Rob and Kate Swale own and operate Fiordland Discovery, offering unrivalled access to Milford Sound and Fiordland with their 5-star Fiordland Jewel boat that features a helipad, hot tub, private king suite and chef-prepared cuisine.
Guests can experience a range of trips from exploring Milford Sound overnight – a seven-day scenic cruise of Preservation Inlet and the surrounding Southern Fiords including Doubtful and Dusky Sound, or privately charter the boat for multi-day fishing, hunting and diving trips – while taking in New Zealand’s largest national park in complete luxury.
Designed and built by Rob – one of the area’s most experienced skippers – Fiordland Jewel can sleep 20 passengers a night in nine climate-controlled cabins, each with their own ensuite bathroom.
The idea behind Fiordland Discovery and the Jewel is to offer visitors up-close-and-personal access to the stunning wilderness area through operators that have a genuine connection to the area, Rob explains.
“We wanted a boat that gave Fiordland and the incredible scenery justice,” he says. “We wanted our guests to be able to lie in bed in the morning and take in the scenery.”
It wasn’t easy finding the perfect boat: “I travelled the globe to look for a suitable boat thinking it would be an easy task, but after years of looking, I realised I needed to design and build it myself. A key aspect was to ensure there were large windows in the cabins and the lounge, and we wanted private cabins with ensuites to allow families and children to enjoy the area.
Fiordland is in Rob’s blood. His father John “Swaley” Swale was a commercial crayfisherman and Rob grew up surrounded by the sea and Fiordland, spending much of his childhood on his father’s boat Voska.
Rob met Kate in Queenstown 27 years ago when she first arrived on her OE from England. Before having their three children Jack (20), Joe (18) and Luca (15), Kate even worked a stint as Rob’s deckhand in Doubtful Sound until they eventually settled in Queenstown.
Rob loves sharing Fiordland and Milford Sound with guests and his knowledge of the area is immense. Throughout his years as a commercial fisherman, Rob has extensively mapped the seafloor of Fiordland with state-of-the-art 3D Waasp technology.
The couple’s passion has been passed on to their children, with Jack and Joe working on board as crew and completing their diving certificates, while Luca wants to pursue a career in marine biology.
“We’re a down-to-earth family that loves sharing our passion for this spectacular area with our guests,” Kate says. “We want to help people experience the very best this region has to offer and for them to feel special about their time in Fiordland.”
Our vehicles are of the highest standards, as your comfort and safety is our foremost concern, this includes the Jewel, the ROV, and our Coach Connections from Queenstown or Te Anau.
We offer luxury Coach connections to and from our Overnight Boat Cruises in Milford Sound, as Milford Sound is approximately a 5-6 hour drive, one-way, from Queenstown, and a 2.5-3 hour drive, one-way, drive from Te Anau.
This Milford Sound 'road trip' is rated as one of New Zealand's finest experiences, however being in Fiordland it is also subject to the weather that makes the region famous and somewhat unpredicatble.
As your comfort and saftey is our primary concern, we want you to be able to capture the views and vistas around you on your journey in to Milford Sound, and leave the responsibilities to our carefully selected professional drivers.
We have two brand new Volkswagen Crafter's that are designed with this journey in mind. We offer a door-to-door service, and can accommodate up to 11 people, and larger numbers by arrangement.
You can book your transport with us here.
Please note all bookings must be made return. We do not offer one way bookings. Your return booking ensures that if flights are cancelled due to Fiordland weather conditions, you have a means of getting to your destination by road, however the timing must work in with when we depart Milford, which is at approximately 9.30am.
Please call the day before your departure to confirm pick-up arrangements and times on 0800100105 or +6434413322.
An ROV is an unoccupied underwater robot that is connected to a vessel, via a series of cables. The cables transmit command and control signals between the operator and the ROV, allowing remote control of the vehicle.
Our ROV provides high definition underwater footage of Milford Sound and Fiordland
The ROV descends under water, and is connected to the boat by a fibre optic umbilical-cable
Remotely controlled from aboard the boat, the ROV uses high-quality motors and high-torque propellers to supply thruster power to the ROV, which allows for vertical, horizontal and lateral movements to depths of down to 600m
Purpose built for Milford Sound and Fiordland's dark waters, it has powerful lights that attract marine life
The high definition camera mounted in the ROV, captures live underwater footage which is transmitted via the cable, back to the two big screen TV's in our boat lounge