Have questions? We're here.
Explore New Zealand's stunning Milford Sound

Insider's New Zealand: Milford Sound to Auckland

Example 15 Day Cruise aboard Coral Discoverer (ZE)
Talk with an expert
Customize any aspect of your New Zealand trip. 1.406.541.2677
Help Me Plan My Trip
Talk with an expert Ask a Question
Adventure and memories await on this 15-day New Zealand cruise. Begin in Queenstown and board the ship in Milford Sound. Sail through the fjords and begin sailing up the eastern coast of this South Pacific island nation. As you sail, search for dolphins and sea-life, and disembark the ship for breathtaking hikes and cultural interaction with the native Maori. Beautiful New Zealand is sure to capture your heart as you sail from port to port.

Day-by-Day Summary

Day 1 : Queenstown / Overnight
Day 2 : Queenstown
Day 3 : Milford South / Embark
Day 4 : Doubtful Sound
Day 5 : Breaksea & Dusky Sounds
Day 6 : Stewart & Ulva Islands
Day 7 : Dunedin
Day 8 : Christchurch
Day 9 : Kaikoura
Day 10 : Picton
Day 11 : At Sea
Day 12 : Napier
Day 13 : White Island
Day 14 : Waiheke Island / Tiritiri Mantangi Island
Day 15 : Auckland / Disembark


Coral Discoverer (ZE)

Places Visited

  • New Zealand
  • South Pacific
  • Auckland
  • Christchurch
  • Doubtful Sound
  • Dunedin
  • Dusky Sound
  • Kaikoura
  • Milford Sound
  • Napier
  • Picton
  • Queenstown
  • Stewart Island
  • Waiheke Island
  • White Island


Trip Type

  • Small Ship

Activity Level


Trip Snapshots

Explore New Zealand's stunning Milford Sound Auckland, the City of Sails A whorl of Silver Fern A local craftsman carves a Maori design An aerial view of Queenstown

Day 1 Queenstown / Overnight

  • 1 Dinner
Arrive in Queenstown, New Zealand, and transfer to your hotel. Spend the afternoon at your leisure before gathering in the evening for a welcome reception and dinner.

Day 2 Queenstown

  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Choose one of three excursion options for your day, each of which were designed to highlight Queenstown's natural and cultural attributes. Journey through the dramatic Lord of the Rings landscapes of Central Otago and meet the winemakers of the world’s southernmost wine-producing region. Or, ride the Skyline Gondola to the top of Bob’s Peak, then take a thrilling jet boat ride on the famed Shotover Jet. Art lovers will enjoy visiting the private studios, gardens, and galleries of internationally renowned artists.

Day 3 Milford South / Embark

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
In the morning, take a scenic drive to Milford Sound and board the Oceanic Discoverer. Part of UNESCO World Heritage, the southwestern fjords are famed for their spectacular glacier-carved waterways and unique flora and fauna. Cruise the length of Milford Sound, past soaring cliff faces and beneath powerful cascades. At its southern shore stands New Zealand’s fabled icon—Mitre Peak.

Day 4 Doubtful Sound

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
New Zealand’s deepest fjord is a nearly uninhabited wilderness of breathtaking beauty. During a day of expedition cruising watch for New Zealand fur seals, bottlenose dolphins, and the rare Fjordland crested penguins. Set out by Zodiac to explore remote coves where Captain Cook anchored his ship, the Resolution, while he mapped, named, and described the fjords during his intrepid 1773 voyage.

Day 5 Breaksea & Dusky Sounds

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Breaksea and Dusky Sound’s luxuriant rain forests, wooded islands, and waterways are home to many bird species, including bellbirds, tuis, and the kereru, a large native wood pigeon. Explore this pristine marine environment by Zodiac and visit historic Astronomer’s Point, the place where Captain Cook’s astronomer surveyed the stars of the southern hemisphere.

Day 6 Stewart & Ulva Islands

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Peaceful Stewart Island is home to fewer than 500 inhabitants. Explore the coastline and seal-populated bays before anchoring near Oban, where the proud community extends a warm and entertaining welcome. Local guides lend insight into the island’s unique environment and Maori history. Nearby Ulva Island is the southernmost bird sanctuary in the world and the only place where you can observe the kiwi in its natural habitat. Exquisite seasonal orchids bloom at this time of year and the rata forest is home to the kaka, a threatened native parrot. Tonight, the ship follows the eastern coastline to Dunedin.

Day 7 Dunedin

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Arrive in port in the morning after cruising scenic Otago Harbor and choose one of two local discovery options. Take a drive to Taiaroa Head to visit the world-famous northern royal albatross colony; then, observe and photograph yellow-eyed penguins at close range. Or, join a local historian for a walk through the heart of enchanting Dunedin, viewing the distinct Edwardian and Victorian architectural styles of First Church, St. Paul Cathedral, and the Dunedin Railway Station.

Day 8 Christchurch

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Discover the highlights of 'The Garden City' and surrounding region on the excursion of your choice. Tour the neighborhoods of Christchurch followed by a private walking tour of the elegant Botanic Gardens and a visit to the renowned Canterbury Museum. Or, drive through the city center for a look at the remarkable ongoing earthquake recovery effort, then enjoy an exciting interactive experience at the International Antarctic Center. Or, explore the volcanic landscape of the nearby Bank Peninsula, and watch for the world’s rarest marine dolphin in the local waters.

