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


Embark on a complete circumnavigation of New Zealand, with 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
London to Hong Kong

Fly by scheduled flight.

Day 2
Hong Kong

Arrive this afternoon and transfer to a central hotel for an overnight night stay. Remainder of day and evening is at leisure to acclimatize and enjoy the hotel facilities.

Day 3
Hong Kong

Enjoy a relaxing morning before meeting in the early afternoon for a tour of Hong Kong including Victoria Peak and Stanley Market. After the tour, continue to the airport for your scheduled overnight flight to Auckland.

Day 4
Auckland, New Zealand

Arrive and transfer to the Crowne Plaza Hotel (or similar) for an overnight stay. The remainder of the day is free for individual exploration. Enjoy a welcome dinner tonight at the hotel.

Day 5

A morning tour will include the city’s highlights including the Domain and the excellent Auckland Museum, overlooking Waitemata Harbour and housing the world’s largest collection of Polynesian artefacts. Enjoy lunch in a local restaurant before being transferred to the Caledonian Sky.

Day 6
Bay of Islands

Discovered by Captain Cook in 1769, this area is the cradle of European civilisation in New Zealand and has important historical significance for both Maori and Europeans. On a morning tour you will visit the Waitangi Treaty house where in 1840 the treaty was signed between the Maori and the British crown. Continue to Kerikeri where the Maori first welcomed missionaries in 1819 and see the oldest buildings of New Zealand dating from the 1820s. During the afternoon enjoy some free time to explore the charming historic town of Russell.

Day 7
At sea

Spend the day cruising off this remote area of New Zealand.

Day 8
New Plymouth

Today you can explore the western port of New Plymouth. You have the whole day in this pretty city sandwiched between the sea and Mount Taranaki. A tour will visit the highlights of the town including the spectacular Te Rewa Rewa Bridge and Pukekura Park, one of the premier botanical gardens in New Zealand. You will have a chance to explore the diverse landscape of formal gardens, bushwalks and lakes. Alternatively drive to Mount Egmont and join one of the walking trails ranging in difficulty for all levels of fitness. You will be joined by our naturalists who will keep you informed on the flora seen en-route. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure to explore further or enjoy a longer hike at Mount Egmont.

Day 9
Ship Cove

Sail through the Marlborough Sounds which divide the North and South Islands of New Zealand and arrive in the early morning at Resolution Bay on South Island where keen walkers can enjoy a longer hike over to Ship Cove along the Queen Charlotte Track enjoying fantastic views over the archipelago of islands. Alternatively alight a little later at Ship Cove where Captain James Cook spent much of his time in New Zealand. During the afternoon, the ship will cruise around to Tasman Bay and will moor overnight in Nelson.

Day 10

There will be a choice of excursions today. Either choose to disembark after breakfast to visit Abel Tasman, New Zealand’s smallest national park, protecting over 56,000 acres of the most easily accessible coastline in the country. This marine reserve offers some marvellously scenic coastal walks and cruises with excellent wildlife opportunities including seal colonies and numerous aquatic birds including penguins. The tour will end in Golden Bay where you will re-embark the ship which will have sailed during the day. Alternatively enjoy a morning exploring Nelson which has for many years attracted resident artists. There are more than 350 working artists and craftspeople living in Nelson and their work is often inspired by the region’s exceptionally beautiful geography – coastal, forest and valley landscapes. Join an excursion of the area’s highlights which includes the World of Wearable Art Museum with its acclaimed visual exhibits and also the Classic Car collection. We sail at lunch time and arrive later in the afternoon to a remote harbour in Golden Bay. Golden Bay is well off the usual cruise ship route nestled into the South Island’s north-west corner with golden beaches, alpine valleys, and tranquil fishing rivers.

Day 11
Christmas Day at sea

Spend a relaxing Christmas Day afloat. As you cruise along the west coast of the South Island you will hopefully be treated to views of Mount Cook on land while this region is also a popular spot for dolphin sightings. Meanwhile the Chef and Galley team will prepare a delicious Christmas meal.

Days 12-14

You will 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. The schedule may include Resolution Bay, Dusky Sound, Deep Cove, and Milford Sound, but the final itinerary decisions will be made by the Captain and Expedition Leader based on weather conditions.

Zodiacs will be used daily either to shuttle from the ship to a landing site or as your transport to explore the fjords beyond the ship’s anchorage position.

Day 15
Ulva and Stewart Islands

New Zealand’s third island is well off the usual beaten tourist track. It is a wonderfully tranquil place, the scenery of untouched bushland is stunning. You will enjoy a morning on the small Ulva Island where Zodiacs will take you ashore for a choice of walks with our local guides. You will explore the dense vegetation and keep an eye out for the amazing birdlife. This afternoon, land at Oban on Stewart Island and have the chance to wander among the shops and see the museum or join a drive along some of the 15 miles of sealed road to some of the beauty spots including Observation Rock with views over Iona and Ulva Island and the beaches lining the East coast.

