28 Night Cruise departing from Auckland roundtrip onboard Silversea Muse.
This round-trip not only takes in the highlights of both the North and South Islands but will show you a very different way of island living. Contemplate the beauty of New Zealand's fabled Sounds, hop, skip and jump to Australia's wonderful, wild landscape before heading to tiny islands that time forgot. Spliced in with days spent admiring the beauty of the South Pacific and your antipodean getaway is complete.
Highlights of this cruise:
Auckland is called the City of Sails, and visitors flying in will see why. On the East Coast is the Waitemata Harbour - a Mori word meaning sparkling waters - which is bordered by the Hauraki Gulf, an aquatic playground peppered with small islands where many Aucklanders can be found mucking around in boats.Not surprisingly, Auckland has some 70,000 boats. About one in four households in Auckland has a seacraft of some kind, and there are 102 beaches within an hour's drive during the week many are quite empty. Even the airport is by the water it borders the Manukau Harbour, which also takes its name from the Mori language and means solitary bird.
The earthquake that struck Napier at 10:46 am on February 3, 1931, was - at 7.8 on the Richter scale - the largest quake ever recorded in New Zealand. The coastline was wrenched upward several feet. Almost all the town's brick buildings collapsed many people were killed on the footpaths as they rushed outside. The quake triggered fires throughout town, and with water mains shattered, little could be done to stop the blazes that devoured the remaining wooden structures. Only a few buildings survived (the Public Service Building with its neoclassical pillars is one), and the death toll was well over 100.The surviving townspeople set up tents and cookhouses in Nelson Park, and then tackled the city's reconstruction at a remarkable pace. In the rush to rebuild, Napier went mad for art deco, the bold, geometric style that had burst on the global design scene in 1925.
The maritime township of Picton (population 4,000) lies at the head of Queen Charlotte Sound and is the arrival point for ferries from the North Island, as well as a growing number of international cruise ships. It plays a major role in providing services and transport by water taxi to a multitude of remote communities in the vast area of islands, peninsulas, and waterways that make up the Marlborough Sounds Maritime Park. There's plenty to do in town, with crafts markets in summer, historical sights to see, and walking tracks to scenic lookouts over the sounds. The main foreshore is lined by London Quay, which looks up Queen Charlotte Sound to the bays beyond. High Street runs down to London Quay from the hills, and between them these two streets make up the center of town.
Stewart Island is home to New Zealand's newest national park, Rakiura National Park. The third and most southerly of New Zealand's main islands, Stewart Island is separated from the South Island by the 24-km (15-miles) Foveaux Strait. Its original Mori name, Te Punga O Te Waka a Maui, means the anchor stone of Maui's canoe. Mori mythology says the island's landmass held the god Maui's canoe secure while he and his crew raised the great fish - the North Island. Today the island is more commonly referred to by its other Mori name, Rakiura, which means the land of the glowing skies. This refers to the spectacular sunrises and sunsets and to the southern lights, or aurora australis. The European name of Stewart Island dates back to 1809. It memorializes an officer William W. Stewart on an early sealing vessel, the Pegasus, who was the first to chart the island. The island covers some 1,700 square km (650 square miles).
Cruising Milford Sound
New Zealand fiord country along with Fiordland National Park is one of New Zealand's premier attractions. Incredibly beautiful, wild and remote, the region is an intriguing combination of rugged mountain ranges, dense rainforest, solitary alpine lakes, sparkling rivers and splashing waterfalls. Much of Fiordland is virtually unexplored wilderness and still the habitat of rare birds. As the ship cruises the beautiful Doubtful, Dusky and Milford Sounds, experience the majestic fiordland of South Island's western coast. Captain James Cook sailed along this coast in 1770 and again in 1773, when he anchored at Dusky Sound for a rest and ship repair. Doubtful Sound is one of the region's most majestic fiords. It is ten times larger than Milford Sound. As the ship cruises into Hall Arm, gaze at vertical cliffs and mighty waterfalls plunging over sheer rock faces. In fine weather, mountains and greenery are reflected in the protected waters of the fiord.
Consistently rated among the world's most livable cities in quality-of-life surveys, Melbourne is built on a coastal plain at the top of the giant horseshoe of Port Phillip Bay. The city center is an orderly grid of streets where the state parliament, banks, multinational corporations, and splendid Victorian buildings that sprang up in the wake of the gold rush now stand. This is Melbourne's heart, which you can explore at a leisurely pace in a couple of days.In Southbank, one of the newer precincts south of the city center, the Southgate development of bars, restaurants, and shops has refocused Melbourne's vision on the Yarra River.
Sydney belongs to the exclusive club of cities that generate excitement. At the end of a marathon flight there's renewed vitality in the cabin as the plane circles the city, where thousands of yachts are suspended on the dark water and the sails of the Opera House glisten in the distance. Blessed with dazzling beaches and a sunny climate, Sydney is among the most beautiful cities on the planet.With 4.6 million people, Sydney is the biggest and most cosmopolitan city in Australia. A wave of immigration from the 1950s has seen the Anglo-Irish immigrants who made up the city's original population joined by Italians, Greeks, Turks, Lebanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thais, and Indonesians.
North of Nadi through sugarcane plantations and past the Sabeto Mountains is Lautoka, nicknamed the Sugar City for the local agriculture and its big processing mill. With a population of around 50,000, it is Fiji's only city besides Suva and, like the capital, has a pleasant waterfront. It's the sailing point for Blue Lagoon and the main harbor for woodchips, which can clearly be seen next to the harbor, and sugar. Legend has it that Lautoka acquired its name when two chiefs engaged in combat and one hit the other with a spear. He proclaimed lau toka (spear hit) and thus the future town was named.
Think island paradise anywhere in the world and you will almost certainly conjure up images of Dravuni Island. Shallow limpid seas surround palm tree fringed beaches that encircle the whole island bar the extremities. One of the 110 inhabited islands in the Kadavu archipelago with just 125 residents, Dravuni could be considered Fiji's mischievous little brother. Smaller, much more manageable and far less touristy than Fiji, do not expect to find an infrastructure of hotels and car hire businesses. A village school and meeting house are perhaps the sum total of civilization here, but the exceptionally friendly welcome from the residents by far makes up for any lack of modern comforts. Instead this special little island has transparent seas that are unsurprisingly a snorkeller's dream come true. A kaleidoscopic vision of colour thrives beneath the surface and is quite literally a visual feast for the eyes.
Bay Of Islands
The Tasman Sea on the west and the Pacific Ocean on the east meet at the top of North Island at Cape Reinga. No matter what route you take, you'll pass farms and forests, marvellous beaches, and great open spaces. The East Coast, up to the Bay of Islands, is Northland's most densely populated, often with refugees from bigger cities - looking for a more relaxed life - clustered around breathtaking beaches. The first decision on the drive north comes at the foot of the Brynderwyn Hills. Turning left will take you up the West Coast through areas once covered with forests and now used for either agricultural or horticulture. Driving over the Brynderwyns, as they are known, takes you to Whangarei, the only city in Northland. If you're in the mood for a diversion, you can slip to the beautiful coastline and take in Waipu Cove, an area settled by Scots, and Laings Beach, where million-dollar homes sit next to small Kiwi beach houses.