Unique sunrise view in the mountains of Fiordland, New Zealand.
The pure water of Lake Harris just by the Routeburn Track in the border of Mount Aspiring and Fiordland National parks, New Zealand
New Zealand's Mitre Peak sits in the distance at dusk with fiordland, grasses, stones & a tree trunk in the foreground.
Cloudy. overcast day on the Ultimate Fiordland Cruise with calm water being fed by tall waterfalls cascading down silver rock.
Long exposure of a waterfall flowing beside lush forest after heavy rain in New Zealand's Fiordland National Park.
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Asia / Pacific New Zealand Cruise

Ultimate Fiordland Cruise

New Zealand offers ocean-scented scenery spread over 9,000 miles of fabulous coastline and more than 25 marine reserves. The 11-day Ultimate Fiordland Cruise aboard 32-guest Island Escape features the very best cruising region of the South Island. Discover one of New Zealand’s treasured national icons, Fiordland National Park. Cruise Fiordland New Zealand for its steep alpine ranges, dense forest and local wildlife; and be prepared to fall in love with this amazingly beautiful country.

Start in Queenstown, travel by private coach to Te Anau and board a helicopter for the spectacular flight to meet the ship in Doubtful Sound. Explore Pickersgill Harbor, Dusky and Breaksea Sound, Wet Jacket and Vancouver Arm before sailing north to enter Nancy, Charles, Caswell, George and Bligh before the mighty Milford Sound. On the final day, depart the ship by helicopter for a once-in-a-lifetime flight out of Milford Sound to Queenstown. Select departures move in reverse, cruising southbound.

Passage is aboard the 32-guest Island Escape super yacht, an all-suite ship featuring luxury amenities, exceptional food and an onboard wine cellar with curated selections. Her detail-oriented and attentive crew and intimate spaces combine to provide the feel of a private yacht.

Read on for details about this trip, or learn more about AdventureSmith’s New Zealand small ship cruises and New Zealand travel.



Itinerary

Ultimate Fiordland Itinerary

The Ultimate Fiordland Cruise operates round-trip from Queenstown, New Zealand, via private coach bus and helicopter. Explore Doubtful Sound; Pickersgill Harbor; Dusky and Breaksea Sound; Wet Jacket and Vancouver Arm; Nancy, Charles, Caswell, George and Bligh Sound; and Milford Sound.

Route map of Ultimate Fiordland Cruise, operating round-trip from Queenstown, NZ, with 2 helicopter rides to link the ship.
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Day 1
Arrive Queenstown, New Zealand

An arrival in Queenstown is always spectacular, especially by air. Find your way to your comfortable room and a warm welcome at the Heritage Hotel. Tonight you are free to explore this alpine village at your leisure. Be that dinner in the hotel, or one of the many a lakeside restaurants. Queenstown is a world-famous beautiful location with numerous tempting dining options.

Accommodations

Heritage Hotel

Meals

n/a

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Day 2
Te Anau to Embark Doubtful Sound

Enjoy time for a relaxed breakfast and be ready in the lobby at 9:45am for the private coach departure at 10:00am to Lake Te Anau. Take time to explore Te Anau township and have lunch at one of the many cafes before boarding the helicopters for a 20-minute scenic flight to the ship. The helicopter flight is an experience of a lifetime, a chance to take in the panoramic grandeur of Fiordland, before descending into the wild solitude of Doubtful Soundand the helipad on Island Escape. Remember to have the camera ready. Be introduced to your suite before the ship layout, safety briefing and start of the cruise. The ship makes her way along Doubtful Sound then down the coast to anchor for the evening in the sheltered and beautiful Dusky Sound. The chef has prepared a welcome dinner.

Accommodations

Island Escape

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 3
Dusky Sound & Pickersgill Harbor

The journey starts to delve into the early history and exploration of Fiordland. Whales frequent the waters near the fiord entrance and a great place to spot them is from the bridge observation foredeck. As everyone enjoys lunch in Dusky Sound, the captain will give an orientation of the history of the area and on the life of Captain James Cook and his visits to this part of New Zealand. After lunch, head ashore in Pickersgill to explore the area Captain Cook beached his ship Resolution in 1773 to repair her hull. Nearby is the famous Astronomers Point, the site of a temporary observatory set up during Cook’s six-week stay here in Fiordland.

