Tips from Maryanne & Kyle aboard the Catamaran Begonia
February 2019: Cruising Fiordland New Zealand (tips and thoughts)
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In February of 2019 as part of a New Zealand circumnavigation we travelled with Begonia to Fiordland (yes, in New Zealand they spell Fjord with an 'i' rather than the nordic 'j') .
This page includes two sections, a Useful Tips section (hints and tips for those who follow), and a Pros and Cons section (is sailing to Fiordland worth it?).
Fiordland is spectacularly beautiful (when the sun shines) but our reality was a lot of misery - cold, rain, biting bugs you can only escape from by retreating inside the boat, ugh! On the other hand, everywhere we did go, we wish we could have spent longer. Thankfully what we'll have to remember it by is a batch of stunning photos and we'll soon be forgetting the 80% misery part.
Kyle posted his thoughts >>>in a Fiordland Thoughts blog post<<< But this web page gives a good summary of things you might need to condider before you depart.
- Useful Guides - download, source or purchase before you depart!
- Beneath the Reflections published by the Fiordland Marine Guardians. - This was our go-to guide, the best guidebook for area by miles! Free to download, inexpensive to purchase. It is so beautiful it is very much worth having to keep. Along with marine reserve information, and fishing regulations/limits, it also has excellent up to date anchorage information (where you will find mooring balls, or stern lines provided, etc). It also has useful weather and lots of good VHF tips - including radio relay channels. If you only bring one guide book - this should be it!
http://www.fmg.org.nz/ and search for the document. As of 2019 link was for 2017 - second edition
- Sailing to Fiordland and Stewart Island - What you need for a successful circumnavigation of New Zealand (2012) a great report by Jim and Katie Thomsen of Tenaya - www.tenayatravels.com - Excellent info from cruisers that went before us. Along with lots of useful tips it has an excellent list of charts etc. See
- Their NZ web pages and their Excellent NZ PDF.
- GuideBook: A Boaties' Guide to Fiordland by the Mana Cruising Club. Pick this up from any marine publication website or store (e.g. www.boatbooks.co.nz - around $45NZ. This is a rather old guide book (from the 1990s). While much is out of date, the anchorage information remains valid (minor changes only in that many now have fixed stern lines available), and it has several useful snippets of history and some trail/hike info.
- Trail guides / appropriate land maps would be useful when looking for options to go ashore - The Mana guide recommends Moir's Guide Book (Southern Section).
We did have an app with topographical maps downloaded for offline use (Pocket Earth Pro) - this has been excellent all over New Zealand so far, but did not have any of the remote trails in Fiordland marked (only the key tramper DOC trails).
So we relied on mentions in the other guides or by looking for the distinctive red triangles.
- New Zealand Marine Radio Handbook by John Allen (2009) was recommended - but we did not have a copy and I can't find if this has any newer version. More likely to be up-to-date information appeared to be given in the Beneath the Reflections Guide
- Maritime NZ Radio Handbook has basic radio advice (and emergency contact details) Download for free Along with scripts for trip reports etc. (Generic for the whole of NZ, not Fiordland specific, does not include area fisherman stations)
- Area Tourist guides (e.g. Lonely Planet type guide book, and the free regional brochures you can pick up at AA or iSite Visitor Centers) were useful - but only for the two sounds with road access (Milford and Doubtful)
- Boaties booklet - a fantastic booklet published annually and handed out for free to visitors on arrival to NZ. Good for all NZ (nothing specific for Fiordland). It has an extensive list of marinas and yacht clubs (with contact info), haul out and service centers, and some great sections on weather, tides, fishing, etc. Worth having aboard. You can also see details online and even download an app. boaties.co.nz
- NZ Fishing Rules Application was useful (for all of NZ) and up to date (just make sure you view any species of interest and mark them as favorites while you have a signal so you can then view them offline.. Or go online before you leave and print off the info you need.
- Nature Guidebooks whatever interests you specifically - birds, sea critters, geology, etc.
