cove followed by some water activities such as using the ships kayaks for a fun paddle or taking a polar dip in the crystal-clear waters. Depart Dusky Sound cruising through the Acheron and Cook’s passages.

people walking at Fiordland: Doubtful/Thompson Sound, New Zealand

Doubtful Sound 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 and past the Nee Islets and through ‘the Gut’ and outer Seal colonies where you may spot fur seals lounging on the rocks, and pods of dolphins. If the weather permits, head to nearby Thompson Island and enjoy a walk at Deas Cove.

people on deck at milford-sound-island

Encounter breathtaking views as Coral Adventurer enters the Milford Sound, heading towards the famous Stirling Falls. You will have a chance to feel the spray from Stirling Falls  and get a close-up view in your designated Zodiacs/Xplorers. Witness the world-famous view of Mitre Peak, rising some 1,682 meters. Its triangular silhouette rises opposite beautiful Stirling Falls, falling from the top of a 162m high cliff between two towering ridges into the water’s deep shades of turquoise and emerald.

people taking a photo at solander island, new zealand

Spend the day transiting through the Solander Islands, with the Māori 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, it is likely that you will spot fernbirds, snipe and white-fronted terns. The island has been declared an Important Bird Area as it is a breeding site for common diving petrels and Buller’s albatrosses amassing some 5000 pairs.

Coral Adventurer At Sea

Prepare for disembarkation as the ship arrives into Bluff Port at 7:00am followed by farewell to the crew and new-found friends at 8:00am. Enjoy a complimentary transfer by coach to Queenstown hotels or airport after disembarkation.

This itinerary is an indication of the destinations we visit and activities on offer. Throughout 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. Coral Expeditions suggests that you do not arrive on the day of embarkation or depart on the day of disembarkation due to any changes that may occur in scheduling.

Fares & Availability


Bridge Deck Balcony Suite

Private Balcony - 55.8m2


Bridge Deck Balcony Stateroom

Private Balcony - 21.4m2


Explorer Deck Balcony Stateroom

Private Balcony - 21.4m2


Promenade Deck Stateroom

Picture Window - 17m2


Coral Deck Stateroom

Porthole Window - 17m2

Book this Departure

Prices are per person twin share, listed in Australian Dollars (AUD).  Booking Terms & Conditions >
For solo traveller rates see our Solo Traveller Program.

Additional Information


  • All excursions with our Expedition Team
  • Use of Xplorer, Zodiacs and Kayaks
  • Daily lectures and briefings with Guest Lecturers
  • All meals, chef-prepared on board
  • Captain’s welcome and farewell events, and open bridge access
  • Selected wines, selected beers and house spirits, juices, and soft drinks served with lunch and dinner
  • 24-hour barista-style coffee and tea station
  • All entrance fees to National Parks, ports, traditional owner fees and charges imposed by governing authorities
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Use of all onboard facilities, incl. a reference library
  • Expedition diary, along with a photo and video gallery documenting the highlights of your voyage
  • Post-cruise transfers (in most destinations)

Not Included:

  • Pre-cruise transfers
  • Pre and post cruise flights/charter flights
  • Pre and post cruise accommodation
  • Travel Insurance
  • Entry visas & travel permits for the country you are travelling to/from
  • Alcoholic drinks (including beer and wine) outside of lunch and dinner service
  • Internet services (available at a cost)
  • Laundry service (available at a cost)
  • Items of a personal nature such souvenir purchases
  • Optional Extras (in some destinations)


Coral Adventurer carries a maximum of 120 guests, delivering Coral Expeditions’ renowned warm Australian hospitality, intimate onboard atmosphere, and world-class expedition experience.  More About Coral Adventurer >

Travel Insurance is not included in your cruise fare. We highly recommend all guests to obtain comprehensive travel insurance with remote area evacuation coverage. Please refer to our Pre-Cruise Checklist page for facts that should be considered and shared when speaking with Travel Insurance suppliers regarding travel insurance.

At Coral Expeditions dining is a celebration of great food and good company enjoyed in extraordinary destinations. People and place are key to enjoyable dining experiences, where food becomes the vehicle for conversation and creating memorable occasions.

