We swoop over the magnificent snowy peaks on a day as blue as blue as can be, and gasp in awe as Milford Sound reveals herself. The pilot picks out our landing place on the deck of the
Fiordland Jewel, and we descend ever so gently to the helipad.
The helicopter is just one way to arrive for the overnight stay, with the rest of the passengers boarding the vessel at the Sound that morning.
The 24-metre three-deck catamaran, designed and built by Fiordland Discovery owner and skipper Rob Swale, carries 20 passengers in nine cabins. I am in the Governor’s Suite, the only room on the top deck, with a huge bed, large windows on two sides and an ensuite. My host advises to leave the (remote controlled) blinds open, so I can lie in bed and admire the majestic landscape until I fall asleep. Good advice.
We spend the afternoon cruising Milford Sound, skipper Shawn Poynter, pointing out Mitre Peak, giving facts and figures about the Sound and nosing the Jewel so close to the 465-metre Stirling Falls that those brave enough to venture on the front deck have a shower under the spray.
Once settled for the night in Deepwater Basin, we enjoy pre-dinner drinks in the lovely lounge as well as a three-course seafood dinner. Afterwards, several passengers head up to the chilly deck to chat and drink champagne in the hot tub. I am too immersed in the incredible starscape overhead.
In the morning, after a top-notch breakfast, we kayak or go out in the tender to see the Sound from water level. The soldier-straight cliffs are gorgeous up close, with vegetation
growing out of beds of sphagnum moss. We encounter two seals and hear of the seven-gilled sharks that have been discovered by the vessel’s Remote Operating Vehicle (ROV) deep
in the 45-metre depths of the Sound.
After another cruise around this natural masterpiece, carved out by glaciers, we come to a stop, and I hear the blades of the helicopter coming back to retrieve us. I have time to add my praise of this wonderful experience in the guest book, before saying goodbye to my new friends and heading back over the beautiful Fiordland. To top off this wondrous 24 hours, we land on a glacier and go for a short stroll outside in this heavenly landscape. The word spectacular just doesn’t cut it.
Find out more about Fiordland Discovery’s cruises to Milford Sound and beyond. Click HERE for info
The company offers overnight cruises on Fiordland Jewel from 1 October 2019 to 14 April 2020, with off-peak cruises available from 1-30 September 2019. The cruises include:
- A night on Fiordland Jewel, which carries 20 passengers in nine cabins, all with ensuite bathrooms
- Two cruises of Milford Sound
- 3-course meal, full cooked & continental breakfast prepared by the onboard chef
- Kayaking & Zodiac tender boat explorations (weather permitting)
- View underwater film footage captured by our Remote Operating Vehicle (ROV)
- Use of top-deck hot tub following dinner
Where to stay in Queenstown:
Blanket Bay in Glenorchy is absolutely breathtaking and the helicopter will practically land on the lawn when you return from the ship. Check it out HERE.
In Queenstown, take your pick of these gems:
Ignition Self Drive
If the idea of driving a luxury vehicle from Queenstown to Glenorchy and then being transferred to the ship, Ignition Self Drive has a range of beautiful cars including Lamborghini, Aston Martin, Porsche and Audi. I was lucky to find myself in an Aston Martin, and my head was spinning as I didn’t know where to look – at the sheer elegance of the car – both inside and out – or at the jaw-dropping scenery we were purring through on the way from Queenstown to Glenorchy on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. If you like the idea of driving around Queenstown in a head-turning car, this is the way to go. More on Ignition Self Drive on this video link