A real conservation journey in Dusky Sound

Department of Conservation —  27/10/2015

By Kate Hebblethwaite, Senior Ranger in Te Anau.

In September DOC joined Real Journeys on a Dusky Sound voyage, inviting conservation-minded people to take part in a unique expedition aboard the Milford Wanderer to one of the most remote parts of Fiordland.

Cascade Cove, Dusky Sound. Photo: Michelle Crouchley.

Not a bad way to start the morning – Cascade Cove, Dusky Sound

DOC has a vision to make Dusky Sound one of the most intact ecosystems in the world. This trip offered people a great way to experience some of the conservation work taking place in Dusky Sound helping to achieve this goal.

This is the first time Real Journeys and DOC have partnered in such a project and, to the delight of both organisations, within four days all 29 places on the cruise had sold out.

View over Anchor Island, Dusky Sound. Photo: Chris Birmingham.

View over Anchor Island, Dusky Sound

The four day cruise visited four of Dusky’s remote islands – Anchor, Indian, Pigeon and Resolution – where DOC is undertaking conservation work, and the historic site of Pickersgill Harbour. Captain Cook based his crew at Pickersgill Harbour for five weeks in 1773, setting up an astronomer’s observatory to fix the longitude and latitude of the headland and brewing New Zealand’s first beer!

The Milford Wanderer at Anchor Island. Photo: Michelle Crouchley.

The Milford Wanderer at Anchor Island

With the able assistance of local DOC rangers, participants spent day two on pest-free Anchor Island, undertaking a variety of work including trap checking, kiwi monitoring and track maintenance. Anchor Island is home to a significant kākāpō population, as well as mohua, saddleback/tieke, and little spotted kiwi.

Maori food/storage pits on Pigeon Island, Dusky Sound. Photo: Felix Kluge.

Maori food/storage pits on Pigeon Island, Dusky Sound

However, life aboard the Milford Wanderer wasn’t all hard graft and muddy boots. Passengers also enjoyed all the usual comforts and elements of a Real Journeys Discovery Expedition, including a heli-flight, kayak outing, and lots of delicious home baking. In the evening, participants heard from DOC staff about conservation projects in the area.

South Island robin on Anchor Island. Photo: Barry Harcourt.

South Island robin on Anchor Island

The cruise was a resounding success with great positive feedback from the largely Southland-based passengers. The trip raised over $7,500 for DOC’s Dusky Sound Restoration and Conservation programme.

Passengers take part in kiwi telemetry tracking on Anchor Island. Photo: Richard Parkinson.

Passengers take part in kiwi telemetry tracking on Anchor Island

DOC is working with Real Journeys to make the Dusky Sound conservation cruise a regular feature. Next year’s Conservation Discovery Expedition will take place on 19-23 September 2016.