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.
Arrive in Auckland and embark on the Caledonian Sky.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Auckland / Depart
We disembark in Auckland this morning and transfer to the airport for homeward-bound flights.