Cruise Details

This popular tour provides the opportunity to enjoy a scenic cruise and guided walk to the Whalers' Base and other historic locations as well as a chance to view some wildlife. Your Skipper / Guide will provide some excellent commentary.

Paterson Inlet is a pristine waterway, situated in the middle of Stewart Island, approximately 100 square kilometres in size, with 20 islands and islets.

For nine seasons, the Norwegians travelled to the Ross Sea of Antarctica to capture blue whales. The historic Norwegian Whalers' Base is located on the northern shoreline of Paterson Inlet. It was established in the 1920's to provide an overwintering and repair base for harpoon boats returning from the Ross Sea.  In the 1930's the Whalers' Base was abandoned after the last whaling season in 1932/1933.

The Whalers' Base, also known as the Kaipipi Shipyard has now largely reverted to native bush. It is set in a beautiful part of Paterson Inlet in sheltered waters overlooking Kidney Fern. A delightful short walk takes you from Millars Beach Jetty where we disembark, to the Whalers' Base where the foundation of buildings, propellars and boiler, along with other artefacts still remain. Interpretation panels provide an insight into the life of the Norwegians and Stewart Islander's who worked and lived and worked here.

We visit Kaipipi Bay and Ryans Creek, former saw milling sites, and the charming bay surrounded by Faith, Hope and Charity Islands.

Our itinerary for this cruise may operate in reverse, based on weather, sea conditions and wildlife opportunities. We highly recommend our 3 hours tour. For those with limited time and subject to our availability we also offer a 1 hour cruise only to the Whaler's Base or a 2 hour cruise and guided walk.  You gain a better appreciation of the area on our guided walks. 


Paterson Inlet

birds seen

Some commonly seen birds include:

Land birds: Bellbird, tui, wood pigeon, grey warbler, fantail, South Island tomtit.

Sea birds: Little blue penguin

Shore birds: Royal spoonbills, white-fronted tern, pied and variable oystercatchers, Stewart Island shag, spotted shag, pied shag, little black shag.

Note: on some of our trips we have also seen yellow-eyed penguin.

Wildlife Seen

Bottle-nosed dolphins are seen occasionally.


Regenerating mixed hardwood-podocarp forest, manuka and flax.

Special Offers

Please also see our Gift Vouchers & Special Offers page for combined tours that include our Ulva Island Birding tour.


"Fabulous tour that included beautiful scenery, history and wildlife. The guide was fabulous and went out of her way so we could see the birds that we wanted to see."


  • What we do

    Meet our Skipper at Golden Bay Wharf, 10 minutes prior to the tour departure time.

    Your skipper will make you comfortable, show you where we are going and take you on our leisurely and informative cruise. 

    Travel to Millars Beach, disembarking at the Jetty. We take you on our guided walk to the site of the Norwegian Whalers' base, pointing out interesting features along the way.

    At the Whalers' Base, take time to discover historic relics on the land and beach, whilst enjoying the picturesque, tranquil surrounds. 

    Return to the jetty to embark our boat, cruise slowly around hidden bays. Look out for wildlife during your cruise and on your guided walk.

    We return to Golden Bay Wharf.

Ruggedy Range™
Clients exploring around the artefacts and beach

Pricing & Info


NZ $180.00 per person

Important: We also offer a 1 hour cruise (NZ $90.00) or 2 hour cruise with guided walk (NZ $150.00), subject to our schedules.  Enquiries welcome.


NZ $110.00 per person

Important: We also offer a 1 hour cruise (NZ $60.00) or 2 hour cruise with guided walk (NZ $90.00), subject to our schedules.  Enquiries welcome.


Scenic cruise, guided walk, admin costs.


Transfers to and/or from Golden Bay Wharf: NZ $7.00 one-way or NZ $14.00 return per person.

Min persons

4 persons

Important: If your booking is for less than the minimum, check to see if we have achieved the minimum or, we can reserve spaces, whilst we await further bookings.

Max persons

8 to 12 persons


3 hours
(Approx. 1.75 hour cruise, 0.75 hour leisurely walk, 0.50 hour at Whalers' Base).


Distance walked: Approx. 3 kms (1 mile) return walk.


Forest track, gentle, muddy in places with some boardwalk and steps.


Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr
9.00 am to 12.00 noon or 1.15 pm to 4.15 pm

May, Jun, Jul, Aug
9.30 am to 12.30 pm

Important: Times may vary for weather/sea conditions, tides and bookings.  Alternative times to fit in with your itinerary may be possible, subject to our availability.


Golden Bay Wharf

Suitable for

Reasonable fitness and agility.
Young children accepted.

Departure Dates

Departs subject to demand and suitable weather and sea conditions.
Prior bookings recommended.