This year’s second Real Journeys Cruise-for-a-Cause, held in Milford Sound, has raised almost $27,000 to help the Wildlife Hospital in Dunedin fund a much-needed veterinary internship.
Wildlife Hospital Chair Steve Walker says the hospital is the only dedicated specialist facility of its kind in the South Island, triaging and (all going well) returning some of New Zealand’s most critically endangered species back to the wild.
“We really are making the difference in the survival of some of our most treasured species. We’re very grateful to Real Journeys for choosing us as this fundraiser has made a tremendous difference and will allow us to continue to employ our intern, who is fundamentally important to the operation of the hospital.”
During the evening, Wildlife Hospital supporters pledged to donate more money if Walker would take a leap off Real Journeys’ Milford Mariner vessel.
Walker says, “I very stupidly decided to leap off the boat at 7am – it’s very chilly water and this certainly woke me up! It was enjoyable though and it’s a great location to leap in the water as this is literally one of the most beautiful places on the planet. I can’t wait to come back.”
The evening also included a presentation from Wildlife Hospital founder Dr Lisa Argilla, one of New Zealand’s best-known wildlife veterinarians, who had earlier enjoyed spotting a species she had only ever seen in hospital.
“I saw a Fiordland crested penguin (tawaki) and that’s amazing because I’ve seen so many of them sick or injured, but I have never actually seen one of these birds in the wild, so that was really special. This is the reason why we’re doing it – to get these birds back into the habitat out here.”
Dr Argilla adds, “It’s awesome that Real Journeys picked the Wildlife Hospital this year and it’s just incredible what they’re giving back to conservation organisations.”
In August, the Doubtful Sound Cruise-for-a-Cause raised $53,200 for Baskets of Blessing, and over the last four years, Cruise-for-a-Cause has raised more than $230,000 for nine non-profit groups.
The Cruise-for-a-Cause is held every year at the start of the overnight cruise season on the Fiordland Navigator in Doubtful Sound and Milford Mariner in Milford Sound.
Real Journeys dedicates its first overnight cruise of the season as a fundraiser and invites applications from charitable or not-for-profit organisations. The vessels, crew, three-course dinner, breakfast and water activities are all provided by Real Journeys at no cost. The organisation sells the tickets and keeps 100% of the proceeds.