In the cruise industry, New Zealand and Australia are usually referred to as a single cruise destination. However, don’t make the mistake of thinking that these countries are similar. While the two are geographically separated only by a stretch of the Tasman Sea, they are incredibly different. Australia’s generally flatter terrain contrasts with New Zealand’s towering mountains and steep fjords. Australia has hundreds of animal species that exist nowhere else in the world, while New Zealand has rare geysers. And, the population of the city of Sydney, Australia, outnumbers the entire population of New Zealand.
New Zealand is formed of two islands, North Island and South Island, and most cruise itineraries include port calls on each. On North Island, Auckland is a common starting or ending port for cruises. This city has a spectacular waterfront where you can catch a ferry to Waiheke Island, known for its growing winemaking industry. For an expansive view of Auckland, visit the 1,028-foot-high Sky Tower, or hike to the top of one of the dozens of volcanic hills scattered around the city. Auckland is also the starting point for side trips to the country’s thermal features.
Wellington, New Zealand’s capital, is at the southern tip of North Island. A stroll along the lovely waterfront reveals some surprises, including large-scale sculptures. Te Papa, the national museum of New Zealand, offers a fascinating look at the country’s culture. Take the Wellington Cable Car up to the hills that overlook the city, or take a shore excursion over the Rimutaka Range to the Wairarapa wine region.
On the South Island, Dunedin is like a bit of Scotland relocated to the South Pacific. If you explore the streets that branch out from the Octagon, the city’s central square, you’ll find restaurants, cafes, and shops where you can purchase local artworks or an authentic Scottish kilt. Shore excursions are available that will take you to view colonies of penguins, albatrosses and sea lions.
Christchurch is the largest city on South Island, and its architecture, lush gardens and red phone booths give it a decidedly English flair. This is another city that’s easy to explore on foot, with many art galleries, artisan workshops and museums.
As a southern hemisphere destination, New Zealand is a fabulous winter or early spring cruise getaway for North Americans. Talk with your personal cruise expert about all of your options for cruising New Zealand.