Embark on an 8-day expedition cruise aboard Le Laperouse with Smithsonian Journeys to explore New Zealand's South Island, home to some of the world's most pristine wildlife and enchanting landscapes. Departing from Wellington, cruise to the magnificent Fiordland National Park, an integral part of Te Wahipounamu, a UNESCO World Heritage area. Dusky Sound, Doubtful Sound, or the better-known Milford Sound are fiords shaped by successive glaciations and bordered by majestic cliffs. Continue sailing to Ulva Island in Paterson Inlet, which is famous as a bird and plant sanctuary and provides an opportunity to spot some of the rarest bird species in the world alongside our team of naturalists and destination experts. Finally, explore Dunedin, along the stunning Otago Peninsula, rich in wildlife and picturesque hinterland.
Visit the ‘Sound of Silence’ and marvel at the secluded serenity
Marvel at glacial fiords 100,000 years in the making
Discover and explore of New Zealand's World Heritage Sites
Marvel at the rich marine life of Kaikoura
Encounter Hector’s Dolphins in Akaroa; one of the world’s rarest and smalle
Crowned with gentle green hills, Wellington Harbor is located in the far south of the North Island. This city offers a charming mix of traditional and modern cultures, bestowing on the New Zealand capital, a unique atmosphere, both friendly and avant-guard. Where some sites, like the large National Te Papa Tongarewa Museum, reflect the city’s Maori past, others, like the many cafés and restaurants, affirm the inhabitants’ incredible lust for life.
Located on the South Island of New Zealand, the small town of Kaikōura stretches between the South Pacific and the snow-capped Kaikōura mountain chain, in the heart of a natural and preserved environment that is home to rich and varied wildlife. The peninsular has spectacular limestone formations, and many marine mammals, such as whales, dolphins, seals, and sea lions, as well as sea birds, can be found near its shores. Initially populated by the original Maori inhabitants for almost a thousand years, the rocky coastlines of Kaikōura then served as an observation post for whalers between the 18th century and the beginning of the 20th century.
Set on the east coast of South Island, Christchurch is New Zealand's second-biggest city. You can soak up its easy-going atmosphere in one of the many parks and gardens that give Christchurch its nickname "the garden city", or dally a while in Cathedral Square to see how the city is transforming itself after the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. Attractions such as the International Antarctic Center and Christchurch Gondola ride are as popular as ever, while pop-up cafes, the Cardboard Cathedral and community art projects showcase the citizens' resilience. The beautiful port of Akaroa, where ships dock, is about 90-minute drive from Christchurch on the Banks Peninsula.
Day 4: At Sea
1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
During your journey at sea, make the most of the many services and activities on board. Treat yourself to a moment of relaxation in the spa or stay in shape in the fitness center. Depending on the season, let yourself be tempted by the swimming pool or a spot of sunbathing. This journey without a port of call will also be an opportunity to enjoy the conferences or shows proposed on board, depending on the activities offered, or to do some shopping in the boutique or to meet the photographers in their dedicated space. As for lovers of the open sea, they will be able to visit the ship’s upper deck to admire the spectacle of the waves and perhaps be lucky enough to observe marine species. A truly enchanted interlude, combining comfort, rest, and entertainment.
Dusky Sound is one of the most isolated fjords in Fiordland National Park. This huge, protected natural zone situated in the south-west quarter of New Zealand’s South Island is listed as UNESCO World Heritage. The sheer cliffs, waterfalls, shimmering lakes and primitive forests here are each more beautiful than the next. These spectacular landscapes sculpted by successive glaciations are a source of endless wonder. In 1773, the British navigator James Cook spent a few weeks at Dusky Sound, as demonstrated by a plaque that can be seen at Astronomer’s Point. During your sailing, observe the richness of the local wildlife: cormorants, seagulls, New Zealand fur seals, but also Fiordland crested penguins, a rare and endemic species. Weather and time permitting you may explore the Sound from your fleet of zodiacs.
