On a Dusky Sound cruise, you’ll sail down one of New Zealand’s largest fjords, which spans 25 miles. Located in New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park, an eco-wonderland full of jaw-dropping landscapes, misty waterfalls, and craggy cliffs, Dusky Sound earned its name after Captain Cook sailed through the fjord in 1770 just as the sun was starting to set.
This wildlife paradise is almost impossible to access via land, which is part of the reason why the sound is a refuge for exotic birds and plant species, and why your New Zealand cruise down its serene, azure waters is sure to leave an everlasting memory.
Resolution Island is not only the largest island in Fiordland, it’s the seventh-largest island in all of New Zealand. Named after Captain Cook’s ship Resolution, which docked on the island during Cook’s second voyage through Dusky Sound in 1773, Resolution Island was declared one of the country’s first reserves in an effort to preserve its native plant and animal species. As you sail past this natural sanctuary, you’ll spot wetlands, forests, and towering mountains, some of which soar over 3,000 feet high.
Dusky Sound is home to a variety of exotic animals including the endangered Crested Fiordland penguin. This particular species is easy to spot in the distance because of its yellow eyebrows that fan out from the side of its head. Aside from seeing this rare bird during your cruise down Dusky Sound, you’ll also have opportunities to spot brand-billed prions, mottled petrels, and fur seals sunbathing on top of rocky cliffs.
During Captain Cook’s second trip to Dusky Sound, his ship docked in Pickersgill Harbour, where he and his crew rested for a few weeks while their ship underwent repairs. In order to get a proper star reading, his crew cleared an acre of forest and set up an observatory called Astronomer’s Point. At the time, it became the most accurately located place on the globe.
After discovering Dusky Sound in 1770, Captain Cook returned three years later and spent six weeks exploring this natural haven. Many of the islands and coves in the area were named by Captain Cook, such as Resolution Island, Luncheon Cove, and Indian Island, which took its name from the Maori people that Cook encountered during his visit there.
Dusky Sound later became the focus of conservationist Richard Henry, who lived on the fjord’s Pigeon Island from 1894 to 1908. Henry tried to save the endangered native kakapo and kiwi birds from introduced species, such as stoats and weasels, by relocating the birds to the far off Resolution Island. But his mission ultimately failed when he noticed a weasel had made its way onto Resolution Island. Even so, his conservation efforts continue to this day, as Resolution Island was declared one of New Zealand’s first nature reserves.
You’ll be cruising during your time in Dusky Sound, but keep in mind that the local currency is the New Zealand dollar. Tipping isn’t customary in New Zealand, but if you experience excellent service, a small tip is always welcome. Credit cards are accepted in most locations.