Step on board the deluxe Oceanic Discoverer and set off on a voyage along the eastern flanks of New Zealand's North and South Islands. Discover volcanic landscapes on White Island, go whale-watching in Kaikoura, and explore wildlife sanctuaries on a variety of walks and hikes. Get to know the Maori people on a village visit; explore the vibrant cities of Auckland, Wellington, and Queenstown; and immerse yourself in the majesty of the South Island's fjordlands.
Sail into three phenomenal fjords: legendary Milford and Doubtful Sounds and the lesser known Dusky Sound.
Soar high above Queenstown on a gondola and take in views of the gorgeous mountain scenery.
Encounter a range of wildlife, including Hector's dolphins, fur seals, Little Blue penguins, and a broad spectrum of birds.
Go hiking on the marine volcano of White
Island, and discover its geothermal wonders.
Itinerary - 17 Days
Days 1, 2, & 3 — U.S./Queenstown, New Zealand
Depart for Queenstown, crossing the international date line, and arrive on Day 3. After checking into our hotel, take an afternoon walk through Queenstown. Cap off the day with a gondola ride, affording stunning views of the city, Lake Wakatipu, and the surrounding mountains. In the evening, we will gather for a welcome dinner.
Crowne Plaza (D) (D)
Day 4 — Te Anau/Milford Sound
Set out on an exceptional drive to Milford Sound, stopping along the way at Lake Te Anau. Embark the Oceanic Discoverer and explore spectacular Milford Sound, whose mirrorlike waters are embraced by soaring peaks. See the cascades of Stirling Falls and other natural wonders along the banks, keeping your eye out for dolphins, penguins, and fur seals. (B,L,D)
Days 5 & 6 — Doubtful and Dusky Sounds
Discover Dusky Sound, so named by Captain Cook when weak winds made him uncertain that his ship would be able to exit. Explore the shores of this exquisite fjord by boat or on a hike. Then continue south along the western coast to Dusky Sound, where Captain Cook spent five weeks recovering from his trip to Antarctica. (B,L,D daily)
Day 7 — Stewart Island
With a population of just 380, Stewart Island has the feel of a frontier outpost. Stroll through the sanctuary of Ulva Island, where outstanding birdlife includes the weka (a flightless rail), the kaka (a forest parrot), and the elusive brown kiwi. Later, explore Stewart Island by road, take a walk with our naturalists, or go on a more challenging hike. (B,L,D)
Day 8 — Dunedin
Lively Dunedin combines outstanding natural history with a rich cultural heritage. Our visit includes the ornate Edwardian railway station and the Octagon plaza. You may take an excursion to the Otago Peninsula and look for fur seals, Little Blue penguins, and royal albatross; or ride the
railway (subject to availability) along the splendid coastline, for wonderful views of the sea. (B,L,D)
Day 9 — Akaroa
Explore the village of Akaroa today, and cruise out into the bay on a local boat in search of Hector's dolphins, the world's smallest and rarest. Or you may choose to take a guided walk through the town and visit a working sheep farm. (B,L,D)
Day 10 — Kaikoura
The continental shelf drops off rapidly just off Kaikoura, creating ideal conditions for marine mammals. On our excursion by local boat, we may see sperm whales, dolphins, blue and humpback whales, and orcas. Visit a fur seal colony and hike along the cliff tops of the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway for spectacular views. Another possibility is swimming with dusky dolphins. Tonight, our ship makes its way to the North Island. (B,L,D)
Days 11 & 12 — Wellington/At Sea
Arrive in Wellington and visit the superb Te Papa Museum. Later, explore the city on your own or head to the Karori Sanctuary, where the elimination of predators has allowed native birds and plants to flourish. Then enjoy a relaxing day at sea. (B,L,D daily)
Day 13 — Napier
After the devastating earthquake of 1931 leveled Napier, the townspeople rebuilt it as a shining tribute to the architecture of the era. View the town's acclaimed art deco gems on a guided tour. Then stop at Cape Kidnappers for a close-up view of one of the world's largest gannet colonies. (B,L,D)
Day 14 — Gisborne
Visit the Eastwoodhill Arboretum in Gisborne, and continue to a Maori community where residents welcome us into their traditional meetinghouse to learn about their culture and local lore. (B,L,D)
Day 15 — White Island
Spend today on White Island, a marine volcano that is alive with geothermal activity. Clouds of steam billow out from vents, mud pots gurgle and boil, and a highly acidic crater lake bubbles green and blue. Later, explore the remains of the abandoned sulfur mining operations. (B,L,D)
Days 16 & 17 — Auckland/U.S.
Disembark in Auckland and head out on a morning tour, taking in a 360-degree view of the city and the surrounding seas from the Sky Tower. Then delve into Maori culture and the natural history of the region at the Auckland Museum. Toast your journey at a farewell dinner tonight. The following morning, explore the city on your own before transferring to the airport for your flight home.
Crowne Plaza (B,D; B)