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Cruising In New Zealand - Port Highlights

Joanna Hall

When it comes to cruise holidays, New Zealand has its own distinct offerings from the Maori culture to sweeping vistas portrayed in blockbuster movies like "Lord of the Rings”. There are popular ports of call located on both the North and South Islands, ranging from dynamic cities such as Auckland and the nation’s capital Wellington, to to the dramatic fiords in the far south. Here’s our A-Z of the key ones.

Akaroa: A haven for artists as well as holidaymakers, it’s also the primary port used to visit the historic city of Christchurch (since the port of Lyttleton was badly damaged in earthquakes). The town is a former French and British settlement located in the heart of an ancient volcano, and Akaroa is undeniably picturesque at every turn, and easy to explore on foot. If you have time and good weather, venture further out and explore the dramatic outer bays.

Auckland: New Zealand's most populous urban center is also a maritime city, with many yachts in the harbour. Visitors will enjoy top notch museums and galleries, great shopping and cuisine, and wonderful wines. Away from the city centre, tours will take you to the wine-growing district, glow worm caves or coastal sites like the raucous Gannet colony at Muriwai. 

Bay of Islands: Named by Captain James Cook in the late eighteenth century, this is  a collection of 144 picturesque islands and hidden bays, and it was the first area of New Zealand to be settled by Europeans. It’s ideal for people who love history or indigenous Maori culture, spectacular landscapes and marine life. Key historical attractions include New Zealand's first capital, Russell, and the house where New Zealand's most important document, the Treaty of Waitangi, was signed in 1840. You an also get busy with a lineup of activities, which include taking an ocean safari to swim with dolphins, sailing on a yacht, paddling a Maori canoe, or kayaking. 

Dunedin (Port Chalmers): This is a South Island port which is also regarded as New Zealand's architectural heritage capital. The foundations of New Zealand's richest architectural heritage were built on the gold rushes of the 1860s, and Victorian and Edwardian buildings are still standing at every turn; it’s believed to be the most perfectly preserved Victorian city in the world. Dunedin's Scottish heritage is everywhere, from a statue of Robert Burns in the Octagon - the eight-sided heart of the central city - to the country's only whiskey distillery. 

Fjordland: Not so much port of call as a popular scenic cruising region featuring on many New Zealand itineraries, it’s a place of dramatic, eye-popping scenery carved by glaciers over 100,000 years. The landscape is steep fiords, lush rainforest, cascading waterfalls, and mirror-like lakes with granite peaks untouched for centuries. It’s also a  World Heritage Site, the three key attractions for cruise passengers are Milford, Dusky and Doubtful Sounds. 

Wellington: This is New Zealand's capital city, and it’s a lovely stroll along the waterfront where several museums, including the magnificent Te Papa, are located. You can also head of the hills to enjoy a view from the local cable car. Beyond the city is one of the country's most famous wine districts, set among the natural beauty of the Tararua Mountains, and if you’re a fan of "Lord of the Rings” you can visit film locations on a dedicated excursion. 

Other ports around New Zealand with their own charm and character include Napier, an Art-Deco gateway to the Hawkes Bay wine region, Picton, a gateway to the Marlborough Sounds and the South Island, and Tauranga, a beach community from where you can access Rotorua’s famous geysers and natural hot springs.

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  1. Posted by on 20th Nov 2018 Verified Customer

    Hard To Beat Fiordland 5 Star Review

    It's the best for jaw dropping scenery and nature....unfortunately my wife was quite seasick outside of the fiords but she still had a great time......can't wait to cruise there again

  2. Posted by on 20th Nov 2018 Verified Customer

    Missed A Few 4 Star Review

    Great article but you missed a few ports of call I think are well worthy of a mention. Hubby and I love to cruise NZ every other year or if we see a great offer.

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