Referred to as the "Sound of Silence", there is a secluded serenity that surrounds Doubtful Sound in contrast with the better-known Milford Sound. Both are part of the Fiordland National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Lieutenant James Cook named 'Doubtful Harbor' in 1770 as he was uncertain if it was navigable under sail. Doubtful Sound is the deepest of the fiords with a maximum depth of 421 m. It contains three distinct 'arms' and several outstanding waterfalls in the area from Deep Cove to the open ocean. Spend time navigating around Secretary Island through both Thompson and Doubtful Sounds. Enjoy the spectacular scenery from the outer decks.
Milford Sound fiord is among one of the most beautiful natural sites in New Zealand. So much beauty will quite simply take your breath away. Located on the south-west coast of South Island, in the Fiordland National Park, this sumptuous inlet carved out by glaciers advances over at least 15 kilometers inland, in the Southern Alps. Majestic cliffs seem to surge out of the dark waters, rising several hundred meters high: an abrupt relief from where impressive waterfalls cascade.
Ulva Island (Te Wharawhara) is the largest of 20 islands within Paterson Inlet, Stewart Island, with an area of approx. 270 hectares. The island has never been logged and was declared pest-free in 1997, becoming one of the few predator-free sanctuaries in New Zealand. The island is now a haven for many species of birds and plants that are rare, or have died out, on the mainland of New Zealand. Bird species regularly encountered include the flightless Stewart Island Weka, South Island saddleback, yellowhead, and Stewart Island robin. Ulva Island is not only a bird enthusiast’s paradise, but it is also one of the few offshore islands with a largely undisturbed podocarp forest. Well-maintained tracks offer easy walking for most people providing a unique opportunity to see rare birds and plants at close quarters in a safe environment.
Day 8: Dunedin | Disembark
Disembark this morning after breakfast.
Dunedin is New Zealand's oldest city and is often referred to as the Edinburgh of New Zealand. This city of the south wears its Scottish heritage with pride. The city contains some of the best-preserved Victorian and Edwardian architecture in the Southern Hemisphere. The Silverpeaks hinterland to the North West provides a picturesque backdrop and The Otago Peninsula, which lies within the city boundaries, has internationally renowned wildlife reserves, including the only mainland breeding colony of Northern Royal Albatross.
For full cancellation policy details, please contact us for a quote.
7 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 7 Dinners
6 Nights Accommodations
Accommodations as listed
Ground transportation as listed
Activities as listed
Meals as listed
Access to a 24-7 Emergency line while traveling
Captain’s Welcome Cocktail and Gala Dinner
Gratuities to Onboard Crew
“Open Bar” (pouring wines, house champagne, alcohol except premium brands...list available upon request)
24h Room Service (special selection)
Highly experienced and bilingual (French-English) expedition staff
Park Entry Fees into Protected Areas
Water sports activities (except scuba diving) using the ship’s equipment, when permitted by local authorities and confirmed by ship Master according to safety and sea conditions onsite.
A program of onboard enrichment provided by two Smithsonian Journeys Experts
Transfer from the ship to the airport at the end of the cruise on the morning of disembarkation.
One included shore excursion in each port of call (see “Itinerary” for more information and choice of excursions, if applicable)
Transfers and luggage handling from the airport to the ship on the day of embarkation.
Flight costs (please request a quote)
Fuel and transportation surcharges (when applicable)
Optional Excursions - Ponant allows you to pre-book your excursions approximately six to two months prior to the cruise* departure. Please note that this is subject to change. Please contact us for more details.
Any ground services before and/or after the cruise other than the ones mentioned
Laundry Services, Hair Salon, and à La Carte Spa Treatments
Pre or post cruise programs, overland programs or shore excursions
Beverages other than the ones mentioned in inclusions
CDP recommends that every Traveler has full and adequate travel insurance covering the risks of cancellation, assistance being required, repatriation, damages to and loss of baggage, and medical expenses
We are so glad that we chose Adventure Life. The service is top-notch. Everything is well taken care of and we just have to print the documents and go. Franny even gave us timely updates on possible airport strike.