New Zealand: Milford Sound to Wellington

South Island Expedition Aboard the Coral Discoverer


With its stunning coastal landscapes, quaint seaside towns, and abundance of marine life, New Zealand is the ideal country to explore on a small ship expedition. Board the Coral Discoverer and cruise to the wildest locations and most out-of-the-way places the South Island has to offer. Visit the magnificent Marlborough Sounds and its extensive sea-plunged valleys, Zodiac to the deep lakes and surging waterfalls of Fiordland, and walk along the shores of little known, slow-paced Stewart Island, the only spot where the gentle Kiwi bird is still found in the wild. Get up close to wildlife with your Expedition Team, take guided bush walks, and paddle by kayak to bird-covered beaches. Your adventure begins in Queenstown, set amid the dramatic Southern Alps, and ends in Wellington, New Zealand’s colorful capital.

Note: This cruise is not exclusive to, nor operated by, Wilderness Travel, who acts solely as agent in booking your reservation with the ship operator. The itinerary, lecturers, and all other arrangements are subject to change at the discretion of the cruise line.


Day 1, Jan 23, 2022
Queenstown / Milford Sound

Transfer from Queenstown to Milford Sound via the morning coach to board Coral Discoverer at 2:00 pm. Departing at 3:00 pm you make your way through the iconic Milford Sound with its spectacular mirror images of the towering Mitre Peak. Take in the sites while enjoying the Captain’s Welcome Drinks and meeting the crew and your fellow passengers.

Day 2, Jan 24, 2022
Doubtful Sound / Thompson Sound

Wake up to the magnificent scenery of Doubtful Sound. This morning you explore the most spectacular and deepest waterway in Fiordland. Join guest lecturers aboard the Xplorer and cruise through a maze of hidden channels home to a myriad of wildlife including dolphins, seals and penguins. Sail from Doubtful Sound into Thompson Sound to discover more isolated scenes of breathtaking wilderness in these ancient glacial fiords.

Day 3, Jan 25, 2022
Dusky Sound / Pigeon Island

Depart Fiordland National Park via the dramatic Dusky Sound, stopping at Pigeon Island. You will be in awe of the sheer rugged beauty of Fiordland. Cruise among towering cliffs, cascading waterfalls, pass some of the 365 small islands and explore the depths of the inlets in the Zodiacs.

Day 4, Jan 26, 2022
Stewart & Ulva Islands

Stewart Island (Rakiura) is New Zealand’s little known third island. There is a very small settlement of people on the island, but most ‘mainland’ New Zealanders have never ventured to the curious wild land. Ulva Island is also found within the Rakiura National Park, offering a predator-free environment for rare and endangered birds including South Island Saddleback, Yellowhead, Rifleman, Stewart Island Robin, and the iconic Kiwi; the Stewart Island Brown Kiwi birds are known to venture out in daylight. On Ulva Island, take a guided walk to encounter this vast array of birdlife and hopefully spot a few fur seals lazing on the shore during the tour.

An optional tour can be taken ashore Stewart Island at additional cost.

Day 5, Jan 27, 2022

Before docking in Dunedin, you are welcomed to Otago Peninsula with sights of the world’s only mainland breeding colony of northern royal albatross. You may also see a colony of the world’s rarest penguin, the yellow-eyed penguin and various other unique species. Dunedin City is regarded as New Zealand’s architectural heritage capital. There will be time to explore all that the city has to offer including the Victorian and Edwardian structures, art galleries and botanical gardens.

Day 6, Jan 28, 2022

Today you sail into the Banks Peninsula, named for ‘first fleet’ botanist Joseph Banks, and discover the history of Akaroa. This scenic village, built on the edge of a sunken volcanic crater, was once a bustling French colonised whaling community. Take a leisurely walk through the village to discover its obscure French history, friendly cafes and great craft stores. Optional shore excursions are offered at Akaroa, such as swimming with the smallest and rarest dolphin—the Hectors Dolphin.

Day 7, Jan 29, 2022

The picturesque town of Kaikoura is located between rugged mountain ranges and the Pacific Ocean. 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 Giant Sperm Whale. Aboard a small specialised boat, you'll explore the ocean in search of the Giant Sperm Whale.

Day 8, Jan 30, 2022
Marlborough Sound

Today, explore the spectacular waterways of Marlborough Sounds including the fjord-like Queen Charlotte Sound. You will retrace the path of Captain Cook’s three exploratory voyages, including a stop at Ships Cove.

Day 9, Jan 31, 2022
Tasman Bay / Golden Bay

Disembark onto Golden Bay with its inviting golden sand beach between the crystalline blue waters and native Manuka and fern forests. Venture out with expedition leaders to kayak around the coastline and joining an informative bush walk in Abel Tasman National Park.

Day 10, Feb 1, 2022
Marlborough Sound

You will enjoy a multitude of interpreted explorations on the Xplorer and Zodiac vessels today, all guided by the expedition team and guest lecturers. You'll visit Moturoa Island with its abundant native bird life and visit remote coastal towns and location often only accessible by boat. Tonight, enjoy the Captain’s Farewell Drinks while reflecting on your journey exploring New Zealand’s remote coast.

Day 11, Feb 2, 2022

Say farewell and disembark at 8:00 am in New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington.



Experience the remote beauty of Fiordland National Park
Kayak and bush-walk in national parks less accessible by land, including Abel Tasman National Park
Spend two days exploring the more inaccessible and spectacular areas of the Marlborough Sounds
Visit remote Stewart Island and encounter some of New Zealand’s iconic wildlife
Explore some of the beautiful and historic east coast cities such as Dunedin
Get close to marine wildlife in their natural environment in Akaroa, Kaikoura, and Fiordland


Length: 10 days
Cost From: $9120  
Arrive: Queenstown, New Zealand
Depart: Wellington, New Zealand
Lodging: 10 nights aboard a 72-passenger expedition vessel
Meals: All meals aboard ship included
Activity: Sea Kayaking, Walking, Wildlife & Natural History, Whale Watching, Small Ship Cruising
Trip Level:

11-day cruise, cultural explorations and walking tours
Cruise collection 2021 brochure

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