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Beautiful view of Akaroa

New Zealand's East Coast

Example 13 Day Cruise aboard Coral Geographer
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Aboard Coral Geographer, experience New Zealand from a different perspective, as free time and the ability to customize your expedition from a choice of experiences in historic cities is contrasted with wilderness experiences guided by the knowledgeable expedition team. By small ship, enjoy access to remote and difficult-to-reach wilderness areas within the Marlborough Sounds and Fiordland, and visit sheltered coves and islands to find fur seals, kakapos, and pods of friendly dolphins.
A beautiful view of Milford Sound.Auckland, the City of SailsA quiet morning near DunedinSheep on a hillside overlooking Marlborough SoundsExperience the local culture of New Zealand.Beautiful view of Akaroa
Highlights
  • Enjoy a New Year’s Eve feast while anchored at historic Ship Cove
  • Experience the vibrant energy and stories of Maori culture
  • Explore four of Fiordland’s most beautiful sounds
  • Encounter many species of endemic birds and marine wildlife
Places Visited
Activity Level: Relaxed
Involves minimal physical effort and is typically associated with leisurely activities. Activities are low-intensity or last less than a few hours each day.
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Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Auckland, New Zealand | Embark

Arrive at Auckland’s Queens Wharf to board at 4:00 pm. You depart the ‘city of sails’ at 5:00 pm to make your way into the Hauraki Gulf; with its string of islands guarding the harbor, including the iconic Rangitoto Island – a dormant volcano. Take in the sights while enjoying the Captain’s welcome drinks and meeting the crew and your fellow passengers.

Day 2-12: Explore New Zealand's East Coast

  • Ship
  • 11 Breakfasts, 11 Lunches, 11 Dinners
Tauranga & Waimangu Valley, New Zealand
Waimangu means ‘black water’ – this fascinating place was named for the geyser that regularly erupted here until 1904. Waimangu is the world’s youngest volcanic valley, and there is much to see: spectacular volcanic craters, enormous hot water springs, and many birds. Enjoy views of the mysterious and beautiful Inferno Crater which rises and falls as it heats and cools.

Waimangu Volcanic Valley is home to Frying Pan Lake, one of the largest hot water springs in the World. Brilliantly colored microbes cloak the hot rocks. Tiny springs and geysers play. Wonder at the unusual plants that grow on the hot earth of Waimangu, surrounded by forests.

Napier, New Zealand
Two tour options are available here – Take a short coach ride along the coast road through the orchards to Askerne Winery. Enjoy exclusive Boxing Day wine tastings for Coral Expeditions guests only, accompanied by great local ‘Taste of Hawkes Bay’ seasonal platters. En route back to Coral Geographer you take the scenic journey to view the Art Deco style of the suburbs and central city, with a short stop to explore the beautiful streetscapes or do some shopping.

Alternatively, enjoy an excursion to the world’s largest mainland gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers. Embark on a 4WD safari through the coastlines, working farms, native bush, and New Zealand’s largest privately-owned nature reserve, where you can come face to face with over 20,000 gannets and enjoy breathtaking views of the plateau and the open horizon over the deep ocean.

Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand
The ancient river valleys that form the Marlborough Sounds make up 20% of New Zealand’s coastline. The webs of sunken channels are surrounded by forest-cloaked peaks and vineyards, all of which present a breathtaking view from any perspective.

This lush region produces much of New Zealand’s seafood and 80% of its wine. The fertile soil in this region supported the country’s first known Polynesian settlement in the late 1200s AD at Wairau Bar.

After a relaxing day at sea cruising across Cook Strait to the South Island, you anchor at historic Ship Cove. Spend the day exploring Queen Charlotte Sound. Discover the dolphins and seals of the sounds with marine spotting from the Xplorer and enjoy wonderful birdwatching on walks through the Motuara Island birdlife sanctuary. Guided by your expedition team and lecturers, there are options to hike a section of the spectacular Queen Charlotte Track, or shorter walks available. The history of the region is also brought to life with your visit to Ship Cove, where informative storyboards tell of Captain Cook’s time here. Finish the day with a scenic cruise up the length of the sound before you depart for your next destination.

Kaikoura, New Zealand
Ringed by the breathtaking snow-dusted Seaward Kaikoura Ranges, the picturesque town of Kaikoura is renowned as possibly the best whale-watching destination in the world. Kaikoura is one of the very few places it is possible to observe the Sperm Whale! Aboard a small specialized vessel, you'll explore the ocean in search of these amazing mammals, as well as fur seals, dusky and Hector’s dolphins, and other migratory whales.

