7 of the best New Zealand cruises to book now - Cruise International

7 of the best New Zealand cruises to book now

By Claire Benktander | 29 Apr 2022

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Marlborough Sounds. Credit: Heritage Expeditions

With New Zealand’s borders back open again, we’ve picked out seven of the very best cruises to explore this spectacular country

The Land of the Long White Cloud’s hidden beaches, breath-taking fjords and remote island sanctuaries have been off-limits to tourists since the arrival of Covid-19. Now, fully-vaccinated travellers from visa waiver countries (which includes the UK) can travel to New Zealand without needing to isolate on arrival, on provision of a negative pre-departure test.

Travellers can expect several dazzling new experiences in the the region, including several new hotels and attractions; 13 hotels have opened in Auckland alone since 2020.

Visitors can also look forward to new trails like Hokitika Gorge’s new extension, adventure tours like the new Glacier Heli-Hike on the West Coast, a revived cultural scene in Auckland and blockbuster events like the Rugby World Cup (2022) and the FIFA Women’s World Cup (2023). Discover the best cruises to explore this epic country below.

New Zealand is open: 7 of the best New Zealand cruises to book now

New Zealand Coastal Odyssey: The Ultimate Expedition Cruise of the New Zealand Coast with Heritage Expeditions

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Zodiacs in Fiordland. Credit: Steve Bradley, Heritage Expeditions

Heritage Expeditions is celebrating the reopening of New Zealand’s borders to international visitors with the launch of three brand new voyages. The New Zealand based expedition cruise operator, which has been specialising in conservation-based trips for the past 35 years, is marking the addition of the new cruises with a $500 flight credit per person booking any of the three trips.

The first of the new departures leaves the bright lights of Auckland on 14 November 2022 on an 11-day voyage to discover the highlights of the country’s three main islands, North, South and Stewart. Before boarding the 140-guest ship, Heritage Adventurer, in Tauranga, a detour will take in the geothermal sights of Rotorua.

Explore everything from the avant-garde fashion labels of Dunedin, the adventure playground of Queenstown and the Art Deco capital of Napier, to the stunning scenery of Fiordland including Milford, Doubtful and Dusky Sounds. Guests will never be far from New Zealand’s gourmet delights, including award-winning wines from Canterbury, Marlborough, Hawke’s Bay and French-infused Akaroa, along with its cheeses.

From $4495pp (including  $500pp flight credit) for 11 nights on board Heritage Adventurer. Departs 14 Nov 2022. Call +64 (0)3 365 3500 or visit heritage-expeditions.com for more information.

Stunning Fjords & Granite Peaks: Auckland to Sydney with Regent Seven Seas Cruises

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Credit: Holger Offermann via Unsplash

This epic itinerary starts in the beautiful city of Auckland before beach exploration in the Bay of Islands and hot spring soaks in Rotorua, a prelude to calling in at Napier, Wellington and Christchurch and cruising New Zealand’s epic fjords and sounds, ending with city slicking in Australia’s Sydney and Melbourne.

Alongside it all, you’ll be able to take advantage of unlimited shore excursions on board, from mountain road trips to bird spotting excursions, as well as all the luxuries of the Seven Seas Explorer, from fine dining to nightly entertainment and spa treatments.

From £10,299pp for 14 nights on board Seven Seas Explorer. Departs 5 Jan 2024. Call +44 (0)23 8082 1390 or visit rssc.com for more information. 

New Zealand Cruise with Royal Caribbean

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Franz Josef Glacier. Credit: Jackman Chiu via Unsplash

This excellent-value cruise visits all the iconic stops on a New Zealand itinerary, including the chance to check out Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers on the South Island, two of the world’s most accessible glaciers.

Then, get your fix of urban culture in Auckland and Christchurch and head to the World Heritage-listed Fiordland National Park, home to the mighty fjords of Milford Sound. It’s all bookended by exploring Sydney’s buzzing restaurants, famous harbour and more.

From £926pp for 12 nights on board Ovation of the Seas. Departs 11 Mar 2023. Call 0344 493 or visit royalcaribbean.com for more information.  

The Best of New Zealand: An Intimate Exploration Cruise of New Zealand’s Islands with Heritage Expeditions

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Schoolhouse Bay. Credit: Todd, Heritage Expeditions

Guests looking for a longer voyage will find this 15-day cruise, departing on 6 March 2023 and sailing from Queenstown to Auckland, perfect for discovering the very best New Zealand has to offer. This itinerary includes a more leisurely exploration of the implausible beauty of Fiordland’s sunken valleys and towering mountains, the coast of which is only accessible by sea, making it the most remote and, therefore, unspoilt region of the mainland.

