Discover the time-forgot rawness of wildlife-rich Stewart Island/Rakiura and Ulva Island/Te Wharawhara on this exclusive 8-day voyage aboard a luxurious 18-guest expedition yacht.
Just 30 kilometres from the Mainland and with more than 85% of the island dedicated National Park, New Zealand's third island combines stunning landscapes spanning towering granite cliffs to unspoiled wilderness, 700-kilometres of coastline, beaches, hidden bays and coves, with abundant wildlife, numerous conservation success stories, rich history, epic sunrises and sunsets and the rightly famous hospitality of the friendly locals.
And with its Maori name, Rakiura, translating to 'the land of the glowing skies', there's also the opportunity to experience the spectacular Aurora Australis which often puts on a mesmerising show as it famously paints the southern skies.
Stewart Island and its remote, hard to reach shores and historic spots are best explored by sea including nearby predator-free Ulva Island - your best chance of seeing New Zealand's national icon the Kiwi bird during the day along with Stewart Island Robin, Stewart Island Weka, South Island Kaka, Kereru (wood pigeon), Mohua (yellowhead), Red-crowned Parakeet, Fantail, Bellbird and Tui.
Discover quirky town centre Oban in Halfmoon Bay where a drink with a view can be enjoyed at the iconic South Sea Hotel, historic Paterson Inlet, Port Pegasus and more as we experience Unseen Stewart and Ulva Islands on this unforgettable adventure.
This small Expedition Yacht accommodate with a maximum of 18 guests. Purpose built to create new opportunities of discovery around the shores of New Zealand. Combining the ultimate in comfort and personalised experiences.
Heritage Explorer is a 30 metre, 4-deck New Zealand flagged vessel and built in 2004 by renowned wooden boat building family Carey's Boatyard in Picton New Zealand.
With a 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.
Buller's Cabin - 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.
Salvin's Double Cabin - Located on the Lower Deck, Salvin’s Double cabins feature a double bed, ample storage with wardrobe and drawers, TV, PABX satellite telephone, private en-suite and a picture porthole.
Salvin's Twin Cabin - Located on the Lower Deck, Salvin’s Twin cabins feature two lower berths, ample storage with wardrobe and drawers, TV, PABX satellite telephone, private en-suite and a picture porthole.
Wandering Cabin- 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.
Royal Cabin - 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.
Departure: 26 Oct 2023
Departure: 2 Nov 2023
Please note that prices are subject to availability at time of booking and may change without notice. All prices are subject to change based on NZD/AUD currency rates.
Day 1: Invercargill/Oban
Make your way to the Invercargill airport where you will meet your fellow travellers before catching your charter flight (times will be confirmed with your voyage documents) to Oban. The Captain and Expedition Leader will be waiting to welcome you aboard Heritage Explorer at Oban and show you to your cabin as you settle into life aboard your home away from home.
Day 2: Paterson Inlet
Awake refreshed this morning after your first night on board and enjoy breakfast among the wide open spaces and serenity of Stewart Island’s primeval landscape. Today we plan to explore Paterson Inlet, its near 100-kilometre square expanse features bush-clad bays, beaches and inlets, is studded with around 20 islands and its waters frequently visited by Bottlenose Dolphins. During our time here there will be opportunities to visit the historic Norwegian whaling station in Prices Inlet and Kaipipi Bay, where from 1923 and 1933 the Ross Sea Whaling Company of Sandefjord, Norway ran a repair base where chaser boats were serviced in preparation for the Antarctic summer, walk one of the many forest trails and explore predator-free bird sanctuary Ulva Island with our knowledgeable guides and marvel at the variety of birdlife flourishing here.
Day 3: Port Adventure
Exploring southwards along the eastern coast of Stewart Island there are several well protected and important harbours for us to visit, with Port Adventure being the first of these we reach. Popular for fishing, hunting and diving this bay once housed a small Maori settlement who arrived from The Neck in 1843. Here opportunities could include visiting the Port Adventure Hunters Hut in the Northern Arm, Zodiac cruising the coastline and the spectacular Heron River, along with adventures ashore on foot.
Days 4 to 6: Port Pegasus
Sure to be one of the highlights of our voyage, we have three days to explore the remote, undisturbed beauty of Port Pegasus. Isolated at the southern end of the island, with access predominantly by sea, there is much to explore and experience among this undisturbed wilderness over the following three days. Boasting an expansive harbour laced with waterways, arms and channels, several waterfalls and three main islands - Pearl Island (the largest) in the north, Anchorage Island in the centre, and Noble Island in the south, provides an unrivalled opportunity to immerse yourself in the scenic beauty of Stewart Island. We will spend our time exploring Zodiac and kayak, venturing into hidden coves and landing on pristine white sand beaches where few have set foot before. There are also a number of excellent walking options including exploring the Granite Domes of Gog and Magog, or venturing onto the southern extension of the subalpine Tin Range, the eastern area of which would become the last refuge for Kākāpo in the second half of the twentieth century. The marine life here abounds with Hooker’s/New Zealand Sea Lions and Yellow-eyed Penguins regularly seen. For those who enjoy fishing there will be ample opportunity to try your luck at catching a meal for the table.
Day 7: Lords River
Returning northwards along the shores of Stewart Island’s east coast, Heritage Explorer ventures into the sheltered waters of Lords River, the longest navigable river on Stewart Island at 8 kilometres. Considered one of the most spectacular and unspoilt areas of New Zealand and the country’s Amazon, a historic deed was signed in 1999 to protect the area’s 3,515 hectares of virgin native forest. Here we will take the opportunity to enjoy a Zodiac safari up this fascinating winding estuary with its tannin-stained water reminiscent of Fiordland as it snakes its way to the ocean from the interior of Stewart Island.
Day 8: Oban/Invercargill
This morning Heritage Explorer returns to Oban where, after a final breakfast and farewells, you will be transferred to the airport to catch your charter flight to Invercargill. In case of unexpected delays, we ask you not to book any onward travel from Invercargill until after midday. Note: During our voyage, circumstances may make it necessary or desirable to deviate from the proposed itinerary. This can include poor weather and opportunities for making unplanned excursions. Your Expedition Leader will keep you fully informed.