Kaikoura means ‘to eat crayfish’, and you may have the opportunity to taste the seafood available here. You also have the opportunity to walk through this small town to visit the museums, galleries, and cafes, before joining the expedition team on a guided walk over the peninsula to marvel at the spectacular scenery.

Akaroa, New Zealand
This morning, sail into the long harbor of Akaroa, formed by the breached volcanic crater that makes up the Banks Peninsula. The village of Akaroa has the unique identity of being the only French settlement in New Zealand, and its charming cottages and French street names still carry that identity today.

Ringed by the pastoral rolling hills of the Peninsula, the scenic village was once a bustling whaling outpost. Here, choose between two included excursions: a harbor cruise to spot marine wildlife, or a tour to visit the world’s largest colony of little penguins at Pohatu Bay, with the chance to learn more about the conservation efforts that are protecting them. A variety of short walks are available into the surrounding nature reserves, guided by your expedition team.

Dunedin, New Zealand
Dunedin settled in and around an ancient volcanic crater, is known for its Scottish and Māori heritage. Named after the Scottish Gaelic name for Edinburgh, the city’s heritage buildings, cathedrals, and charming atmosphere share an old-world atmosphere. Dunedin City is regarded as New Zealand’s architectural heritage capital.

The Otago Peninsula is an area of exceptional diversity, and you'll be welcomed with sights of the world’s only mainland breeding colony of northern royal albatross and a colony of the rare yellow-eyed penguin. There is a choice of included excursions with local operators – choose between a coach tour of the Otago Peninsula or Dunedin City Highlights. Alternatively, you can take time to explore the city at your leisure: perhaps visit the famous Speight’s Brewery, art gallery, or New Zealand’s oldest botanic gardens.

Stewart Island, New Zealand
Known in Māori mythology as Te Punga o Te Waka – The Anchor Stone of Maui’s Canoe’ – Stewart Island (Rakiura) is New Zealand’s little-known ‘third island’. Apart from the communities on the island, many people never venture to remote Stewart Island. Nearby Ulva Island is also found within the Rakiura National Park, offering a predator-free environment for rare and endangered birds including South Island Saddleback, Stewart Island Weka, New Zealand Pigeon/Kereru, South Island Kaka, Yellow- and Red-crowned Parakeet (Kakariki), Morepork, Rifleman (New Zealand’s smallest bird), New Zealand Fantail, South Island Tomtit, Stewart Island Robin, Yellowhead (Mohoua), Brown Creeper, Grey Warbler, New Zealand Bellbird and Tui.

Solander Islands (Hautere), New Zealand
The Solander Islands, with the Māori name Hautere, translating to ‘flying wind’, are a trio of uninhabited volcanic islets that lie just beyond New Zealand’s South Island. Aboard the Endeavour, Captain James Cook spotted the islands in early 1770 and was named after a Swedish scientific crew member on board, Daniel Solander. The islands have only been known to be inhabited briefly due to marooning or shipwrecks.

With one-third of the wildlife on the islands being incredibly rare, the bulk of the species includes ferns and orchids. Birds known to call the islands home include fernbirds, snipe, and white-fronted terns with the islands being declared an Important Bird Area as it is a breeding site for common diving petrels and Buller’s albatrosses amassing some 5000 pairs. The area is well-known for whale migration with sightings of extraordinarily large sperm whales.

Fiordland: Dusky, Doubtful & Thompson Sounds, New Zealand
Fiordland National Park, a World Heritage site once described as the Eighth Wonder of the World by author Rudyard Kipling, is characterized by 14 fiords carving through just 215km of coastline.  These fiords were carved by glaciers over thousands of years, and you see waterfalls cascading down the sheer cliffs, rainforest cloaking the steep ridges, and granite peaks reflected in the deep shimmering waters.

These mostly inaccessible and awe-inspiring landscapes were the mysterious source of powerful pounamu (New Zealand Jade), gathered by Māori from the riverbeds and boulders of the South Island – the only place it occurs.  While some European settlers took shelter here, the deep isolation and rugged terrain thwarted all except the toughest from staying. Many of the flora and fauna species have developed in relative isolation, so many of the diverse plants and animals are unique to the area.

Enter Fiordland National Park at dramatic Tamatea / Dusky Sound, and cruise among towering cliffs and sheet granite walls of Facile Harbour, cascading waterfalls, pass some of the 365 small islands, and explore the depths of the inlets in the zodiacs.  Inaccessible by road, Tamatea / Dusky Sound is the largest and most complex of the Fiordland Sounds.  It is also a designated Important Bird Area for the Fiordland Penguins that breed here. You'll also encounter the fur seals of Luncheon Cove.