- Invasive Species Download the Marine Pest ID guide and be on the lookout for things that should not be there - report any you find - 0800 80 99 66. There is a nice waterproof spiral bound booklet (free) available at most marinas, and possibly DOC offices.
- Dolphin and Whale ID sheets - various organizations appreciate reports of sightings (??)
- Best Time to Visit to Fiordland? - Obviously you will be planning to visit over the New Zealand Summer (December to April is best time for 'settled' weather, Probably Dec-Feb best time for sailing to Fiordland), but various guides suggest it is better to visit Fiordland/South Island in a La Niña year. See the guide books for more details.
- In La Niña years - South Island tends to have plenty of good sunshine days (while the Bay of Islands at the top of North Island suddnely finds itself overcast and dreary).
- During El Niño years the Tasman sea gets more cold fronts and for spring and summer months the winds are stronger and the South Island generally is just more cloudy and wet than usual.
- Our visit in Feb 2019 was most likely during a mild El Niño event (based on research we did before we left), and this may well expain the number of cold and rainy days we experienced.
- Boat Insurance and other Regulations
- You must have a Clean Vessel Pass from Environment Southland (you can apply - using your RealMe account - and get a pass online on the same day provided you meet the criteria). The pass is valid for one year. This covers the whole of Southland (including Stewart Island) www.es.govt.nz and as of 2019 Application Page link
- Nobody asked to see our pass at any time, but they may have verified we had one by phone (based on our boat name) without ever contacting us.
- We later meet with a sailboat that WAS stopped in Fiordland this season - their pass had expired - they were subject to an immediate diver inspection (at their own expense $$$ BECAUSE their pass had expired) and when a single small Mediterranean fan-worm was discovered they were obliged to leave for Bluff immediately for haul out and cleaning. They could have stayed in Fiordland only if they would pay for the contained in-water cleaning option - which would need to be flown in by helicopter - but this was a very expensive option $$$$$. They reported that on haul out in Bluff the biosecurity team was there to meet them and while the hull looked clean - another single small fan worm was discovered. Best that you follow the rules. See Otago Daily Times report
- Be sure your insurance covers this region (and be aware of any limits on how many miles offshore you can go)
- Be aware of marine reserves, and general area fishing restrictions and limits (Beneath the Reflections has some info) but also the app NZ Fishing Rules was useful and up to date (just make sure you view any species of interest and mark them as favorites while you have a signal so you can then view them offline.. Or go online before you leave and print off the info you need.
- Be aware of the holding tank and dumping regulations (see Beneath the Reflections)
- If you are a NZ Vessel
- Per Boaties' Guide to Fiordland - If you travel more than 50nm offshore for any passage you must follow regulations of Shipping and Seamen's Act
- Per Boaties' Guide to Fiordland - Recommended to study NZ Yachting federation requirements for Cat 1 and Cat 2.
- Expect no cell phone service (even in the tourist towns) - certainly none in 2019 (we had plans with 2degree and with Skinny - neither ever had any signal).
- You can use your VHF radio in the usual way, but the topography limits distance any signal will transmit
- SSB Broadcasts and channels are also available if you have the equipment (but hills will block you within many fiords)
- At sea we could regularly pick up 'normal' VHF16 notices of weather broadcasts on the regional channels.
- Weather Reports
- Know your weather forecast region (Fiordland region is 'Milford') - See Marine Weather Regions
- Know the local Fishermen's Radio Stations and times for the to pick up repeated weather reports - normally twice a day - see details in Beneath the Reflections (Dual watch with channel 16). Even outside of these times the local fishermen and the support radio will no doubt help.
- There are no NowCast Stations broadcasting in Fiordland.
- If you can send email (sat phone?) - send to firstname.lastname@example.org with any subject line and in the message text enter a line with the text send https://www.radionz.co.nz/news/weather/coastal - you will get a reply with the text of that web page (which includes current and 3-day forcast for all NZ coastal regions.
