The island nations of Australia and New Zealand are often paired in people’s minds and on cruise itineraries – but in reality, New Zealand couldn’t be more different from its neighbor to the west. Rugged mountains and deep valleys, thermal features, Maori culture and pastures full of grazing sheep are all part of what makes it unique. Plus, New Zealand is long and narrow and most of the country is close to a coast, which makes it perfect to explore via cruise.
While New Zealand is a featured stop on some South Pacific cruises, world cruises and repositioning cruises, other cruises really focus on New Zealand. Some sail roundtrip from Auckland, or from home ports on the east coast of Australia.
So, where can you go and what can you see on a New Zealand-intensive cruise?
Auckland, New Zealand's largest city, has a harbor full of yachts and a maritime culture. There’s a great aquarium, museums, gardens and the Sky Tower. You can tour historic villages and black-sand beaches on Auckland’s west coast, or venture out of the city to see the Waitomo Caves (glowworms hang from the ceilings) and the geothermal features at Rotorua.
In Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city, ride the cable car to the top of Mount Victoria for fantastic views. Te Papa, New Zealand’s national museum, has excellent exhibits about Maori and European heritage. If you love the Lord of the Rings movies, this is the place to take a tour of the locations and studios. Or, take a leisurely wine tour of nearby vineyards.
Go up on deck as your ship approaches Akaroa: you’ll sail up a straight line with tall, craggy cliffs. Enjoy the atmosphere of this former French settlement, then take a kayak tour, swim with dolphins, or take an excursion to the city of Christchurch, which is rebuilding after devastating earthquakes in 2010 and 2011.
Dunedin was founded by members of the Free Church of Scotland and is known for ornate Victorian buildings constructed when the city was the center of an 1860s gold rush. Take a sweet tour of the local Cadbury’s Chocolate Factory, marvel at the world’s steepest street, or tour Larnach Castle.
Longer cruises may also call on the Bay of Islands, Napier and Picton, with some scenic cruising of the Fiordland of southern New Zealand. To find out more about cruises that focus on New Zealand, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.
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