10 Night Cruise sailing from Auckland to Dunedin aboard Silver Explorer.
Aotearoa or New Zealand, one of the world's most isolated countries is also one of the greatest. Its small compass houses an amazing range of scenery, incorporating just about every natural phenomena that you can think of - geysers, volcanoes, fjords, mountains and stunning wildlife. Yet this is not only a voyage of unforgettable landscapes, expect also sophisticated cities and architectural jewels along the way.
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.
The population center of the Bay of Plenty, Tauranga is one of New Zealand's fastest-growing cities. Along with its neighbor, Whakatane, this seaside city claims to be one of the country's sunniest towns. Unlike most local towns, Tauranga doesn't grind to a halt in the off-season, because it has one of the busiest ports in the country, and the excellent waves at the neighboring beach resort of Mount Maunganui - just across Tauranga's harbor bridge - always draw surfers and holiday folk.
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.
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 most southernmost town in New Zealand, Bluff (or The Bluff as it is locally known) is perhaps the most European of all the settlements in the country. Called Campbelltown until 1917, the city was officially renamed after the 265 meter conical hill that towers above it. One of the farthest corners of the British Empire, the inaugural Royal Tour of New Zealand by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, concluded at Bluff in January 1954. Nowadays however, it is the Bluff oysters that are the stars of the show.
Clinging to the walls of the natural amphitheater at the west end of Otago Harbour, the South Island's second-largest city is enriched with inspiring nearby seascapes and wildlife. Because Dunedin is a university town, floods of students give the city a vitality far greater than its population of 122,000 might suggest.