Note: This is a work around since for some reason the URLs for the met service don't return the actual weather part of the web page (e.g. https://www.metservice.com/marine-surf/coastal/milford)
- If you have a sat phone, and a signal, you can call the regional Navigational Safety contact (?? - see boaties booklet) for a current forecast
- Know the local relay/repeater channels - Note: The repeater channel changes as you travel down Fiordland. See details in Beneath the Reflections
- Bring a hand held VHF for your dinghy (or kayak) too - just in case. It can also serve as a backup if your main unit fails in such a remote location.
- We used our Iridium Go (satellite data - slow, and ability to make telephone calls), along with sailmail and PredictWind type apps to download weather on demand. It's expensive, but we already had all the equipment from our pacific passages. Amazingly the Iridium go always got a signal, but often with a low number of bars - this meant our downloads still worked, but just took longer! This really helped us plan good options to head south between fiords, but VHF weather will suffice if you can be sure to tune in at the right times (Fisherman's VHF Stations).
- If you carry an EPRIB - be sure it is registered and batteries are in date/test OK
- If you have MMSI capabilities - be sure your MMSI number is registered to your vessel
- Carry appropriate flares "just in case"
- Other useful stuff to know/bring
- Not every sound/fiord has an all weather anchorage - plan ahead - refer to Beneath the Reflections and other guides for what to expect at any anchorage
- There are some very deep water anchorages - different guides make various recommendations for the length of chain/line you should carry (we had 75m of chain and 200m of rode - we never needed the rode at all, but we deliberately picked shallower anchorages AND were lucky enough to grab a mooring ball in one of the deeper coves). Plan ahead based on where you might want to visit (and your backup anchorages).
- Many anchorages are small with insufficient swing room - having a couple of stern-lines aboard is essential for such anchorages (along with the ability to deploy them). Plan ahead based on where you might want to visit (and your backup anchorages).
- Various guidebooks mentioned you should have 2 100m lines in mesh bags on deck (ready to deploy).
- We had 2 separate stern lines ready to go - 100m of floating rope (Polypropylene) and 75m of nylong webbing on a reel mounted at the stern.
- The webbing provided no spring/stretch - so next time we'd stick with line, or add a shock cord to the setup - it also didn't float which wasn't so comforting on deployment.
- We always setup the stern lines so that we could recover them from the main vessel (for a quick get away if necessary, and an easy get away when we did decide to depart) - this meant looping the rode/strap around a suitable trunk/branch with no obvious snags, or through a suitable loop in provided fixed stern lines. Both ends of our lines/webbing being secured to the boat.
- Pick your shore site such that the line isn't going to chafe against any rocks between the shore and your boat.
- Some anchorages are not suited for more than one or two vessels - so if sailing as a group - plan ahead if you want to stick together.
- We were advised to expect to raft up with fishing vessels or other visiting craft, but during our visit we never needed to.
- If you leave your boat unattended while you go ashore - it may be prudent to install some fenders on one side to allow a second vessel to tie up.
- Some anchorages have permanent stern lines installed with floats/lines you can pick up - refer to Beneath the Reflections guide for what to expect at any anchorage
- Some anchorages have lines installed with floats/lines you can pick up for bow and stern - refer to Beneath the Reflections guide for what to expect at any anchorage
- Generally mooring balls and fixed lines in listed anchorages are on a first come first serve basis (but you can also call on the local VHF channel and ask first to be sure)
- Most of the mooring balls in Deepwater Basin (Milford Sound) are owned and used by local tour boats and fishing boats - so don't just pick one up - You can contact Fiordland Lobster Company (VHF 62 in 2019) and ask if there are any available to use.
- Expect to do lots of motoring - especially within the fiords where winds can be non-existant or very strong and gusty and on the nose.
- If you can't find a suitable wind window - you may also need to motor between fiords.
- It is probably best to bring sufficient fuel (Diesel and gasoline/petrol) and not rely on topping up. If you really need fuel it may be best to call ahead and verify fuel can be available and to arrange an appointment to be sure the attentdant is at the dock (everyone seems to have multiple jobs).
