It’s difficult to describe the feeling, that deep stirring of your soul when you experience it for the first time. Venturing into Milford Sound from the Tasman Sea does something to you. The sheer grandeur of Mother Nature showing off her finest is more than being simply awestruck, it's a humbling, profound and utterly unforgettable moment of your life.
And to think New Zealand’s South Island does this to you over and over again - within short distances - makes it one of the world’s most astounding places to visit.
The undoubted highlight of the dramatic Fiordland National Park, Milford Sound is one of 14 mighty fiords flanked by sheer granite cliffs that were forged by glaciers over 100,000 years. And you can feel that energy all around you. Cascading waterfalls fuelled by pristine alpine snow plummet into deep lakes leaving masses of water droplets constantly swirling through the canyons and all around you.
It’s here in this intoxicating environment that Tolkien’s pages came to life as Middle Earth in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Rudyard Kipling was so moved by the Sound, he declared it the ‘eighth wonder of the world’ when he visited in 1891.
Along the 15-kilometre labyrinth of waterways snaking inland from the Tasman, you’ll see Hector’s, Dusky and Bottlenose Dolphins, Fiordland and Little Penguins and New Zealand Fur Seals frolicking below the forests of conifers, mountain beech and dense ferns.
To see all this unfold from the water, one majestic vista after another is one thing but seeing it from the decks of an opulent cruise liner is almost otherworldly.
Discover Aotearoa with Cunard.
And in true Cunard style, expect immersive cultural experiences and expert speakers on board to richly complement your enjoyment of the incredible sights around you. This part of the world is full of contrasts and surprises; from the breathtaking beauty of the Sounds, to the cultural vibrancy of Dunedin.
The city of 600,000 is characterised by its gorgeous Edwardian and Victorian architecture but its standout is a Flemish Renaissance-influenced building affectionately known as the world’s most ornate gingerbread house. The striking limestone set against the black basalt make the Dunedin Railway Station one of New Zealand’s most photographed structures. And its beauty is more than skin deep; inside you’ll find an elaborate mosaic floor made up of 750,000 Royal Doulton porcelain tiles.
Once you’ve marvelled at the interior, make sure to hit the rails for New Zealand’s most spectacular train journey to Taireri Gorge. After traversing the Otago plains, this amazing adventure does more than show off the natural beauty of the region - you’ll be staggered by the engineering that made it possible as you pass through 10 tunnels and cross the mighty Wingatui Viaduct which is the second largest iron structure in the world.
Dunedin has many more scenic attractions within easy reach of the CBD including the country’s only castle; the beautiful Larnach built in 1871 and lovingly restored into a stunning showpiece of the south. For more living history, also consider a visit to Toitu Otago Early Settlers Museum and Olveston Historic Home. Or, for something different, try Speights Brewery, the Royal Albatross Centre or the Penguin Palace to discover the story of the curious Yellow-Eyed Penguins.
If culture is more your speed, stroll the Dunedin Street Art Trail where renowned local and international artists have transformed cityscapes into urban canvases.
One of the great joys of sailing with Cunard in this part of the world is your time at sea watching that incredible scenery roll by while you revel in the cruise line’s signature brand of travel. The sophistication, the extra touches and the carefully curated add-ons set this iconic fleet apart. With just two guests for each crew member and more space than other ships their size, Cunard vessels have no peer.
Add the spectacle of Gala Evenings, celebrated afternoon teas, cocktails and world-class entertainment to your sailing exploration of one of the world’s great destinations and quite simply, you have the voyage of a lifetime in front of you.