Board the ship at 4:00pm and depart the "City of Sails" at 5:00pm. Enjoy the views of the city and Hauraki Gulf as you begin your 13 day New Zealand expedition cruise. Spend the late afternoon cruising through Hauraki Gulf and its many islands before joining the Captain and his crew for Welcome Cocktails. Then, enjoy the first of many delicious dinners aboard Coral Discoverer.
Depending on the weather, embark on an excursion to White Island and its active volcano, identifiable by the constant plume of steam spouting from its crater. Following a landing with the "Xplorer," spend approximately three hours on a guided walk to the crater, then return to the Coral Discoverer for lunch. Cruise southwards along the coast to Whangara, a small Maori settlement best known for its use in the movie 'Whale Rider.'
This morning, depending on the weather, land on Whangara Beach for an traditional Maori cultural experience. Learn about the Hongi, attend a Kapa Haka cultural show, and take a tour of the Marae by the elder of the Ngati Konohi people.
Following your visit with the Maori, cruise to Gisborne, the first European landing place in New Zealand. Captain Cook's first landing took place in 1769 and a European settlement was established in 1831. Enjoy the opportunity to explore the region. Whether your interest is the history, the renowned wines and vineyards, short or long walks or beautiful gardens, this region offers you a multitude of guided or self-discovery options.
Sail for Napier, a unique city which was rebuilt in 1931 following a large earthquake. The rebuild followed the flourishing art deco trend in America and Europe, and offers a wonderful heritage of art deco architecture. Spend the morning enjoying the sights of the city, or embark on an optional adventure tour to Cape Kidnappers Gannet Sanctuary, the world's largest mainland gannet colony.
Spend two days exploring an array of spectacular waterways, including the fjord-like Queen Charlotte Sound. Retrace the history of Captain Cook and visit Ships Cove, a regular stop for Captain Cook on his voyage of discovery and the place where he careened his vessel the Endeavour. Days five and six offer a multitude of explorations aboard the Xplorer and inflatable Zodiacs under the guidance of your Expedition Leader. Subject to timing, spend time ashore in Picton. Guided visits to Moturoa Island are offered where you can enjoy an abundance of bird life. Bid farewell to the dark green hills and blue-green waters of the Sounds with an evening cruise through the scenic Tory Channel. In the evening, continue the journey southwards.
Day seven is dedicated to the ultimate marine experience of whale watching along the Kaikoura coastline. Kaikoura is one of the few places in the world where you can view the giant sperm whale in its natural environment. Joined by dusky dolphins, seabirds, fur seals and other migratory whale species, a whale-watching opportunity in New Zealand promises to be an experience you will never forget.
Cruise to the secluded Akaroa Harbor, a picturesque bay which hosts a myriad of wildlife including penguins and dolphins. Hope to swim with one of the smallest and rarest dolphins in the world - the Hector's or New Zealand Dolphin. Originally settled by the French in the early 19th century, Akaroa retains its Gallic heritage and ambiance.
Cruise past the world's largest mainland albatross colony at Tairoa Heads. The area is also the home of the world's rarest penguin, the Yellowed Eyed Penguin. Dunedin offers a great diversity of experiences, ranging from the abundant wildlife to the historic Edwardian and Victorian architecture, the Otakou Maori marae, the famous Speights brewery, Dunedin Public Art Gallery, Settlers Museum, and New Zealand's oldest botanical gardens. Spend a full day in port exploring the area at your leisure.
Cruise to Stewart Island, a large island which is almost totally wilderness and home to a vast number of seals, birds and other wildlife. Spend a day of discovery and exploration throughout the Paterson Inlet and surrounding areas. Either encounter includes guided "Xplorer" and/or Zodiac excursions to maximize the experience to it fullest. Walk ashore with an experienced naturalists to encounter native birds such as the Weka, Tui, Bellbird, Kaka, and Karikari.
Begin your experience of the deep Fiordland waterways as you enter Dusky Fiord. Spend the day in awe of the spectacular and dramatic natural wilderness while cruising past the sheer cliffs and tumbling waterfalls of this beautiful landscape. Enjoy the view from the Coral Discoverer or choose to explore the inlets on the "Xplorer" or Zodiacs. Rejoin the Coral Discoverer and head north to Doubtful Fiord to anchor for the evening.
Sail into Doubtful Sound, the deepest of the fiords. Join the "Xplorer" or one of the inflatable Zodiacs with your informative Guest Lecturers and take a guided excursion through the maze of spectacular waterways. In the evening, enjoy the Captain's Farewell Cocktails while engulfed by the dramatic scenery.
Savor your breakfast as you cruise the dramatic 14 miles of Milford Sound. The calm waters of the sound mirror the sheer peaks that rise all around, including the instantly recognizable Mitre Peak, towering some 5250 feet above the water. Disembark in Milford Sound and bid farewell to the Captain and crew. Join your chartered coach for the drive through Fiordland National Park and along the shores of beautiful Lake Te Anau before arriving in the alpine town of Queenstown. During the drive, enjoy breathtaking mountain scenery and pass through the remarkable 3,940 foot Homer Tunnel, a fantastic way to conclude your journey of 'the land of the long white cloud.'