- Extra Fuel cans may be required if your onboard tanks are small - if so be sure you bring what you might need and have secure storage for them aboard
- Where fuel is available (Milford and Doubtful) you will most likely need to pay in cash
- In 2019 in Milford Sound diesel was $2NZ / L at the fisherman's fuel dock in Deepwater Basin (no gasoline at the dock) - Cash only.
- When we were in Milford, the local petrol station for cars (unattended, pay by card at the pump) - was out of order.
- We didn't get fuel in Doubtful - but an email March 2019 email confirmed both diesel and petrol is avaialable there - the report by Tenaya mentioned that cash is required there also. I emailed the lodge and they say that EFPOS is now accepted for fuel purchase.
- Watermakers - note that surface level water in Fiords can be several meters deep of fresh water - do not use your watermaker if not designed for fresh water use.
- Water available at various fiords (see guides) - but most likely not treated.
- There are plenty of opportunities to catch rainwater.
- We simply filled our tanks before we headed for the area and used water conservatively.
- Pets No dogs are allowed ashore in the National parks (all of Fiordland).
- Showers - Expect to wash aboard - There are limited public showers available
- Some rather grubby (but free) ones in Milford sound - Deepwater Basin - behind the fuel dock).
- Showers are available ($5 or $10 with towel) in Doubtful Sound (Deep Cove).
- Previous cruisers reported that the Milford Lodge made showers available to cruisers - this is no longer correct (verified 2019).
- Swimming is an option but the water is COLD! (you can always wait until it rains... :-)
- Trash/Rubbish/Recycling - Expect to carry your trash (and recycling) until you reach civilization again. We were given permission to use the skip/dumpster at Milford Sound (by the fuel wharf). Be aware of the rules for any dumping at sea.
- Laundry - Expect to not find any laundry facilities (hand wash and/or store until you reach a washing machine - if cold and wet unlikely to dry readily without a dryer).
- Tenaya reported facilities in Deep cove, we didn't visit Deep cove, but faclities were verified by email (March 2019) - so Deep Cove (Doubtful Sound - Deep Cove Hostel) DOES have laundry facilities at $10/load .
- Expect no provisioning opportunities - come well prepared.
- There are plenty of chances to gather fresh seafood (be aware of restrictions and limits). Bring your fishing gear, regulation measures, puau blade, etc. We did fish on passages between fiords, but did not to fish at anchor - mainly due to the sandflies!
- We were big fans of oatmeal (with all the toppings) in the mornings - not our normal go-to breakfast, but a perfect start to a cold day.
- Deep cove only had a cafe/sandwich shop - no provisioning in town (Despite prior cruiser reports)
- Pump Outs/Holding Tanks Expect no pump out facilities - be aware of the holding tank and dumping regulations (see Beneath the Reflections).
- Afternoon Sea Breezes can blast winds and gusts up the fiords (often very strong - 20kt+) - we found it very difficult to row against at times. So plan any dinghy/kayak trips to go 'with the winds', or be sure to have a very reliable engine with sufficient oompf and good spray guard/protection/waterproofs!
- Tree Avalanches - The slopes can be so steep, and the rain so heavy, that from time to time huge areas of land just slough off into the fiords - you'll see plenty of bare patches for rock as evidence. We never saw any activity and most likely you won't either. If you do see/hear something don't linger to take a video - get out of that area immediately as there is likely to be some very disruptive waves following (aside from the rocks and tress falling).
- Expect cold nights and mornings - temperatures were regularly around 12-14 degrees C in the mornings, and the day rarely got above 20 degrees C. Winds made that feel colder still. We used two quilts on the bed.
- Consider taking hot water bottles and hand warmers - you'll thank me!
- Given the cold and humidity - expect significant condensation (especially when cooking). Do what you can to prevent it (ventilation/heating?), and protect any items that may be sensitive to condensation (use bag/tubs). Air out the boat when you can (not often given bugs and rain).
