A reported man overboard in Sutherland Sound has turned out to be a false alarm. Maritime NZ said a muster was carried out on the Queen Victoria cruise ship and all passengers and crew were accounted for.

"The ship has an electronic alarm system which indicated a person had fallen overboard," said Maritime NZ spokesman Vince Cholewa. "The system radar and thermal imaging did show an object going overboard but it was something like a piece of clothing but not a person."

The ship "did all the right things" and was now continuing its cruise to Dunedin, he said.

The Queen Victoria radioed in at 11.30am to Maritime NZ.

The ship was in Sutherland Sound in Fiordland about 2 nautical miles from Bell Pt.


Cholewa said the ship immediately began searching and a rescue co-ordinator immediately dispatched a chopper from Milford Helicopters.

"It's essentially an eye in the sky. It's not equipped with search and rescue equipment," Cholewa said.

Southern Lakes Helicopters in Te Anau has also sent a rescue chopper which is equipped with winches, rescue crew and a paramedic.

Martime historian Chris Frame previously said the Queen Victoria is "twice the size of the Titanic" and is 16 storeys tall.

He said the ship weighs 90,000 tonnes and is noticeably bigger than the Queen Elizabeth 2 she replaced.

The Queen Victoria can carry 3000 passengers and crew.