Accommodations

Island Escape

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 4
Dusky Sound

Wake to the smells of a hearty breakfast, following which the ship tracks inland to the head of Dusky Sound and Supper Cove. This cove is the western trailhead for one of New Zealand’s greatest wilderness hikesthe Dusky Track. Further along, visit Cascade Cove, Cook Channel, Fanny Bay and Nine Fathom Passage. The captain continues his talk over lunch where you will be acquainted with the long-running moose story. In the afternoon, take the Zodiacs ashore to visit the Seaforth Hut and perhaps explore the Seaforth River by Zodiac or on foot.

Accommodations

Island Escape

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 5
Wet Jacket Arm

After breakfast the ship proceeds to peaceful Sportsman’s Cove for morning tea and more history from the captain. The focus remains on Cook and his journeys of exploration and the ongoing Fiordland moose story. Lunch served underway, and with a renewed taste for adventure, take the Acheron Passage north and head up Wet Jacket Arm to Herrick Creek. There have been moose sightings reported in this area so have the camera ready. Anchor off Oke Island for the night.

Accommodations

Island Escape

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 6
Breaksea Sound

Today, follow the inland Acheron Passage, heading for Disappointment Cove at the mouth of Breaksea Sound. Look out for seals close to shore and dolphins approaching the ship. Today’s lunchtime talk focuses on conservation and the history and efforts to mitigate the impact of introduced fauna to Fiordland. Stop at Sunday Cove for afternoon tea and an introduction to the local venison industry. Stay overnight farther up Breaksea Sound in Third Cove, below Mount Kellard at the mouth of Vancouver Arm.

Accommodations

Island Escape

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 7
Vancouver & Broughton Arms

Explore Vancouver and Broughton Arms today. For those who like to fish, one of the Officers is available for fishing trips throughout the day. Fresh fish for dinner is virtually guaranteed. Non-fishers can go ashore to explore the intertidal shoreline and bush at a SW corner of Broughton Arm. Feel free to relax and take in the view from the jacuzzi on Island Escape’s top deck. On clear evenings this is the perfect place for some stargazing into a pure Fiordland dark sky.

Accommodations

Island Escape

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 8
Nancy & Charles Sounds

The lush vertiginous beauty of Nancy Sound greets all today. From the ship’s anchorage, relax and enjoy the views from the yacht or join trips to explore the pristine shoreline of the fjord. With luck, gather a crayfish with the help of the one of the crew or catch a fish at the head of the sound. After lunch, set off north to explore the two arms of Charles Sound. It’s a favorite spot where the untouched natural beauty is awe-inspiring. Consider joining the crew in one of the Zodiacs for a trip up the Irene River that flows into the Emelius Arm of the sound. Spend the evening at the head of Charles Sound. Enjoy dinner, spectacular views and sharing some fascinating local history.

Accommodations

Island Escape

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 9
Caswell & George Sounds

At Caswell Sound, venture ashore to explore the foreshore and the Stillwater River. Shirley falls provides a beautiful backdrop for those who prefer to stay on board, read a book, soak in the jacuzzi or enjoy a chat with fellow passengers. After lunch, head on to George Sound, the longest fiord in northern Fiordland, to see the beautiful Alice Waterfalls. For those up for a good walk and breath-taking views, go ashore and take the track up above the falls to Alice Lake. Halfway along the fiord, arrive at Anchorage Cove at the mouth of the George River, a great spot to relax and enjoy a stroll along the deserted foreshore. Lay at anchor here overnight, and have dinner with views of the beautiful Alice Falls and the majestic peaks that flank the sound.

Accommodations

Island Escape

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 10
Bligh & Milford Sounds

Bligh fiord is an interesting Z-shape, named after William Bligh, of Mutiny on the Bounty fame, and then Governor of New South Wales. Anchor at beautiful Amazon Cove, then head ashore to explore and hear fascinating histories of lost tribes and the Wild Natives River. Then in the afternoon head for the world-famous Milford Sound, making stops to take in the splendor at some of the sound’s many cascading waterfalls along the way. Circling through Harrison Cove, reach perhaps the visual climax of the cruise, an iconic New Zealand vista, Mitre Peak. Anchor here for the final evening on board for the fabulous farewell dinner hosted by the captain and the crew in the heart of Fiordland.

Accommodations

Island Escape

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 11
Disembark Milford Sound to Queenstown & Depart

The helicopters arrive after breakfast. Fly through some of the most stunning scenery on earth to reach Queenstown airport. Take home memories of adventure, great food, good company and vast unspoiled New Zealand.