We now offer two wine selections that guests may purchase in addition to our new house selection of wines. These packages showcase contemporary choices of Australian wines and French Champagne. More About Cuisine & Wine >

  • A Taste of Australia Selection | 6 Bottles | $280.00
  • Connoisseur Selection | 6 Bottles | $400.00

Our Cruise Collection Merchandise including expedition gear is also available for purchase in our onboard gift shop. View our Cruise Collection here >

When it comes time for the exciting time of packing for your cruise, our packing lists are available to assist you. More specific information regarding weather conditions in your destination will be included in your Cruise Documentation which you will receive prior to your cruise.

Find your New Zealand packing list here.

Walks are mid-range 2-4 km being the longest - some are more challenging such as The Kaikoura Peninsula walk or Hikes in Stewart Island.

  • Marlborough Sound:
    Motuara Island Lookout – 1 hour return. A gradual uphill well-graded track with a couple of steeper sections.
    Queen Charlotte track – 2.5 hour return. Hike a section of this steep track with many ups and downs, and we will only do 60 minutes one way from the start point at Ship Cove. Walkers are required to be physically fit and have good balance.
  • Waterfall walk from Ship Cove: 40 minutes return, track is mainly flat but slippery.
  • Kaikoura (Optional): 2.5 hour return, approx. 4.4km. Walk over the Kaikoura Peninsula with the expedition team.
  • Akaroa: Several easy walk options available from town – varying in length/difficulty. Newtons Waterfall walk - 4.3 km, easy mostly on gravel road.
  • Stewart Island: Ulva Island birdwatching walk – easy and leisurely at a slow pace or longer walks available depending on weather conditions (options for Braggs Bay to Horseshoe Bay or Horseshoe Bay to Lee Bay – part of Rakiura Track. Shorter walks closer to Oban – Golden Bay to Oban.
  • Astronomers Point (Fiordland): Very short easy walk but can be slippery.

Please ensure your passport has at least 6 months validity from the time the expedition commences, and two blank pages. Please email a scanned colour copy of your passport identification page to our team at [email protected] no later than 45 days prior to your departure.

Important: Please bring your physical passport with you on all international departures.

The travel advice information below is for Australian guests only. If you are an non-Australian passport holder travelling on these departures, please contact your relevant government department, embassy or your travel agent for applicable information.
Travelling guests are fully responsible for arranging their own health and visa requirements to travel abroad. Further information will be provided closer to departure.

Complimentary bus transfers to/from Queenstown to Bluff will be provided.

There is a likelihood of experiencing four seasons in one day.

Average daytime temperatures during this cruise range between 16 and 22, however the wind chill factor will reduce these temperatures, particularly in exposed areas or at sea. Weather conditions can change throughout the day, with temperatures affected by the southerly winds. On the evening’s temperatures can drop into the single digits. Guests should be prepared for cold/windy/wet conditions at any time during the cruise, particularly in the southern locations of Stewart Island and Fiordland.

  • Australian citizens are exempt for the ETA and IVL – they will not have to pay/organise it prior to flying into NZ.
  • Any non-Australian/NZ citizens on our cruise WILL have to organise the ETA/IVL prior to flying into NZ.
  • The system to apply for the ETA will be in place as of this July – NZ immigration has suggested we hold off on telling our guests about this until then.
  • The new International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy (IVL) will cost NZD $35 per person and will be collected alongside the ETA fee (duration 2 years).

We do not have currency exchange onboard. Guests are advised to exchange money into local currency prior to departure from their home port. Currency exchange and eftpos style point of sale is increasingly available in the regions we visit. We recommend carrying small denominations.

New Zealand: New Zealand Dollars (NZD)

  • The Penguin History of New Zealand – Michael King,
  • The Bone People – Keri Hulme
  • Stewart Island: A Rakiura Ramble – Neville Peat,
  • The Quest for Origins – K.R. Howe
  • Vaka Moana – Voyages of the Ancestors: The Discovery and Settlement of the Pacific – K.R. Howe,
  • To the Is-land – Janet Frame
  • Journals of James Cook – Penguin paperback edition.

We want to ensure that your journey with us is smooth and hassle-free. To help you prepare for your cruise, refer to our Pre-Cruise Checklist for more detailed information on the milestones leading up to your voyage.

Accommodation Nearby


DoubleTree By Hilton, Queenstown


Novotel Queenstown Lakeside


Novotel Wellington

Rydges Wellington

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