Day 1 Auckland, New Zealand
In the Maori language Auckland is known as Tamaki Makau Rau, the city of 100 lovers, having earned the name because it was a place desired by all and conquered by many. The setting is spectacular, the city being nestled upon three harbours - the Waitemata, the Manukau and the Kaipara. Don't miss the chance to dine out in Auckland as the city has perfected the style of cuisine called "Pacific Rim", blending Asian and Pacific flavours. Seafood features prominently on restaurant menus so be sure to try New Zealand green lipped mussels and succulent Clevedon Coast oysters - all matched with an excellent New Zealand wine.
Day 2 White Island
In 1769, James Cook gave the island its name because of the dense clouds of steam hanging over it. Today the island still emits visible plumes of steam, often ejecting clouds of ash that rise as high as 10km on clear, still days. The crater, containing a lake, often fluorescent green in colour, is over 100 metres deep.
This is a fascinating place to visit as there is continuous thermal activity on the surface of the island, with boiling pools, pot holes of sulphuric acid, steam and natural gas vents.
Located 48km offshore, White island has built up over 15,000 years of ongoing volcanic activity. About 70 percent of the volcano remains under the sea, making this massive volcanic structure the largest in New Zealand.
After a Zodiac transfer we will don our safety equipment and explore the slopes of White Island Volcano.
Day 3 Napier, Hawkes Bay
Enjoying a sunny Mediterranean-style climate, Hawke’s Bay is famous for its wineries, orchards and artisan food producers. Lavender gardens, orchards and olive plantations thrive under the Hawke's Bay sun.
The regional feature is the town of Napier, famous for its concentration of buildings in the styles of the 1930s - Stripped Classical, Spanish Mission, and above all Art Deco. Almost leveled by an earthquake in 1931, Napier rebuilt and today has one of the most outstanding collections of 1930's architecture to be seen anywhere in the world. This is a living film set where you can step back in time to an elegant era.
To take advantage of the intriguing Art Deco architecture that makes Napier so special, a guided Art Deco walk will be included for all Orion guests today.
Optional Excursion: Napier Gannet Safari ($125), Napier Big Picture Wine Experience ($60)
Day 5 Marlborough Sounds Maritime Park
Maori legend describes the entire South Island as Maui's Waka (canoe), wrecked on a reef during a fishing expedition, the shattered bow of the canoe became the Sounds.
For centuries, Marlborough has offered safe harbour to travellers. First to Maori traders and war parties; then to European explorers, such as Captain James Cook and Dumont D'Urville; and now Orion guests seeking new landscapes and rejuvenating experiences.
This relaxed sojourn will provide opportunistic Zodiac exploration and landings, including historic Ship Cove (Endeavour Inlet) where Captain James Cook was based for a period during his 1770 voyage, and Motuara Island Bird Sanctuary.
Motuara Island Bird Sanctuary is predator free making it a bird-lovers paradise with blue penguins, kereru, bellbirds, yellow-crowned parakeets (kakariki), South Island saddleback, bellbirds and South Island robins encountered along the trail during your guided walk to the top for the amazing view across Cook Strait to the North Island.
Day 6 Akaroa
Today dawns with relaxed scenic cruising of the outer Banks Peninsula, followed by arrival and anchorage at the historic French settlement of Akaroa (population 680), an historic French and British settlement nestled in the heart of an ancient volcano.
A gentle stroll around the village will reveal fascinating colonial architecture, interesting craft stores to explore and intimate cafés - perfect for reflection and contemplation. The beautiful harbour, home to the world's smallest and rarest dolphin, the Hectors Dolphin, dominates the landscape.
Day 7 Dunedin
Orion’s shallow draft will allow her to cruise all the way into Dunedin city wharf (whereas other vessels berth at Port Chalmers) to provide guests a full day ashore to enjoy this charming city, regarded as one of the best preserved Victorian and Edwardian cities in the Southern Hemisphere.
The Otago region was settled by Maori's over four centuries ago, with Scottish migrants establishing a small town in 1848. After gold was discovered Dunedin rapidly developed to (then) become New Zealand's biggest city and the country's industrial and commercial heart, with many ornate heritage buildings dating from this period still standing today. It was the first city outside the to have its own tram system. The Botanic Gardens, New Zealand's first, are located at the northern end of the city on the lower slopes of Signal Hill.
Day 8 Stewart Island
Stewart Island is the southern-most island of New Zealand. The forest is a haven for bird-life including Kaka, Parakeets and Bellbirds as there are fewer predators than on the mainland. New Zealand's national bird, the Kiwi, is found all round the island, often seen feeding on sandhoppers at the beach. Most sand is golden, however there is black iron sand on some beaches while others are white with quartz or red with garnet.
Orion will make her way along the sheltered eastern coast of Stewart Island (Rakiura), 96% of which is designated as Rakiura National Park. We will anchor in Paterson Inlet to visit the quaint fishing village of Oban in Halfmoon Bay with its art and craft shops and the wildlife sanctuary on Ulva Island.
Optional Excursions: Ulva Island Wildlife Sanctuary Guided Walk, Oban Village & Bay Tour, please contact us for rates.
Day 9 Dusky & Doubtful Sounds
Experience spectacular cruising through pristine wilderness in the very heart of Fiordland National Park, the largest in New Zealand and one of the largest in the world. The park is bordered to the east by glacial lakes and to the west by the 14 fiords that give Fiordland its name. Orion enters via Thompson Sound enroute to Doubtful and Dusky Sounds.
At 421 metres depth, Doubtful is the deepest of these fiords. Exuding a peaceful serenity it is sometimes called “the Sound of Silence”. Abundant in both flora and fauna, these fiordlands are renowned for their excellent dolphin and seal viewing opportunities, either from Orion or onboard one of Orion's Zodiacs. Fiordland Crested Penguins are often seen on many of the small islets at the entrance of the fiord and at Nee Islets there is a fur seal colony.
Doubtful and Dusky both include spectacular ship based cruising as Orion winds her way through the fiords. Due to strict national park controls Zodiac cruising is tightly monitored but does allow us to include a cruise and a landing at Astronomer’s Point where a short walk is possible.
Day 10 Milford Sound
Orion is the perfect viewing platform from which to see World Heritage listed Milford Sound; a memorable scenic cruise that includes glacial carved hanging valleys, the iconic 1600 metre high Mitre Peak and magnificent Stirling Falls. The Maori were the first to ascribe creation of the fiords to a “titanic mason”, Tute Rakiwhanoa – a concept you will find totally believable as Orion slips beneath sheer granite cliffs, not yet worn smooth by time.
Along with the festivities onboard, Orion guests will enjoy amazing ship based and Zodiac cruising which will allow you to fully explore the famous Milford Sound.
Day 11 Bluff (Invercargill), New Zealand
The largest urban centre in ’s Southland is Invercargill, a city of 49,000 people. Visitors come to admire the elegant Victorian and Edwardian buildings, gardens and landscaped parks. The fishing port of Bluff is a half hour drive south from Invercargill and is home to the famous Bluff oyster and a lively annual seafood festival. On days of embarkation or disembarkation transfers will operate between Bluff and Invercargill.