A brand-new itinerary brings visitors closer to the wildlife, landscapes, and local produce of the country’s three largest islands.
With New Zealand set to reopen its borders to much of the world on May 2, Christchurch-based cruise operator Heritage Expeditions has introduced quite the bucket-list trip. Cue the 11-day New Zealand Coastal Odyssey, billed as “the ultimate Kiwi adventure to experience it all.” The inaugural departure is scheduled on November 14, 2022.
Travelers will spend the first night in Auckland before being whisked to Rotorua the next day to inspect the area’s geothermal features; they’ll board the Heritage Adventurer at nearby Tauranga that same afternoon. Originally designed for polar expeditions, the vessel accommodates up to 140 guests, and comes with a fleet of 14 Zodiacs for accessing isolated bays and inlets.
Over the next 10 days, Heritage Adventurer will sail down the eastern coast of the North and South Islands and traverse the Foveaux Strait to reach Fiordland. En route, voyagers can visit Napier — a small bayside city famed for its art deco architecture — and sip local syrah and chardonnay in Hawke’s Bay, followed by yet more wine tastings in Canterbury and Marlborough. Turophiles, take note: the itinerary includes a stop at an artisanal cheese factory in Akaroa.
And there are plenty of opportunities for wildlife encounters, whether it’s sighting Hector’s dolphins, native fur seals, and penguins in Akaroa Harbour, or sea lions and yellow-eyed penguins on the Otago Peninsula, which is also home to the only albatross colony in mainland New Zealand. Heritage Adventurer takes guests off the beaten track to rugged Stewart Island, which has a population of just 440; expect starry skies and guided forest walks on predator-free Ulva Island to observe the endemic birdlife. Two full days are dedicated to exploring the flooded, steep-sided valleys of Fiordland, and passengers will then disembark at the port of Bluff for the transfer to Queenstown, where they’ll be dropped off at the airport or a city-center hotel.
The voyage is priced from US$4,495 per person, including all meals and shore excursions, pre/post cruise transfers, and one night’s accommodation in a twin share room with dinner and breakfast. A bonus flight credit of US$500 per person will be added upon booking.
More information here.