- We have heating aboard and were very glad to have it - especially in the mornings when inside the boat regularly hovered around the 10 degree C mark. We also used two quilts at night. Heating (with an external vent) also helped with the condensation.
- For passages and at anchor - we really appreciated our cockpit enclousure which makes the cockpit a bit of a greenhouse and keeps the wind off us underway. Of course it also makes sail tweaking an changes a little more challenging, but so worth it!
- If you are planning on swimming, snorkeling or scuba diving - expect and dress for cold waters of around 12-15 degrees C in February (Summer).
- Bugs! Expect lots of bugs (sandflies) at anchorages and ashore
- Oh the sandflies - they are indeed torture! 100's descend on you - they cover your body AND if they find any area unprotected they bite. The bite is felt, but isn't really 'bad' at first, however after a few hours begins to itch like crazy for several days - meaning even sleep is a misery.
Kyle says we dress up as bee keepers to exit the boat now (including head nets) - it is the only way to feel protected. Yes we have DEET spray too.
I really don't know why they are so prevalent in this region - we haven't come across then elsewhere in NZ - but Fiordland is 'famous' for them. Ugh. Once the wind picks up they seem to disappear - and they also don't seem to come out once dark, but this is only marginally helpful. Actually they seem to just drop dead overnight and we are left with the boat covered in dead little flies - it is really gross.
- We found Milford sound relatively bug free (aside from Sandfly point which we visited to walk a little on the Milford Track), and wondered what all the fuss was about in the previous guidebooks... Maybe we just got lucky?
- Sandflies seemed to be much worse in the northern fiords and thin out (but still present) as we reached Chalky Inlet/Preservation sound.
- Prep your boat hatches and doorways with effective bug covers. A full cockpit bug enclosure would be nice.
- Bring clothing and bug spray, along with any bite relief.
- We never had any mosquitos visit us, but guidebooks warned of them.
- Note - other crusers that went different years/times to us - reported sandflies were a problem, but not nearly as bad as we experienced - maybe it varies a lot and you should not be quite so put off by our experience?
- More interesting sandfly information from stuff.co.nz
- Sunshine. While we didn't have much of that - it is wise to pack suitable sun protection (clothing and sunscreen). New Zealand has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world: during the NZ Summer the earth is closer to the sun than the Northen Hemisphere summer, and the ozone layer depletion is a key factor here - so protect yourself!
- Expect lots of heavy rain days (great for waterfalls). Fiordland gets a lot of rain - Milford Sound alone over 8m (25') of rain a year, and it rains over 1/2 the days of the year (even in summer it seems) - bring appropriate foul weather clothing (and good boots/wellies for short trails which will no doubt be boggy).
- Heavy Rain days make can Radar useful. A radar reflector would enable others using radar to be more likely to see you.
- Relevant NZ Charts are listed in the Tenaya guide - but can also be determined via LINZ
- We found our Navionics charts spot on (chart plotter with data card and iPhone apps with downloaded data). We were maybe just 1-2m offset in some of the very narrow anchoring coves compared to our reported GPS - but I'm not sure if this was due to our compromised GPS signal or the charts. Regardless we were confident relying on the data we had. We made sure to arrive at any anchorage in daylight.
- Download/Update your electronic charts before you depart
- For your paper charts - Apply any relevant updates - see NZ Chart Update notices. (you can view the same notes to be aware of any changes in possible dated electronic charts for the regions you plan to travel)
- We found AIS was not widely used (transmitted) even by the larger tour boats in the sounds. So extra reason to keep a good lookout.
- It is possible to do trips between sounds (with all weather anchorages) as day trips (no need for overnight passages within Fiordland provided the wind is not against you).
- Expect some Rough Passages - We were lucky to have good NW winds for our sails south between Fiords, but seas were often big (4m seas were not uncommon) so be sure you have everything on deck (and below) well secured
- Various charts are available for purchase - for full list see the various guides. We didn't bring charts, but relied on our chart-plotter and backup apps with pre-downloaded maps (Navionics).
