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New wilderness cruise vessel for Doubtful Sound

Real Journeys launches new wilderness cruise vessel for Doubtful Sound

Purpose-built catamaran will set standard for wilderness cruising in New Zealand

DOUBTFUL SOUND, December 10, 2005 – Today tourism company Real Journeys launched a new catamaran, Patea Explorer in Doubtful Sound.

The Minister for Tourism, Hon Damien O’Connor was the guest of honour at the launch. (Speech notes available). Other dignitaries attending included Southland District Mayor Frana Cardno, MPs Eric Roy, Invercargill (National), Hon. Bill English, Clutha-Southland (National) and local iwi representatives.

Real Journeys Chief Executive Officer, Dave Hawkey said that the multi-million dollar investment in the Patea Explorer demonstrated the company’s strong confidence in the future of New Zealand tourism.

The 30-metre cruise vessel will deliver a new standard of excellence for visitors to remote Doubtful Sound in the heart of Fiordland National Park.

“Research has shown that visitors to New Zealand are increasingly discerning. They want a quality experience and the opportunity to interact with the landscape. Visiting a fiord and a national park are high on the list of things they want to do”, added Hawkey. “The Patea Explorer has been purpose-built to meet and exceed their expectations.”

Patea Explorer features contemporary styling with two decks, an upper deck with floor to ceiling windows, a main deck with large picture windows and expansive external observation decks. This will enable wilderness cruise passengers to experience Doubtful Sound at close quarters. While certified to carry up to 200 passengers, Patea Explorer loadings will be limited to a maximum of 150 to provide maximum comfort and ease of viewing.

The vessel also has an excellent sound system and external telescopic cameras linked to internal LCD screens. An on board nature guide with a roving microphone and a hand-held camera will explain and highlight points of interest. The external cameras will also be used for zooming in on wildlife and waterfalls. These images, together with navigational route data and special video clips prepared by Natural History New Zealand, will be relayed to TV screens positioned around the vessel.

The design of the vessel also reflects the fact that it operates in the protected environment of Fiordland National Park. To reduce fuel emissions and engine noise, the most up-to-date marine engines have been installed with triple layer acoustic insulation. Sewage is treated at a new plant established by Real Journeys at Deep Cove and other refuse is transported back to Manapouri.

Highlights of a trip to Doubtful Sound include crossing island-studded Lake Manapouri, travelling by coach across the sub-alpine Wilmot Pass road and viewing magnificent wilderness scenery. The opportunity to see wildlife also adds an extra dimension.

Fiordland is home to a variety of mammals, including Fiordland crested penguins (one of the world’s rarest), blue penguins (the world’s smallest), bottlenose dolphins (Doubtful Sound has a resident pod of 60); and New Zealand fur seals (there is a colony on the Nee Islets at the mouth of the fiord).


Note to editors:
This material and other information including speech notes from the Minister of Tourism, and photographs of Doubtful Sound and the launching ceremony, can be downloaded from the Real Journeys website
Trade & Media
Trade Gallery
Patea Explorer Launch

Notes to Editors

Mrs Natalie Baylis, wife of Real Journeys Chairman Bill Baylis, christened the Patea Explorer.

Real Journeys ran a staff competition to choose a name for the new vessel. Kali Low based at Bluff/Stewart Island won the competition with Patea Explorer.

Patea is the Maori name for Doubtful Sound.

The vessel was designed by Crowther Design Pty Ltd, Sydney and built by Richardson Devine Marine, Hobart.

Real Journeys runs Wilderness Day Cruises and Overnight Cruises to Doubtful Sound. The journey begins at Manapouri (coach transfers from Queenstown and Te Anau) and includes a cruise across the island-studded Lake Manapouri and a coach trip over Wilmot Pass to Deep Cove in Doubtful Sound where the cruise vessels are moored. Day cruises (all year), overnight cruises (Oct-May).

The remote unsealed 22 km Wilmot Pass road is New Zealand’s steepest tourist route (670 metres above sea level with a 1 in 5 gradient) and crosses a sub-alpine zone with extremes of weather. A very high rainfall (between 3786mm-5290mm a year) with accompanying floods, mud and landslides, not to mention snow, ice and summer dust provide diverse operational challenges.

The road was built in the 1960s to provide access for heavy equipment for the construction of the Manapouri Power Station. Floods, snow, mud and landslides lengthened the task from a projected 12 months to two years. The road cost $2.00 per cm to build.

Real Journeys has its own workshop at West Arm where the company’s coaches are serviced.

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