Milford Wanderer's $3M refit makes chef happy

If there’s one person who’s particularly pleased about the decision to accommodate almost half as many passengers on the Milford Wanderer, it’s the chef.

“I used to cook a three course meal and breakfast for over sixty passengers, now it’s only thirty-six and what’s more I’ll have a bigger galley to do it in.” says Kristen Johnston, the Wanderer’s chef.

Kristen had to walk the length of the vessel thirty or forty times a day just to pick up stores, that couldn’t fit in her galley.  “Sometimes I’d get to my dry store at the other end of the boat and forget what I’d come for!”

In the $3 million refit, the saloon’s being extended, which Kristen says will be a huge improvement.  “Again we’ll have a bigger dining room for less people.  Those who do a daytime cruise on the Wanderer will find it a very comfortable place to be if the weather’s bad too.” 

But the biggest difference for overnight passengers on the Wanderer will be the upgrade from quad- share bunk style accommodation to private twin or double cabins with shared bathrooms and a couple of family rooms.

“We’ve found passengers are quite happy to share bathrooms but they didn’t really want to sleep in a cabin with people they didn’t know, so I think this is going to be the biggest benefit for those coming on board,” says Kristen.

Kristen has worked in Milford Sound on the Wanderer for the last six years and says the nineteen year old vessel was ready for a good spruce up.   But it’s always been one of those boats people get really passionate about.  

“People love the fact that it has sails that have to be manually hoisted and it just has such a welcoming feel about it.”    And that’s one thing Kirsten says won’t change. 

“We have a great crew on board and we always have heaps of fun working together, and that’s what being on the Wanderer’s like, it’s always a great adventure."

About the Milford Wanderer

  • Purpose built motor vessel designed along the lines of a traditional New Zealand coastal trading scow.

  • Ketch rigged fore and aft sails, jib and flying jib.

  • Commenced service 1 October 1992.

  • Overnight capacity now 36 passengers, daytime capacity 90 passengers.

  • Overnight cruises run from November to April and include dinner, cooked breakfast and activities like wildlife viewing, kayaking and exploring in the vessel’s tender craft.

About Kristen Johnston

Kristen’s one of two chefs who work alternate weeks on the Milford Wanderer.   She’s been a chef for eleven years, working in restaurants on the West Coast of the South Island before heading to the deep south.

Kristen loves being the chef on the Wanderer because she always knows exactly how many people she’ll be cooking for, enjoys working with a great crew and the fact that she works one week on and one week off. 

When she’s not working on the Milford Wanderer she enjoys tramping, kayaking and skiing.

About Real Journeys

Real Journeys is a multi-award winning tourism company operating in Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound, Queenstown and Stewart Island. 

The locally owned and operated company has guided excursions into this region for more than fifty years.

In Milford Sound it operates daytime Nature Cruises and Overnight Cruises on the Milford Wanderer and the Milford Mariner.  

Luxury coach connections are available from Queenstown and Te Anau.  Flight connections from Queenstown are also available to link directly with the cruises.

For more information visit:

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