- Cash - there are few opportunities to spend money, but you should at least bring sufficient cash for any fuel and any emergencies (credit cards are unlikely to be accepted with the exception of organized tourist activities).
- Cash - There are no ATMs in Fiordland.
- NZ Coastguard membership is trivial in cost ($125/year as of 2019) and well worth having for your time in New Zealand just in case you run into any trouble and need towing or rescuing! If you are a member, then rescue is free. (You can sign up on line, but you need a NZ address to deliver member card to). In Fiordland I'm not sure where the nearest CG location is and you may be more likely to be helped out by the local fishing boats.
- Bring a pot big enough to cook any Crayfish/Lobster - even if you don't catch any yourself, you will no doubt be offered them by the friendly fishermen and boaters around. If you've never done this before - remember to put them in head first else that tail will splash boiling water all over you!
- We spent two weeks in Fiordland and didn't see any other sailboats visiting the area.
- Some fishing boats you see are actually owned by syndicates of friends and used for fun cruising and fishing rather than professional fishing.
- Lifejackets for your kayak/dinghy (and hand held VHF) - this is not a place to risk any accidents.
- FIRST AID! You will be very remote so take extra precautions in everything you do, bring sufficient of your medications and a good general first aid kit for any emergencies, knocks and scrapes. It is also useful to be aware of the fishermen helipad areas (just in case you need emergency evacuation).
- There is nowhere to rent a car in Fiordland (as you arrive by boat). We were advised that even the rare opportunities for any public transport are not convenient to leave and return same day (all designed for tourists traveling in the other direction)
- SCUBA tank refills - I'm not aware of any options
- Sunshine - while most days often started gray and drizzly - those blue sky/photo moments generally arrived by mid-afternoon
- We were very surprised at the sparcity of birds in Fiordland, there was very little bird noise and few sightings (land and water) - this may well be due to the sandflies.
- Like the Grand Canyon, the scale is impossible to capture in a photograph - but it won't stop you trying - and you are sure to capture some magical memories - be sure to pack your camera/batteries/charger/memory-cards etc.
- You may get very lucky and see the Southern lights from down here! Especially in the southern fiords - check for a kp index of 5 or greater via the website www.aurora-service.net/aurora-forecast/.
- If you can send email (sat phone?) - send to email@example.com with any subject line and in the message text enter a line with the text send http://www.aurora-service.net/aurora-forecast/ - you will get a reply with the text of that web page (which includes current and 3-day forecast for kp Index forecast in UTC times)
- Entertainment - bring books, games movies and projects to entertain yourself at night.
- Paid/Organized Tourist Opportunities - Milford Sound and Dusky Sound Only.
- Milford Sound had opportunities for short flights (plane and/or helicopter) - Bring your Credit Card. We didn't partake, but some of the tours looked amazing (trips to glaciers, etc)
- Various companies offer Kayak rental/tours are available in Milford and Doubtful sounds - you probably have your own kayak or dinghy though.
- Various companies offer Cruises up and down the fiord (Since you have your own boat you most likely won't be interested in these)
- SCUBA Diving - we saw a dive boat out in Milford Sound - not sure of details - but there is at least one company: Descend.
- Milford Sound (Harrison Cove) - Discovery Center / Underwater Observatory - This is a floating platform with a module that goes deep below the water and has windows to observe both 'planted' areas and the waters beyond. Opens at 8:15am and is busy most of the day with tour boats dropping off (lots of wake) - if you wish to visit with your own dinghy it is recommended you go early (before 9am i.e. before most of the tour boat traffic) - we paid $20/pp cash in 2019 and got a tour for just the two of us.
You can call them on VHF 11 And they will advise you where to tie your dinghy (and if to hold off if necessary if a tour boat is about to arrive).
Remember this is an observatory - not an aquarium - so you'll see whatever happens to be swimming by on the day - but Black Coral is set out growing around the viewing platform so you SHOULD see that! (They do however lower them to deeper water if too much fresh water is on the surface depths). In the main entry area there are numerous interesting information boards on the local area history and geology.
