Circumnavigation of New Zealand

New Zealand’s North and South Islands aboard the Caledonian Sky

Circumnavigation of New Zealand route-map

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $15,650  
Length: 20 days
Arrive: Auckland, New Zealand
Depart: Auckland, New Zealand
Lodging: 19 nights aboard a 114-passenger expedition vessel
Meals: All meals included aboard ship and with the group ashore, including house wine, beer or soft drinks with lunch and dinner onboard
Activity: Small Ship Cruising, Walking, Cultural Adventures, Wildlife & Natural History
Trip Level: 19-day cruise, cultural explorations and walking tours


  • Explore Stewart Island, a haven for birdlife and well off the usual tourist route
  • Visit isolated Jackson Bay, where there are more seals and penguins than people
  • See some of the most splendid gardens in the Southern Hemisphere, visit world-famous vineyards
  • Christchurch, Wellington, Dunedin, and Napier, with its Art Deco architecture

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.


We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

Join us for a complete circumnavigation of New Zealand, a rare chance to delve deep into its rare natural beauty and breathtaking contrasts, from steep-sided glacial fjords, geysers and boiling mud pots, and coastal rainforests to snow-capped mountains, rolling green pasture lands, and enchanting bays and coves.

Note: This cruise is not exclusive to, nor operated by, Wilderness Travel, who acts solely as agent in booking your reservation with the ship operator. The itinerary, lecturers, and all other arrangements are subject to change at the discretion of the cruise line.


Day 1

Arrive in Auckland and embark on the Caledonian Sky.

Day 2

We drive to the famous thermal springs Wai-O-Tapu at Rotorua to see the geysers and pools of bubbling mud. We also visit a local Maori Marae where we will enjoy a traditional Maori welcome and lunch.

Day 3
White Island

With our Zodiacs, we land at White Island to explore its active volcano, identifiable by the plume of steam continually spouting from its crater. We will use the Zodiacs to reach the island and then spend approximately three hours on a guided walk to the crater. Afternoon cruising.

Day 4

We arrive in Napier and join a tour of the town that will include its charming Art Deco buildings. Totally rebuilt after the 1931 Hawkes Bay earthquake, it has enormous style. Nowhere else can you see such a variety of buildings in the styles of the 1930s—Stripped Classical, Spanish Mission, and above all, Art Deco, the style of the 20th century. Napier’s Art Deco is unique, with Maori motifs and the buildings of Louis Hay, admirer of the great Frank Lloyd Wright. We walk along Marine Parade, see the Botanical Gardens, and take in the view from Bluff Hill Lookout before visiting a local vineyard to sample the local wines. The afternoon is free for independent exploration of the town, or to join the optional excursion to the gannetry at Cape Kidnappers where we can get amazingly close to the birds. The 13-hectare reserve includes the saddle and black reef gannet colonies.

Day 5

After a relaxing morning at sea, we have the afternoon in the nation’s capital. Our excursion includes the Parliament buildings, Old St. Paul’s Cathedral, a lovely all-wood structure erected in 1866, and the superb Botanic Gardens.

Day 6
Ship Cove / Marlborough Sounds / Picton

We look out for playful dolphins and a variety of seabirds as we cruise in Ship Cove, where Captain James Cook spent much of his time in New Zealand. In Picton we tour the famous Marlborough wine producing region, where we see some of the 3,000 hectares of vineyards and taste some of the Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon for which the area is justly famous.

Day 7

Kaikoura is a famous whale watching area due to its nutrient-rich waters. The combination of very deep waters and the mixing of cold and warm waters brings the nutrients to the top. We have opportunities to join a whale watching cruise searching for sperm whales, pods of dusky dolphins, common seals, and the wandering albatross. In the afternoon we can explore the town on our own, join one of the nature walks, or take an optional trip on one of the birdwatching cruises. There is an abundance of birdlife in the area including great albatross, shearwater, petrels, prions, and shag.

Day 8

We enjoy a morning city tour of this most British of cities, which includes an overview of the city and to see how it has recovered from the devastating earthquake. We view the Southern Alps from the Port Hills and tour the International Antarctic Centre. Alternatively, join an optional full day tour on the Tranz Alpine Express Train to Arthur's Pass in the heart of the Southern Alps.

Day 9

After a morning of cruising, we arrive in Dunedin and explore its gracious 19th century buildings including the magnificent railway station and the beautiful botanical gardens, the oldest in New Zealand and containing over 6,800 plant species.