Day 9 Kaikoura

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Just off the coast of this historic Maori settlement, cold and warm currents create a rich upwelling of nutrients, and marine mammals congregate year-round to feed here. Experience the local world of the Maori and their deep connection to the land and sea through storytelling, a traditional craft workshop, and a bushwalk. Or, board local whale watching vessels to search for pilot, blue, and southern right whales, and perhaps the world’s largest toothed predator — the giant sperm whale. Also keep watch for Hector’s dolphin, found only in the waters surrounding South Island.

Day 10 Picton

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Situated on the northeast corner of the South Island, Picton is the gateway to the Marlborough Sounds, a labyrinth of waterways dotted by hundreds of jewel-like emerald islands. Choose to explore this enchanted region by sea or on land. Cruise among the islets with their placid bays and pristine coves and learn about local mussel cultivation — more than 200 green-lipped mussel farms thrive in the Sounds. Or, enjoy an authentic Kiwi sheep farm experience followed by a visit to a nearby winery for a tasting.

Day 11 At Sea

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Relax onboard as you sail through the Tory channel and continue up the eastern side of the North Island.

Day 12 Napier

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
When an earthquake and its subsequent fires destroyed much of Napier in 1931, the residents rebuilt it in the popular Art Deco style of the times, incorporating Maori motifs into the design. Surrounding the city are rolling hills covered in vineyards, which thrive in the Mediterranean-like climate. Excursion options include a tour of Napier’s Art Deco neighborhoods by vintage car, followed by a visit to a local winery; a daylong trip through the stunning wine country; or, a visit to a huge gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers with a stop at a local winery on the return.

Day 13 White Island

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Whakaari, or White Island, is New Zealand’s only active marine volcano, its cone rising 1,055 feet above the Bay of Plenty. Discover the lunar-like crater landscape on a guided, easy hike and witness bubbling fumaroles, hissing steam vents, and bright yellow chimneys of sulphur crystals.

Day 14 Waiheke Island / Tiritiri Mantangi Island

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Cruise to Waiheke Island for a guided walk through magical Connells Bay Sculpture Park. After lunch, visit Tiritiri Mantangi, which is among the most successful restoration projects in the world. Threatened and endangered bird and reptile species have been introduced to the island’s safe habitat, including the flightless takahe, one of the planet’s rarest avian species. On a guided walk, view and photograph an amazing array of birds, including saddleback, stitchbird, rifleman, and perhaps the beautiful kokako.

Day 15 Auckland / Disembark

  • 1 Breakfast
Disembark in Auckland in the morning and discover the charms of the city and its bond to the ancient Maori culture on your choice of excursions. Enjoy the vibrant neighborhood of Ponsonby, bustling with cafés and “kiwiana,” local New Zealand craft shops. Or, visit the Auckland Museum, housing the world’s most extensive collection of Maori artifacts. In the afternoon, transfer to the airport for your independent onward travel.

Coral Discoverer (ZE)

Per person starting at
Oceanic Discoverer's Main Deck Category B.
Select a Date
Category 1
Category 1 staterooms are 195 sq. feet and feature two portholes.
Oceanic Discoverer's Main Deck Category A.
Select a Date
Category 2
Category 2 staterooms are 195 sq. feet and feature two small windows.
Comfortable rooms aboard the Oceanic Discoverer
Select a Date
Category 3
Category 3 staterooms are 160 sq. ft and feature a large window.
Suites on the Oceanic Discoverer are very comfortable
Select a Date
Category 4
Category 4 staterooms are 195 sq. feet and feature a large window.
Comfortable cabin aboard the Oceanic Discoverer
Select a Date
Category 5
Category 5 staterooms are 195 sq. feet and feature a large window.


- Rates are per person based on double occupancy.
- Singles may be available at 1.6 times the share rate.

*All gratuities
*Accommodations in hotels and on board the Oceanic Discoverer as outlined in the itinerary
*All onboard meals
*All group meals on land
*Soft drinks, wine, and beer with lunch and dinner
*Arrival and departure transfers on group dates
*All group activities and excursions
*Landing and port fees
*$50,000 of medical expense coverage
*$75,000 in emergency evacuation insurance

*All air transportation
*Excess baggage charges
*Airport arrival and departure taxes
*Transfers for independent arrivals and departures
*Passport and/or visa fees
*Travel insurance
*Items of a personal nature such as laundry, bar charges, alcoholic beverages except as listed, e-mail/Internet/fax/telephone charges


  • 14 Breakfasts, 13 Lunches, 14 Dinners
Payment & Cancellation Policies
Change & customize to make it yours.
Jenna F

We Love to Talk Travel

Call 1.800.344.6118
Chat Now
Beyond expectations! Then again we weren't sure what to expect. Lovely stay at the lodge, met other like-minded travelers (many had their trips planned by Adventure Life) and the owner was a gracious hostess. It felt like you were one happy family, visiting with a favorite aunt.
Nancy Sin

Why Travel With Adventure Life

More Reasons

Awards and Accolades

All News