New Zealand remains one of Australia’s top cruising destinations, beckoning cruisers with its stunning natural sights, rich culture and food. In the upcoming summer cruise season, lines have new, exclusive and classic shore excursion favourites lined up. We highlight 12 of the best.
Princess Cruises has expanded their ‘Across the Ditch’ Program with two industry-first overland excursions in New Zealand’s North Island and over twenty exclusive shore tours.
All lines also offer plenty of options to explore the natural landscapes of New Zealand, from hiking through Kauri Forests with Princess Cruises, taking a train ride through the Southern Alps with Oceania Cruises, swim with the world’s smallest and rarest dolphins with Norwegian Cruise Lines or just relaxing in the Manupirua Hot Springs with Royal Caribbean.
Guests of Seabourn can even explore the Fiordland National Park on a zodiac with expedition experts!
Celebrity Cruises is also courting adventure-seeking guests with a new picturesque hike to the Putangirua Pinnacles in Wellington. Both lines are also going to roll out Adventure Park Zip Lining in Lyttelton in the 2020/21 season.
Classic favourites such as visits to Akaroa’s heritage sites and cruising the Bay of Islands are still in the program. Wine lovers will also be delighted with a Hawkes Bay Wine Trail with Oceania Cruises and guests can also taste Speight Brewery’s 19th-century beer with Regent Seven Seas.
See what the lines are offering.
Great Barrier Island
This includes visiting the Great Barrier Island, one of the few Dark Sky Sanctuaries in the world whose night sky is one of the cleanest and brightest on the planet. The island is a short flight away from New Zealand, solely run on solar power and only has a small local population.
Papatûânuku Earth Mother Tours
This tour offered by Princess Cruises in the Bay of Islands is an Mâori cultural guided tour through a native kauri forest. This exclusive tour was created by owner and passionate conservationist Stella Kake-Schmid, a local Mâori wahine’ (woman). She will share with you her knowledge of this beautiful area, the stories and legends handed down to her by her ancestors. She will show you how, her and her community are working hard to save and protect the Forest and wildlife of their hometown.
Norwegian Cruise Lines
Swim with Dolphins in Akaroa
The sheltered Akaroa Harbour is the only place on the planet where you can swim with hector’s dolphins – the world’s smallest, rarest and friendliest. The harbour also boasts stunning coastal scenery and is home to many marine species. You’ll have to take a two-hour trip on a jet-powered boat to swim with the hector’s dolphins in the open sea. The crew will brief guests on how to best interact with the dolphins and guide those who are new to snorkelling and wearing a wetsuit.
Glow worm cave and Puketi Kauri Forest
On this tour, discover the glow worms among the limestone structures of the Kawiti Caves, New Zealand’s only town with a railroad track running down the main street, Kawakawa, and the Puketi Forest. The kauri forest once covered most of the Bay of Islands and guests can get an up-close look at these towering trees on the boardwalk trail. Conclude with a photo stop at New Zealand’s oldest building, the Kemp House.
Lake Rotoiti Hot Springs & Sailing Encounter
This is an exclusive excursion where guests will be able to explore Lake Rotoiti Hot Springs, which is an hour away from Tauranga. Once at the Lake, guests will board their privately chartered Catamaran to cruise across the lake while enjoying snacks and refreshments.
On the other side of the lake guests can find the natural, geothermally heated Manupirua Hot Springs, a natural marvel only accessible by boat. Guests can pamper themselves with a hot soak in the pools before returning across the lake on the catamaran. This excursion is also offered with Celebrity Cruises.
Hike the Putangirua Pinnacles, Wellington
Celebrity Cruises is debuting this new excursion for adventure seeking guests. The two to three hour picturesque walk explores the Putangirua Pinnacles, a 90-minute drive from Wellington. The pinnacles are formed with seven-nine million years of erosion and also featured in the Lord of the Rings films.
Southern Alps Experience
View the New Zealand countryside aboard a chartered Southern Alps Explorer, a train ride that is voted one of the world’s top rail journeys. Marvel at the highest pass in the mountain range upon reaching the Southern Alps, the Arthur’s Pass, as well as the panoramic views of the heart of the South Island, vast Canterbury Plains and more. After, begin your descent past lakes and ski fields and even conclude with traditional tea if time permits.
Hawkes Bay Wine Trail
Travel through the countryside by coach to Gimblett Gravels, a famous wine production area due to special soils and unique climatic conditions. The Gimblett Gravels district represents 32 wineries and wine growers. You’ll get to visit vineyards like Mission which was started in 1838 by a group of French missionaries as well as three other local vineyards. Don’t forget to take in the historic seminary building at Mission as you sample some of the country’s most sought-after wines.
Kayaking in Waitangi Estuary
Your kayaking guide will take you across the Waitangi Bridge and begin your kayaking tour of the calm waters of the Waitangi Estuary which is lined with mangrove trees. Reach the highlight of the kayaking tour, the Haruru Falls, which is not especially high but rather wide and easily makes an impression after a recent rainfall. Stop for light refreshment at the picnic area before returning to the wharf.
Pride of the South Brewery & Otago Museum
Sample a selection of unique beers at the Speight’s Brewery and then delve into the history of the Otago region by browsing natural history exhibits in Dunedin’s museum on this tour. Speight Brewery has been in the same location since opening in 1876 and discover what this Dunedin icon has that allows it to produce beers with 19th-century flavours. After lunch, head to the Otago Museum to see the world’s largest collection of extinct moa skeletons and how the region has shaped the lives of the Maori and European immigrants.
Fiordland National Park by zodiac
Seabourn Cruises is offering guest and exclusive opportunity to tour the Fiordland National Park by zodiac along with experts in their expedition team, like scientists, scholars and naturalists. The experts can share their expertise knowledge and allow you to discover the Te Wahipounamu UNESCO World Heritage Site in a more engaging way. You’ll be viewing dramatic geological features alongside lush vegetation along the waterline of rocks covered with lounging New Zealand fur seals. As Seabourn is a partner of UNESCO, the tour will also include a small donation to UNESCO’s World Heritage Fund.
High Country 4WD and Jet Boat Adventure
Venture off the beaten track to visit the rugged hill country of the Southern Alps. Journey across the Canterbury Plains and Springfield to board a Hamilton jet boat at Waimakariri River Gorge. The jet boat adventure will take guests on a scenic ride deep into the heart of the Waimakariri Gorge, skimming over water at times only inches deep. Take breather with a buffet lunch at Rubicon Station before setting off on an off-road 4WD tour of Rubicon and Mt Torlesse Station and learn the history, geology and day-to-day farm of these areas.