Trip Report: Beautiful Fiordland, New Zealand

Another- ABSOLUTELY -Epic 18-day adventure.

Whanganui to Fiordland return via Milford sound.

A 2700km road trip and the f350 loved every minute of it.

With such an impressive combination of trailer boat and tow vehicle we attracted a lot of very positive attention every step of the way. Lots of great conversations were had with complete strangers and sometimes we struggled to break away from them when we stopped for fuel, coffees, or food to continue our journey.

This trips crew were long term friends Kevin and Duncan from Whanganui and Wanaka, and my father Vic from Timaru. Vic inspires me at 90yrs of age and he is still out there doing it.

Kevin and I allowed 3 days travel time either way to take the pressure off and catch up with family along the way in Kaikoura and Timaru.

The road trip was amazing as we have such a beautiful country with so much variation and spectacular views around every corner.

To say I was relieved when we were safely through the Homer tunnel and down into Milford Sound would be an understatement.

The engine breaking on the truck was spectacular, and I wouldn’t like to attempt the decent into the Fiord with such a big rig with a combined weight over 10.5 tons without it.

The views were epic, and it’s hard to describe just how special this part of NZ is.



We had always planned to arrive later in the evening to avoid most of the outbound tourist traffic on the road so on arrival we spent a couple of hours setting up the boat. Pumped up the Takacat tender, which exceeded my expectations overall over the entire trip. I have no issues recommending this option for those looking for an inflatable tender.

We then overnighted in the boat on the hard and launched early the next morning.

The boat ramp at freshwater basin was excellent but the channel from the basin to the main sound is narrow and leaves little room for error especially at low tide.

We trolled lures as we headed south from Milford hoping for a tuna, as we did whenever we moved between sounds, but unfortunately they eluded us

Overall, we had amazing weather with only one day of true west coast rain which ignited the waterfalls which were impressive. We spent most of our trip in George and Bligh sounds and the days just disappeared. We managed to get a spiker up the Wild native’s river and shot another on a slip which despite my best efforts I could not recover. I can also personally recommend the benefits of getting back to the boat and out of the bush by dark as things get very interesting otherwise.

The diving was a highlight for us all with the crystal-clear water, out the front of the sounds, and the amazing Black and White coral under the freshwater layer in the inner sounds. We ate ourselves sick with crayfish, cod and venison over the trip and only kept a few crayfish for family and friends and a couple of feeds of fish to take home.

On the final day as we ran back north to Milford, we got a chance to push Absolutely in a solid 3m following sea with 30-50knots of cross winds which provided us with an exhilarating ride and the boat excelled in the conditions it was built to handle.

It was another Epic trip and a big thanks to Allan, Ethan, Dan, and the team at Makaira for helping make my dreams turn to reality.


Trip Report: Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand


Boat: 'Absolutely'

Model: Makaira Gen3 1000

Engine: Volvo D6 380hp

Distance Travelled: 100NM+

Diesel Burned: 200l (53gal)

Trolling: 7knots

Running: 24knots

Embarking on a first-time journey in my new Makaira 10m trailer boat to the Marlborough Sounds from Mana Boat Club was an exhilarating experience filled with anticipation and excitement. Despite a less-than-ideal weather forecast for the trip across Cook Strait, our spirits were high, and the promise of an excellent Saturday kept us optimistic. With the new boat in tow, we set out from Whanganui on a Thursday morning, making a quick stop for supplies along the way.

Smooth Launch at Mana Boat Club:

The journey began smoothly with the excellent launching facilities at Mana Boat Club. The seamless process of getting our boat in the water set a positive tone for the adventure ahead. However, my slight anxiety about having a new crew on board was quickly dispelled as they proved to be an exceptional team throughout the entire weekend.


Mastering the Conditions with the Windy App:

With the unpredictable weather conditions, careful planning was essential for a safe and enjoyable trip. The Windy app has emerged as my go-to tool for assessing the weather, ensuring that we were well-informed and prepared for the journey. The forecast indicated less-than-average conditions for the Cook Strait crossing, but we were pleased to find a narrow window of opportunity around midday and we also made a strategic decision to alter our intentions of heading to Durville Island due to the poor forecast. Opting for a safer route, we headed towards Cape Koamaru and entered Queen Charlotte Sound.

A Crossing in Favorable Conditions:

The decision to synchronize our crossing with the tide, current, 1-meter swell, and 20 knots of wind all moving in the same direction proved to be a game-changer. The result was a surprisingly calm journey, with the boat gliding smoothly across the waters at 24 knots and using 2.3 litres per nautical mile The pleasant conditions made the crossing enjoyable for both seasoned sailors and those new to the experience.

Weekend Bliss in Marlborough Sounds:

Arriving in the Marlborough Sounds, the beauty of the landscape unfolded before us, making the entire journey worthwhile. The picturesque surroundings, coupled with the camaraderie of the crew, created an unforgettable experience.

Despite the ban on blue cod fishing in the Challenger area, at this time of year, which includes all of the Sounds we towed lures with the hopes of hooking a kingfish or kahawai. Unfortunately, the sea remained elusive in that regard. Instead, we found ourselves engaged in an unexpected battle with barracuda, which resulted in the loss of some of my favourite lures.

Undeterred by the lack of success, we decided to moor overnight at Burneys Beach on the Mana Club mooring. The evening was spent swapping stories and enjoying the tranquil surroundings, creating a sense of camaraderie among the crew, and of course over some excellent food and beverages.

Friday dawned with a gusty wind of 30 knots from the south, exactly as forecasted. Undeterred by the challenging conditions, we spent the day cruising around the breath-taking Marlborough Sounds. The picturesque landscapes and the diverse marine life provided a memorable backdrop to our journey.

Anticipating Saturday's promising weather, we strategically moored close to the entrance behind Cooper Point. As dawn broke on Saturday, we set out for an early start, making our way to the Brothers. The fishing was exceptional, and it didn't take long before we reeled in some impressive cod. Eager for more, we proceeded to Fisherman's Rock in hopes of a drift for puka or a blue nose, but despite our efforts, success eluded us.








With the day drawing to a close, we made our way back towards Mana to avoid the adverse weather forecasted for later in the day. Saturday night was spent moored up at the Mana Marina, where we celebrated our day's exploits with a delicious feast, featuring the fresh catch of the day.

As we reflected on the weekend's adventures, it became clear that flexibility, adaptability, and a positive attitude were key to turning potential challenges into opportunities for unexpected joys. The Marlborough Sounds had not only tested our seamanship but had also rewarded us with stunning scenery, excellent fishing, and the camaraderie that comes from shared experiences on the open water. The first trip from Mana Boat Club to the Marlborough Sounds had truly become an unforgettable chapter in our seafaring journey.