Day 16

Arrive this morning in Dunedin and enjoy a guided tour including the gracious 19th century buildings and the beautiful botanical gardens, the oldest in New Zealand containing over 6,800 plant species. Alternatively choose to drive to the Otago Peninsula to visit Penguin Place where you learn about the breeding and conservation programme of the rare yellow eyed penguins as well as the Royal Albatross Centre at Taiaroa Head. This afternoon is free for independent exploration or maybe choose to join the optional excursion on the Taieri Gorge Railway through the rugged and spectacular scenery of inland Otago.

Day 17

Akaroa meaning, ‘Long Harbour’, in Maori, was founded by French whaling Captain Jean Langlois on his ship Cachelot in 1838. He returned in 1840 with 60 settlers on the Comte de Paris to create a French colony. Spend a full day in Akaroa and there will be a choice of excursions including a dolphin watching trip using local boats to explore the scenic coastline and search for the rare Hectors dolphin or a guided historic walk in Akaroa and through the native bush of the Garden of Tane. You can also have a chance to visit a working farm in the countryside outside the town. Hear about the history of the farm, have demonstrations of sheep shearing and see the working dogs in action as well as enjoying tea in the farm grounds. Or if you prefer you can simply wander in the town and enjoy the local atmosphere. Ring in the New Year on board Caledonian Sky.

Day 18
Lyttelton for Christchurch

At breakfast, arrive in the port city of Lyttelton your base for your day in Christchurch. Choose either to spend time in this most English of cities where you can enjoy a morning overview of the city showing how it is recovering from the devastating earthquake of February 2011. View the Southern Alps from the Port Hills, ride a restored tram and tour the Canterbury Museum with its acclaimed Antarctic collection. Perhaps enjoy morning tea at a private home and garden. The afternoon is free for independent exploration. Alternatively, join an optional full day tour on the Tranz Alpine Express Train to Arthur’s Pass in the heart of the Southern Alps, one of the world’s most famous train journeys. Wonderful views are revealed from the train’s huge windows as you pass snow-capped mountains and mountain beech forests. On the return journey by coach, enjoy lunch at a farm before returning to the ship in the late afternoon.

Day 19

Today you are in Kaikoura, 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. After breakfast, there will be opportunities to join a whale watching cruise looking out for sperm whales, pods of dusky dolphins and common seals. Spend the afternoon exploring the town independently, join one of the nature walks or maybe take a trip on one of the bird watching cruises. There is an abundance of birdlife in the area including great albatross, banded albatross, shearwater, petrels, prions, and shag.

Day 20

Enjoy a full day in the nation’s capital. From the ship's central berth you will explore Wellington on a morning guided walk seeing St. Paul’s Cathedral, the parliament buildings, stroll through the Botanical Gardens and spend time in the excellent Te Papa National Museum of New Zealand. Return to the vessel for lunch and enjoy a free afternoon to explore the city at your own pace.

Day 21

After a morning at sea, arrive in Napier and join a tour of this beautiful city including a short walking tour of its charming Art Deco buildings as well as a visit to a local vineyard to sample the local wines. Alternatively drive to the gannetry at Cape Kidnappers where you can get amazingly close to the birds.

Day 22
White Island

Arrive later in the afternoon at White Island. Weather permitting there will be an excursion to explore the active volcano on White Island, identifiable by the plume of steam continually spouting from its crater. The sights are surreal: the main crater with towering walls, steaming vents, and hissing fumaroles, glittering yellow sulphur crystals, bubbling mud pots, and a spectacular steaming lake. This call is well off the usual cruise routes and you will use the Zodiacs to reach the island and then take a guided walk to the crater.

Day 23
Tauranga for Rotorua

From the ship's berth in Tauranga you will drive to the famous thermal springs at Rotorua. Visit Wai-O-Tapu, which means Sacred Waters in Maori, an active geothermal area with colorful hot springs, steaming ground and boiling mud pools. Marvel at the incredible palette of vibrant hues displayed in the pools, lakes, and craters, and enjoy the melodic sounds of birds singing in the native forest. From here, visit a local Maori Marae where you will enjoy a traditional Maori welcome and lunch before returning to the ship in the late afternoon.

Day 24
Auckland / Depart

Disembark this morning and transfer to the airport for your scheduled in-direct flight to London.  Arrive London on Day 25.



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


Length: 24 days
Cost From: £12,795  
Arrive: London, England
Depart: London, England
Lodging: 2 nights hotel, 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 (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Small Ship Cruising, Walking, Cultural Adventures, Wildlife & Natural History
Trip Level:

19-day cruise, cultural explorations and walking tours
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