From October to April, cruise ships transit the fiords beginning or ending at Milford.
Cruise ships have been visiting the Southland coast for several years, mostly into the Fiords and Paterson Inlet at Stewart Island. The number of visits and the size of the vessels have both increased. The carrying capacity of those vessels has meant that the number of cruise passengers visiting Southland's coast has increased from around 6,300 in 2001/2002 to approximately 110,000 passengers in 2011/2012.
Since the late 1990 Environment Southland has formed a very close working relationship with Cruise New Zealand - the country's representative of the wider cruise industry - and has significant contacts world-wide that assist the Council in developing and maintaining the necessary relationships with the cruise company owners.
The Deed of Agreement
The Deed of Agreement for cruise ships wishing to enter the Fiords was introduced through the Regional Coastal Plan in 2001. Section 13 of the Coastal Plan deals with cruise ships operating in the internal waters of the Southland region, and cruise ships either require a resource consent or they have to sign into the Deed of Agreement. The signatories to the Deed are Environment Southland and individual international cruise companies.
The Deed of Agreement is a quasi-resource consent and places environmental obligations on the companies operating ships entering and transiting the Fiords. The requirements set out in the Deed are similar to the conditions of any resource consent. The Deed also assists in managing the potentially significant risks
associated with large ship movements and transits through the enclosed waters of the Fiords. Significant response funds would be required should there be a ship incident within the isolated parts of the Fiords.
The Deed was updated and sign off by Council in April 2021.
Fiordland/Coastal Passenger Ship Emergency Plan
The Southern Police District maintains a comprehensive plan for responding to an incident involving passenger ships in Fiordland or New Zealand's Southern coast and it is regularly exercised. These waters are some of the most remote and inaccessible in the world. Communications, even by satellite telephone, is often difficult. To ensure that the response to an emergency is effective and timely the basic information contained in the attached form should be transmitted as soon as possible. This information can be transmitted by voice or fax.
Cruise ship schedule
For the schedule and names of cruise ships visiting New Zealand, visit the website of the NZ Cruise Association.
Cruise ships system login
If you are a cruise ship operator, you can log into our online cruise ship system here.
Fiordland Pilotage Standard Operating Procedures
The SOPs provide vessel operators and crew with appropriate navigation safety course cards.