The “Crew Show” on board National Geographic Orion last night was in stark contrast to the peace and serenity that welcomed those up at sunrise to watch our departure from Doubtful Sound. Bellbirds chirped the dawn chorus, and once underway, dusky dolphins joined us off the bow to lead us out into the Tasman Sea.

Winding through the narrow passages of Fiordland, we repositioned to Dusky Sound, the third and last fiord we will be visiting on this voyage.

Here, Zodiac tours navigated the narrow channels, offering an insight into how Aotearoa’s temperate rainforest may have looked when the Polynesian people first arrived. With predators largely eradicated from these islands, ground-nesting birds have been able to repopulate with a little assistance from conservationists. Rare endemic bird sightings included the South Island saddleback, New Zealand falcon, and aptly named yellowhead. Accompanying the birdsong were the whimpers of New Zealand fur seal pups, distraught at being away from their moms.