Accommodations

n/a

Meals

breakfast

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Details
Inclusions, Terms & Notes

Included

All meals including breakfast, lunch, dinner, morning and afternoon tea; all beverages including selected wines, spirits and beer, juice and soft drinks, water, tea and espresso coffee; tours where mentioned in the itinerary; helicopter flights where mentioned in the itinerary; unlimited WiFi; all taxes and port charges.

Exclusions

Immigration fees; air transportation; extensions; personal items such as emails, laundry, etc.; gratuities; and insurance of any kind.

Payment & Cancellation

In order to confirm this trip, a deposit of 25% of the total trip cost is required per person at time of booking. The balance of the trip price is due 90 days before the departure date.  Special holiday payment and cancellation terms may apply. Guests who must cancel their trip for any reason must do so in writing. Standard cancellations are subject to the following per-person penalties, based on number of days prior to departure:
91 or more days – 100% of deposit
90 to 0 days – 100% of total trip cost

Terms & Conditions

This trip is subject to AdventureSmith Explorations Terms and Conditions. Please read this information carefully and call us if you have any questions. A Traveler Information Form, which includes a release of liability, must be completed and signed by all travelers. Your Adventure Specialist will send you a unique link to complete this form along with a packing list and extensive pre-departure and travel insurance information upon booking confirmation.

Vaccination Requirement
To join this trip, all eligible guests must provide proof of being fully vaccinated (at least 14 days after your final COVID-19 vaccine shot), including a booster shot for those eligible. There may also be COVID-19 testing or other requirements to participate; your Adventure Specialist will provide details of current policies upon booking.

Arrival & Departure

The Ultimate Fiordland cruise begins and ends in Queenstown, New Zealand (ZQN). We highly recommend arriving one day prior to your trip start date in case of any flight delay, cancellation or lost luggage issues. Plan flights to arrive to Queenstown at any time on Day 1. Contact your Adventure Specialist for planning flights to depart Queenstown on disembarkation day. If you would like assistance with international flights, please visit our Booking Flights resource page.

Activities

Whether you are looking for light activity options or more challenging outdoor pursuits, the ship’s crew can tailor most any expedition to suit your skill level. Adventure activities may include whale watching, snorkeling, fishing, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding, inflatable boat/skiff excursions, land treks, wildlife observation and practicing photography.

Families & Children

For individual bookings, children must be at least 13 years old at time of sailing and accompanied by an adult over the age of 18.

Travel Insurance

Protect your travel investment with insurance. Our partners at Travelex Insurance offer a variety of plans and policies to fit every trip and budget. Coverage for a pre-existing medical condition is also available if you purchase the Travel Select plan within 15 days of the initial trip payment; refer to plan details. Learn more about travel insurance or get a free quote.

Itinerary Notes

Use the itinerary as a guide only. Itineraries may be altered due to weather, wildlife, national park regulation or at the captain’s discretion. The ability to be flexible makes this type of small ship cruising unique.

Rates & Dates

Cruise Rates & Dates

Listed prices for this trip are based on foreign currency exchange rates and may vary. USD pricing will be calculated at the time of final payment based on the market conversion rate plus a 1% banking conversion fee of total invoiced amount. Please contact AdventureSmith for current pricing.

Dec 22 - Jan 01, 2023
Island Escape • 11 days
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From $8335USD
Per Person
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Jan 01 - Jan 11, 2023
Island Escape • 11 days
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From $8335USD
Per Person
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Jan 11 - Jan 21, 2023
Island Escape • 11 days
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From $8335USD
Per Person
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Jan 21 - Jan 31, 2023
Island Escape • 11 days
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From $8335USD
Per Person
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Feb 01 - Feb 11, 2023
Island Escape • 11 days
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From $8335USD
Per Person
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Feb 24 - Mar 06, 2023
Island Escape • 11 days
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From $8335USD
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Mar 18 - Mar 28, 2023
Island Escape • 11 days
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Per Person
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Accommodation

Learn About the Small Ship on Your Itinerary

Yacht
Island Escape

Purpose built for refined expedition cruising with a 6-seater helicopter on her top deck, the 32-guest Island Escape ship is truly unique. Cruise on this modern ship for gourmet food paired with wine from a curated cellar, plus activity gear, an upscale feel and a sense of camaraderie.

Deal

Current Deals on This Trip

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Offer expires June 30th, 2022
Book Island Escape Cruises With Peace of Mind

Book your New Zealand Ultimate Fiordland Cruise aboard Island Escape with confidence using these flexible booking terms.

Book with the confidence that comes from experience.

100+ combined years of experience, 7 continents explored, decades of expedition cruising around the world & here to help you find & book your dream trip.

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Ultimate Fiordland Cruise

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