Real Journeys is a privately owned tourism business that was founded in 1954 by tourism and conservation pioneers Les and Olive Hutchins.
Based in some of the most untouched areas of New Zealand, Real Journeys has operations from Stewart Island to Queenstown – including cruises through Milford and Doubtful Sounds and the heritage steamship TSS Earnslaw.
Today the company remains true to its founders and their guiding principles of conservation and hospitality, making some significant contributions to conservation in Fiordland.
Cooper Island Restoration Project
Real Journeys has undertaken the removal of stoats and rats from Cooper Island (1,779 ha). Situated in remote Tamatea/Dusky Sound, the project is Real Journeys' most challenging environmental mission since founder Sir Les Hutchins led the Save Manapouri Campaign in the 1960s.
Real Journeys' vision is for some of New Zealand's most vulnerable native birds like kākāpō and kiwi to eventually be able to return to this, the third largest island in Tamatea/Dusky Sound. The initiative sees Real Journeys join the Department of Conservation's Tamatea/Dusky Sound Restoration Programme; sharing its vision to make Tamatea/Dusky Sound one of the most intact ecosystems in the world and a source, or biobank, for the regeneration of native species throughout the country. Real Journeys is proud to play a part to help make this ambitious vision a reality.
- Tamatea/Dusky Sound restoration project
- Cooper Island restoration project
- DOC and Real Journeys joint expedition to Dusky Sound
Blue duck/whio have been steadily declining in Fiordland over the last 30 years. Introduced stoats are a major cause in this decline as they prey on whio.
Since 2004 Real Journeys has been a major sponsor of a stoat control programme that has significantly increased the survival rate of whio in this area.
In January 2012, fourteen young whio were transferred to suitable sites in Fiordland with assistance from Real Journeys. This was part of a trial to help boost whio numbers in areas under sustained predator control.
In the 2015/16 season, the company continued its support of this successful translocation program with a $10,000 contribution. As part of that program, three rare native ducklings were caught by DOC rangers near the Milford Track and flown by helicopter from Fiordland National Park (where whio have been breeding successfully) to a valley close to the Routeburn Track.
Real Journeys also donates prizes to the Great Fiordland Whio Race, an annual local event in Te Anau, held to celebrate Whio Awareness Month.
August 2015, Real Journeys hosted a charity ball at Walter Peak, on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. Proceeds from ticket sales and auctions on the night returned more than $36,000 for kākāpō.
After a surprise discovery of rare native long-tailed bats roosting in the Kepler Mountains in 2010, Real Journeys has been supporting DOC to learn more about this elusive population.
Stoat traps in Milford Sound
Real Journeys' staff at Milford Sound have taken the initiative to maintain stoat traps in areas of the fiord where penguins are known to nest.
In Harrisons Cove, where the overnight boat moors throughout the summer months, the traps are checked weekly by the overnight crew. The rest of the traps are checked six-weekly using a boat supplied by Real Journeys.