Day 10
Stewart Island

New Zealand’s third island, well off the usual tourist track, is a wonderfully tranquil place with a stunning scenery of untouched bushland. We visit Oban, see the fascinating Rakiura Museum, and drive along some of the 15 miles of sealed road to some of the beauty spots. We also hope to use our Zodiacs around Half Moon Bay and the Paterson Inlet. The birdlife here is amazing, with red crowned parakeets, black oyster catchers, sooty shearwaters, tuis, bellbirds, kakas, and fearless wekas.

Days 11-13

We have three days to explore the incredible wilderness of fjords in the southwest corner of South Island. This is an area of majestic scenery, rich in wildlife, which is only accessible by sea, making it the most remote region of New Zealand. Our schedule may include Resolution Bay, Dusky Sound, Deep Cove, and Milford Sound, but our final itinerary decisions will be made by the Captain and Expedition Leader based on weather conditions.

Day 14
Jackson Bay

The Haast is a diverse region offering a wide variety of scenery and chances to view wildlife. We enjoy a river safari on a jet-powered river craft along the Waitoto River, with the chance to visit a local crayfish plant and meet the fishermen. We continue by coach to the inter-tidal zone where local guides will explain the ecology of the estuary and the rich birdlife including a large kiwi reserve. This afternoon we continuing cruising the West Coast and will hopefully be treated to views of Mount Cook on land, while this region is also a popular spot for dolphin sightings.

Day 15
Golden Bay

We enjoy a relaxing morning at sea as we continue sailing north. We arrive into the small harbor of Tarakohe in Golden Bay in the late afternoon and hope to have time to use our Zodiacs to land at the small town to stretch our legs. Golden Bay is nestled into the South Island’s northwest corner and is New Zealand’s most diverse and appealing holiday destination, with golden beaches, alpine valleys, and tranquil fishing rivers. We moor overnight in the secluded bay.

Day 16
Abel Tasman National Park / Nelson

Our choice of options includes a visit to Abel Tasman, New Zealand’s smallest national park, protecting over 23,000 hectares of the most easily accessible coastline in the country. This marine reserve offers some marvelously scenic coastal walks and excellent wildlife opportunities including seal colonies and numerous aquatic birds (including penguins!). Our tour ends in Nelson where we reboard the ship. Alternatively, enjoy a morning at sea sailing to Nelson and arriving at lunchtime. Nelson has for many years attracted resident artists. There are more than 350 working artists and craftspeople living in Nelson, including traditional and contemporary Maori artists. Their work is often inspired by the region’s exceptionally beautiful geography of coastal, forest, and valley landscapes. We can join an excursion of the area’s highlights, which includes popular Tahunanui Beach.

Day 17
New Plymouth

We spend the day in this pretty city sandwiched between the sea and Mt. Taranaki. Our morning tour visits Pukekura Park, one of the premier botanical gardens in New Zealand. We will have a chance to explore the diverse landscape of formal gardens, bushwalks, and lakes, as well as the fernery and display houses.

Day 18

Our cruise brings us to a remote area of New Zealand. Conditions permitting, we use our Zodiacs to land on a remote beach accessible only by sea. The final decision will be made by the Expedition Leader on board.

Day 19
Bay of Islands

We arrive in the finest maritime park in New Zealand, with its 144 islands, secluded bays, and an abundance of marine life. Discovered by Captain Cook in 1769, it is the cradle of European civilization in New Zealand and has important historical significance for both Maori and Europeans. We can either visit the Waitangi Treaty house where in 1840 the treaty was signed between the Maori and the British Crown, or join a tour to the Puketi Kauri Forest, an ancient native forest of 15,000 hectares.

Day 20
Auckland / Depart

We disembark in Auckland this morning and transfer to the airport for homeward-bound flights.

2016 Cruise Collection

We’ve searched the world to find the finest small ships and most active adventures, from Greenland to New Zealand to the great rivers of Europe.

Download our online digital brochure to view on your computer or mobile device, or as a PDF! Or request a printed copy to be sent by mail, or by calling 800-368-2794.

What the Trip is Like

The trip is rated Level 1, Easiest, and is appropriate for anyone in good health who is physically active. Zodiac landing crafts are used to explore the coastline and transport passengers ashore for walks to wildlife sanctuaries, scenic nature areas, and local towns and villages. On some days we will visit remote destinations only accessible by Zodiacs.

Explanation of Trip Levels



Future dates have not been set for this itinerary. Please contact us if you would like to be notified of trip dates once they are available.

Trip Cost

Prices are for 2016

Cruise Rates by Cabin Category
Per person, double occupancy

CategoriesCruise Price
Standard Suite Forward $15,650
Standard Suite $16,155
Superior Suite $17,125
Premium Suite $17,945
Deluxe Balcony Suite $18,600
Premium Balcony Suite $19,745
Corner Suite $21,385
Single Occupancy Surcharge: 40%

Trip Payment Schedule*

At time of reservation: 10% of trip cost
100 days prior to departure: Balance

*Please note that this differs from our regular catalog departures.