Other highlights of the expedition are also designed to appeal to nature lovers, such as Abel Tasman, the country’s smallest National Park, famed for its lush greenery, golden beaches, sculptured cliffs and cascading waterfalls, and stops at several iconic towns such as the Scottish city, Dunedin; the Garden City of Christchurch; the fertile soils of Gisborne, home to the National Arboretum, plus the world’s coolest capital, Wellington.

From $5,845pp (including $500pp flight credit) for 14 nights on board Heritage Adventurer. Departs 6 Mar 2023. Call +64 (0)3 365 3500 or visit heritage-expeditions.com for more information.

Treasures of the Pacific: The Yasawas to New Zealand with Scenic

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Aotea Island, Great Barrier Island, New Zealand. Credit: Yu Xuan Lee via Unsplash

If you’d just like a taste of New Zealand and the very best it has to offer, this cruise is the perfect choice. You’ll explore everything from the wild tropical landscapes, crystal waters and volcanoes of the Pacific Islands to the lush national parks and Dark Sky Sanctuary of New Zealand’s best kept secret, Great Barrier Island, a gem filled with sub-tropical forests, walking trails and the beautiful Port Fitzroy.

Sail from the paradise of Fiji to exotic ports in New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Australia and New Zealand among blissful beaches, abundant seabirds and marine life, while enjoying all the comforts of the ultra-luxury Scenic Eclipse Discovery Yacht.

From £9,118pp for 14 nights on board a Scenic Eclipse Discovery Yacht. Departs 26 Oct 2024. Call 0808 115 3270 or visit scenic.co.uk for more information.

Australia, New Zealand & Indonesia with Viking

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Padar Island, Komodo, Indonesia. Credit: Fajruddin Mudzakkir via Unsplash

This epic 31-day exploration of Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia is perfect for a true adventure. Enjoy a more leisurely exploration of these epic landscapes, including all of New Zealand’s most famous cities and the ultra-scenic Foveaux Strait before exploring the coast of Australia for two weeks and ending among the tropical delights of Komodo, Bali and Lombok.

Alongside it all, enjoy all the delights of Viking Mars, from its Nordic Spa to its high-end chef’s Table restaurant, as well as included shore excursion in almost every port, evening entertainment and enrichment talks.

From £12,040 for 31 nights on board Viking Mars. Departs 7 Mar 2023. Call 0800 298 97 00 or visit vikingcruises.co.uk for more information.

Unseen Fiordland, Stewart Island & The Snares: Exploring New Zealand’s Remote Backyard with Heritage Expeditions

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New Zealand Fur Seal. Credit: K Riede, Heritage Expeditions

This eight-day round-trip from Queenstown departs on 28 February 2023 and is the most reminiscent of the company’s original pioneering expedition cruises, heading further off the beaten track than its other new itineraries. The remote areas of New Zealand’s Southern region are known for their diverse wildlife, awe-inspiring landscapes and, reputedly, more nesting sea birds than the entire British Isles at Subantarctic islands, The Snares.

With 85& of Stewart Island designated national park, environmentalists and nature lovers will be in their element, while ornithologists will marvel at the breadth of bird life in the overhead canopies. Zodiac cruising along their outstanding coastlines allows guests to explore sheltered bays observing Snares Crested Penguins.

This itinerary also offers the rare opportunity to combine Stewart Island and The Snares with a visit to majestic Fiordland on one voyage. Guests will have three full days to explore remote ice-carved mountains, verdant forests, hidden inlets, coves and beaches, hopeful of spotting New Zealand fur seals, dusky dolphins and numerous bird species.

From $4,775pp (including $500pp flight credit) for 8 nights on board Heritage Adventurer. Departs 28 Feb 2023.  Call +64 (0)3 365 350 or visit heritage-expeditions.com for more information.

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White River. Credit: Heritage Expeditions

Sarah Handley, General Manager for Americas & Europe for Tourism New Zealand said: “It is truly exciting that international visitors will soon be able to visit Aotearoa New Zealand and experience the country’s warm welcome, or manaakitanga.

“The announcement today will give our tourism industry the certainty and boost it needs to ramp up efforts in international markets.”

René de Monchy, Chief Executive, Tourism New Zealand said: “We look forward to welcoming manuhiri (visitors), family and friends back from April.

“New Zealand has plenty to offer international visitors from breathtaking landscapes, rare and remarkable wildlife to our rich culture and heritage; our people and place are what make us unique, and we look forward to sharing this with the world again.”

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