After a rolling night at sea down the west coast, we had a splendid arrival in Milford Sound with the weather calming and the sky clearing. After breakfast, our first group of Zodiacs set out to explore the sound and visit the wonders of Stirling Falls and Mitre Peak.

Zodiac cruising through Piopiotahi, or Milford Sound, is incredible, and nothing but the experience itself can do justice to the scale of the granite walls. Lush moss and forest trees clung to the vertical walls, giving it a brooding, primeval look. We were lucky to see New Zealand fur seals, Fiordland crested penguins, and dusky dolphins during our Zodiac cruises. While we were out in the sound, Fran (Hotel Manager) met us in the tannin-colored sea with a magnificent hot chocolate station on one of the Zodiacs.

We boarded the ship for a quick trip to Doubtful Sound. We listened to a presentation from Alexander Hillary on his adventures and history in Fiordland, including an adventure three weeks ago to the interior of Fiordland’s rugged, glaciated mountains.

Our arrival in Doubtful was welcomed, as the sea calmed and the hotel staff prepared Glühwein, or mulled wine. We were greeted by dolphins in the sound, as well as by the spectacular sight of a kārearea, or a New Zealand falcon, pestering a black-backed gull. What a wonderful welcome!