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule

Up to 91 days prior to departure: No charge!
61-90 days prior to departure: 25% of trip cost
46-60 days prior to departure: 50% of trip cost
45 days or less: 100% of trip cost

Deck Plan


Cabin Descriptions

  • Standard Suites (Forward) on Castle Deck with two or three portholes, en suite bathroom with shower. 244 sq. ft. Suites 250, 252.
  • Standard Suites on Castle Deck with two, three, or four portholes, en suite bathroom with shower. 244 sq. ft. Suites 254-262.
  • Superior Suites on Caledonian Deck with large window, en suite bathroom with bathtub and shower (except for suites 329-331 that feature only a shower). 233 sq. ft. Suites 329-348.
  • Premium Suites on Promenade Deck with one or two windows, en suite bathroom with shower (suites 431 and 432 feature a bathtub and shower). 217 sq. ft. Suites 431-434.
  • Deluxe Balcony Suites on Bridge Deck with walk-in wardrobe, en suite bathroom with bathtub and shower, and a private balcony measuring 45 sq. ft. 215 sq. ft. Suites 505-512.
  • Premium Balcony Suites on Promenade Deck with walk-in wardrobe, en suite bathroom with shower, and a private balcony measuring 60 sq. ft. (suites 418-419 have a normal glass door rather than sliding door to the balcony). 217 sq. ft. Suites 416-428.
  • Owner’s Corner Suites on Promenade Deck with walk-in wardrobe, en suite bathroom with shower, two forward-facing portholes, and a private balcony measuring 60 sq. ft. 243 sq. ft. Suites 414-415.


Trip Cost Includes:

  • 19-night cruise aboard the Caledonian Sky
  • All meals included aboard ship and with the group ashore, including house wine, beer or soft drinks with lunch and dinner onboard
  • Shore excursions
  • Use of quietvox earphones during excursions
  • Gratuities to crew and while on excursions
  • Guest speakers
  • Port taxes

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

All air transportation; excess baggage charges; airport arrival and departure taxes; transfers for independent arrivals and departures; passport and/or visa fees; items of a personal nature such as laundry, e-mail/Internet/fax/telephone charges.

Arrival & Departure Information

You are responsible for your own transportation to the arrival and from the departure cities listed below. For more detailed information, including transfers, please call our office at 1-800-368-2794.

Please do not purchase your tickets until you are confirmed on the trip. Once your tickets have been purchased, please send us a copy of your airline schedule.

2016 Departures

Arrival & Meeting Place
Aboard the Caledonian Sky, Auckland, New Zealand

Suggested flight arrival time: Morning of January 8, 2016
Embarkation: must be on board by 4:00pm
Ship departure: 6:00pm

Arrival Airport
Auckland, New Zealand

We recommend that you spend at least one additional night in Auckland before the cruise begins, to allow for any unforeseen flight delays.  We can help you book your hotel and airport/hotel or airport/ship transfers. Please call our office for more information.

Auckland, New Zealand

Date: January 27, 2016
Disembarkation: 9:00am
Suggested flight departure time: After 12:00pm

Departure Airport 
Auckland, New Zealand

The ship is expected to arrive port at 8:00am and disembarkation will begin at 9:00am.  Please do not book return flights until after 12:00pm at the earliest.

Expedition Details


A valid passport is required for this trip. Be sure to check the expiration date. Your passport must be valid for six months after the conclusion of your trip. It is a good idea to carry photocopies of your passport photo page in case your passport is lost or as an additional piece of identification, as well as two extra passport photos.


No visa is required for US Citizens traveling to New Zealand.


We recommend checking the Center for Disease Control at should you have any international health concerns.


No inoculations are currently required for entry into New Zealand.

Caledonian Sky

Built in 1991 as a private yacht, the Caledonian Sky has been completely refurbished to become an elegant expedition vessel. Each of the 57 spacious suites offers ocean views, sitting area (some with a private balcony), well-appointed bathrooms, flat-screen TV, telephone, personal safe, hairdryer, and mini-fridge. The ship also has a dining room, two bars, library, lounge with panoramic floor-to-ceiling windows, a medical clinic and doctor, small gym and salon, ample outdoor decks, and an elevator that serves all decks. The vessel carries the latest safety, navigation, and communications equipment, along with roll stabilizers to minimize the ship’s motion. The captain’s open-bridge policy allows passengers onto the bridge at most times. A fleet of Zodiacs allows landings at remote locations.