Ocean cruises concentrating on New Zealand undertake complete or partial loops around both the North and South Islands, then typically make the Trans-Tasman passage to Sydney. Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city near the top end of the North Island, offers lively inner-city neighborhoods, good museums, a busy waterfront where ferries serve nearby islands for their beaches, farms and vineyards. Sailing down the East Coast, typical calls are Napier, rebuilt after a 1931 earthquake into an Art Deco treasure of a city, and Wellington, the capital with its beautiful harbor setting, Te Papa Maori Museum, Victorian neighborhoods, and great walks on a ridge above the city. Sail south along the South Island coast for Christchurch, still recovering from its devastating 2011 earthquake and aftershocks, and Dunedin, a stone city settled by Scottish Presbyterians, with nearby coastal cliff sanctuaries for fur seals, sea lions, northern royal albatross, blue penguins and yellow-eyed penguins. Pass around the South Island’s southern cape to the spectacular fjord settings of Milford, Doubtful and Dusky sounds with lush vegetation, sea and bird life. Some ships sail south to Hobart, Tasmania’s capital, with a lively waterfront scene, and nearby penal colony at Port Arthur.
North & South Islands
The country is largely two islands stretching some 1,000 north-south miles, and besides the major cities including Auckland, there are many attractive small ship cruise destinations such as the Bay of Islands, mountains, national parks, wine country, inland lakes, fjords and birdlife.
The capital lies in a beautiful harbor setting surrounded by hills where there are wonderful walks with terrific views, renowned botanical garden, and a wonderful museum devoted to the indigenous Maori culture.
Some people compare Milford Sound and nearby Dusky and Doubtful sounds to Norway’s fjords. Okay, but the vegetation, sea and birdlife are vastly different and equally appealing. In addition to oceangoing cruises, local small-ship operators arrange cruise and land itineraries.