- Milford Sound Odds (update to guidebook)
- Milford Sound lodge no longer offers any provisioning, shower, or laundry facilities (sorry!) Restaurant, bar, coffee shop and Satellite internet are all avaialble.
- Milford Track (Milford Sound) - if you plan to take a stroll along the track, you'll need to get across the sound the the start/end of the track at Sandfly Point (For all the trampers, the trail is one way and Milford Sound is the end). However the priority on the track is to those paying trampers. The dock there is provided for the water taxi that picks them up - and you must not leave your dinghy unattended there between the hours of 1pm and 6pm (I think I recall correctly). So if you want to stroll a little on the Milford Track, plan to do it in the morning, or be dropped off and collected, or haul up your boat on land (not so easy). We managed to tie our boat out of the way of the dock and scramble ashore, but it wasn't easy. Also, as if I need to say it, be prepared for sandflies at sandfly point!
- Fiordland Lobster company (and fuel dock) monitor VHF #62 - managed by Wayne Webb, Call +64 32498093
- Deep Cove (Doubtful Sound)
- Deep Cove Hostel (and fuel dock) - (http://deepcovehostel.co.nz/ Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Phone: +64 (03) 928 5262
- We didn't enter Deep Cove, but various tours and kayak rentals are available there
Pros and Cons of visiting Fiordland with your boat
Assuming you have decided to visit Fiordland and going to get there somehow.
There are lots of ways to visit Fiordland, very few people sail their own boat there. Some take organized tours/day trips, others chose to buy/rent an RV car and camp or stay in hotels on route - so you don't have to take your boat.
If you are thinking about visiting with your own boat, here are some of the things we think you can consider when making that choice.
- It is less expensive - you'll save $100's possibly $1,000s of $NZ - if you're sailing you won't have to pay for tour boats in the fiords, nor kayak rentals etc. No need for car rental (to get there), nor hotels and restaurants (you bring your own accommodation and food), and you don't need to pay to keep your boat in a marina while you travel.
- You can bring as much stuff as your boat can carry (fishing gear, scuba gear, you have no luggage limits)
- You can explore at your own pace - as weather and opertunities or curiosity dictate. You are not forced to move on due to hotel reservations and booked tours.
- You don't have to share the experience with a crowd.
- The constant swapping between sea and fresh water will deter bottom growth (certainly compared to leaving your boat someplace while you visit by car).
- You can see areas not accessible by car or standard tour options.
- You can catch/enjoy your fill of fresh seafood (follow regulations/limits).
- You are more likely to meet with fishermen and locals.
- You are more likely to have cool/amazing wildlife experiences (seals, sea lions, whales, dolphins, penguins, etc).
- Since you are so far south, it is relatively easy to extend the cruise and include a trip to Stewart Island (@@ See Stewart Island Tips!), and maybe even a circumnavigation of South Island?).
- A tour with your own boat will generally take significantly longer (possible visa issues?)
- It is a long way to go - expect a little more wear on your boat.
- You can expect to add more motoring hours than normal for the distances involved.
- Sandflies at anchor and ashore can drive you crazy.
- You will miss out on all the inland highlights of the area.
- You will need space to carry your trash until you reach civilization again.
- Expect heavy rain, high winds along with some big seas and rough passages.
- Expect to be stuck waiting for a weather window from time to time. Especially for the bigger passages to and from Fiordland. We never needed to wait more than a day or so, but others have reported waiting 2 weeks!
- You need to be very self-sufficient (expect no stores, no cellphone signal, no internet, no laundry, no repairs, etc)
- Cold water temperatures (Warm clothing required, wet suit required/dry suit preferred).
- Cold air can cause condensation issues aboard.
- Foul Weather gear is required / Heating desirable/necessary.
Wish to contact us (or send updates or corrections)? We welcome any feedback: MaryanneLWebb via our gmail.com email account
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