Early in the morning, a dawn cruise traces the Acheron Passage to Te Puaitaha / Breaksea Sound, surrounded by breathtaking landscapes on all sides as you retrace Cook’s journey. It is easy to imagine the small wooden Endeavour being dwarfed by the steep-sided fiords and encircled by the blanketing silence of the fog-cloaked peaks.

Doubtful Sound / Patea is the deepest and widest fiord, flanked by towering cliffs and adorned by cascading waterfalls.  The stillness and silence of this Fiord is compelling and unforgettable. You'll cruise into Doubtful Sound / Patea, past the outer Seal Islands, Nee Islets, and through ‘the Gut’, before cruising by Blanket Bay and into Te Awa-o-Tū / Thomson Sound. You may spot fur seals lounging on the rocks, pods of dolphins, and the Fiordland penguin. Tonight, enjoy the Captain’s Farewell Drinks.

This afternoon, you enter Milford Sound / Piopiotahi to a world-famous view of Mitre Peak, rising some 1,682 meters. Its triangular silhouette rises opposite beautiful Stirling Falls, falling from the top of a 162m high cliff between two towering ridges into the inky dark water. You may have a chance to feel the spray from the waterfall – according to Māori legend, it makes you ten years younger! The steep overhanging cliffs are awe-inspiring as you cruise to Harrison Cove, where an ancient glacier entered the fiord, and visit Bowen Falls.

Day 13: Milford Sound | Disembark | Queenstown

  • 1 Breakfast
This morning, disembark at Deepwater Basin, Milford Sound at 8:00 am before transferring by coach to Queenstown. The coach arrives in Queenstown at approximately 1:30 pm.

Ship/Hotel

Coral Geographer

Coral Geographer
Coral Geographer Deck

Dates & Prices

My Preferred Start Date

Per person starting at
$7,185
Coral Deck Stateroom
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Coral Deck Stateroom
Located on the Coral Deck, these 17 Sq m staterooms are furnished with a junior King size bed which can be separated into two singles. A wardrobe, desk and armchair are included. A compact en-suite bathroom has a toilet, shower and ample storage. Twin porthole windows give you views of the world outside.
Promenade Deck Stateroom
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Promenade Deck Stateroom
Located on the Promenade Deck, these 17 Sq m staterooms are furnished with a junior King size bed which can be separated into two singles. A wardrobe, desk and armchair are included. A compact en-suite bathroom has a toilet, shower and ample storage. A large picture window gives you wide views of the world outside.
Coral Geographer
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Explorer Deck Balcony Stateroom
These 21.4 Sq m staterooms are comfortably furnished with a junior King size bed which can be separated into two singles. A wardrobe, desk and armchair are included. A compact en-suite bathroom has a toilet, shower and ample storage. Your private balcony has seating for two from which to view the passing coastal vistas. These staterooms are located on the Explorer deck.
Bridge Deck Balcony Suite
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Bridge Deck Balcony Suite
Bridge Deck Balcony Suites are equipped with a lounge area, minibar and personal coffee machine. Along with special King sized beds which can be separated into two singles. An 3.5 sq m private balcony has an outdoor daybed and lounge chair for two.

Notes

Important Fare Information:
Rates are posted based off of the current exchange rates from Australian Dollars. Please contact us for current exchange rates
Included
  • 12 Breakfasts, 11 Lunches, 12 Dinners
  • 12 Nights Accommodations
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Activities as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Access to a 24-7 Emergency line while traveling
  • All entrance fees to National Parks, ports, traditional owner fees and charges imposed by governing authorities
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Selected wines, selected beers and house spirits, juices, and soft drinks served with lunch and dinner
  • Captain’s welcome and farewell events, and open bridge access
  • Use of Xplorer, Zodiacs and kayaks
  • All excursions with our Expedition Team
  • Daily lectures and briefings with Guest Lecturers
  • Use of all onboard facilities, incl. a reference library
  • Your expedition photos captured during the voyage
  • Post-cruise transfers (in most destinations)
  • Snorkelling & SCUBA equipment (SCUBA diving at an additional cost)
  • 24-hour barista-style coffee and tea station
Excluded
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Flight costs (please request a quote)
  • Additional excursions during free time
  • Fuel and transportation surcharges (when applicable)
  • Laundry Service
  • Entry visas/Travel permits
  • Alcoholic drinks including beer and wine outside of lunch and dinner service
  • Internet 
  • Pre-cruise transfers
  • Pre and post cruise flights/charter flights
  • Pre and post cruise accommodation
  • Items of a personal nature such souvenir purchases
  • Optional Extras (in some destinations)
  • Scuba Diving 

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Everything was amazing! The planning with Adventure Life went smoothly. The actual trip was fantastic! One of the best trips I have experienced. The cruise staff members were knowledgeable and attentive. I will be writing more about this on the blog!
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