After leaving Melbourne, we headed east, crossed the Tasman Sea again (which was still well behaved) and arrived at the southwestern corner of the south island of New Zealand on March 16th. Today we explored 2 of the fjords in Fjordlands National Park. There were 3 fjords on the agenda, but a “man overboard” sensor was activated, and the ensuing mayhem forced us to abort one. We spent 2 hours trolling around the area looking for the victim. Several fishing boats answered the distress call and two helicopters from Dunedin scanned from the skies. It was quite a scene. Everyone with a pair of binoculars pitched in. One of the fishing boats found a freshly wet baseball cap, and the Capitan asked that if the owner was on board to step forward and claim it. No one did. He probably feared a lashing! About an hour after the chaos commenced, we were finally instructed to go back to our staterooms so a proper head count could be conducted. Umm… shouldn’t they have done that AN HOUR AGO? Duh.
Ends up that everyone was accounted for, and they called off the search. I was a bit disappointed. There are a handful of supremely annoying passengers, and I assumed that one of them had been “helped” over the side.
So what happened? If the baseball cap set off the sensor, that’s nuts. Small objects are often grabbed by the wind and end up in the sea. Or, it could have been a large bird that flew by, and got to close. Or, it could simply have been a malfunction. We may never know. I would like to see the bill for the two recuse helicopters. I am sure it will be a whopper.
Here is a map of the Fjordlands National Park.
We traversed Milford and Dusky Sounds. The one we had to skip, was Doubtful Sound. I’m still not over it. The park was established in 1952 and it covers 3.1 million acres of pristine wilderness. There are glaciers up in the mountains, but none of them stretch to the water like they do in the Chilean Fjords. I hope you enjoy the photos.
Dunedin, New Zealand is next.