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Cascading waterfall in the Milford Sound

Expedition to the heart of New Zealand

Auckland - Dunedin - Example 12 Day Cruise aboard Le Soleal
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Embark on a 12-day expedition cruise aboard Le Soléal and unveil the treasures of New Zealand, a land of diverse landscapes and natural wonders. Explore Rotorua's volcanic marvels, discover Gisborne's Maori culture and local history, and indulge in the beauty of Napier's Art Deco influence. Traverse the Marlborough Sounds and Banks Peninsula, experiencing the blend of cultural heritage. Sail through Fiordland National Park, encountering fjords shaped by ancient glaciations. Your journey culminates in Dunedin, marking the end of your exploration of New Zealand's breathtaking scenery and cultural richness.
Coastal beauty of DunedinAuckland, the City of SailsBeautiful view of AkaroaAmazing aerial view of Fiordland National Park on scenic flight from Milford Sound to Queenstown, NZExplore the stunning Milford SoundCascading waterfall in the Milford Sound
Highlights
  • Explore Auckland's forest of masts in the marina and enjoy splendid views from the Sky Tower
  • Discover the exceptional geothermal phenomenon at Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland in Tauranga
  • Discover the untouched and wild beauty of Marlborough Sounds' landscapes and its renowned Sauvignon Blanc
  • Experience the wild beaches and magnificent cliffs of Young Nick's Head in Gisborne
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 | Embark

Auckland is New Zealand’s largest, most populated, and busiest city. Located on an isthmus linking the peninsula of Northland to the expansive North Island, it seems to float between land and sea. It is one of the few cities in the world to have two separate harbors: Manukau Harbor on the Tasman Sea and Waitemata Harbor on the Pacific Ocean. Understand why Auckland is known as "the City of Sails" when you see the forest of masts in the marina. The 328-meter-high Sky Tower offers splendid views of the city. Surrounded by dormant volcanoes such as Mt. Eden, Auckland is noted for its abundant nature and magnificent black-sand beaches. A blend of Maori, European, and Asian cultures gives the city a vibrant atmosphere.

Day 2: Tauranga

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Located north of Rotorua, Tauranga stretches the length of the Bay of Plenty, sheltered from the ocean by the island of Matakana. This coastal city boasts a flourishing economy thanks to its port and is a pleasant and pretty town with a peaceful, relaxed feel. The seafront area is contemporary and lively, dotted with cafés and restaurants. The town center reveals more picturesque charms, while the surrounding area is full of natural delights. Travel to the town of Rotorua to visit the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, a fantastic opportunity to experience an exceptional geothermal phenomenon.

Day 3: Gisborne

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Gisborne, called “Gizzy” by the locals and Teoneroa by the Maori, is located north of a large bay surrounded by fertile hills and long, wild beaches that attract walkers and surfers. At the southern end of the bay, the magnificent cliffs of Young Nick’s Head majestically keep watch over the ocean’s tides. In Ngatapa, a few kilometers north of the city, the Eastwoodhill Arboretum stretches out more than 130 hectares (320 acres) and is home to magnificent exotic and native plants. In the city, you can learn about Maori culture and the local history at the Tairawhiti Museum or enjoy some of the products of this rich farming region, renowned in particular for its Chardonnay.

Day 4: Napier

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
On the east coast of the North Island, south of Hawke’s Bay, you can find Napier. Mostly destroyed by an earthquake in 1931, reviving from its ashes in less than two years, it grew into a magnificent Art Deco-style city, very in-vogue at the time. With its pure lines mixed with traditional Maori designs, the singular New Zealand character of this city will intrigue you. Discover all this extraordinary architectural heritage as you take a stroll through the city. Famous for its vineyards, wine lovers will be able to taste some of the best wines from the region.

Day 5: Marlborough Sounds

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
At the northern end of New Zealand’s South Island, the Marlborough Sounds are a vast network of submerged valleys. These 1,200 km (745 miles) of coastline form a maze of peninsulas and hilly islands, in the curves of which nestle small bays and inlets drowned by the sea at the end of the most recent ice age. This great wine-growing region of New Zealand, highly renowned for its Sauvignon Blanc, boasts a temperate climate and very sunny weather. Discover the untouched and wild beauty of the landscapes in this maritime park. They display an infinite palette of greens and blues, set off by the glints of silver that appear as the sun’s rays dance along the surface of the water.

Day 6: At Sea

  • Ship
  • 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 PONANT photographers in their dedicated space. As for lovers of the open sea, 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.

Day 7: Akaroa

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Located at the tip of a peninsula on the east coast of New Zealand's South Island, Akaroa is a popular resort destination, nestled in a cove formed by volcanic eruptions millions of years ago. In the mid-19th century, French and British settlers competed for control of the area, and the architecture of the present-day town reflects these colonial influences in the galleries, craft shops, and cafés that line its streets. But what draws most people to this remote area is the abundant wildlife. Hector dolphins (the world's smallest), blue penguins, fur seals, and orcas populate the waters of the harbor, and the cliffs surrounding the bay are nesting sites for thousands of birds.

Day 8: At Sea

  • Ship
  • 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 PONANT photographers in their dedicated space. As for lovers of the open sea, 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.

Day 9: Dusky Sound | Doubtful Sound

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Dusky Sound is one of the most isolated fjords in Fiordland National Park. This huge, protected natural zone situated in the southwest quarter of New Zealand’s South Island is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 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 with the 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 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. Your ship will spend time navigating around Secretary Island through both Thompson and Doubtful Sounds. Enjoy the spectacular scenery from the outer decks.

Day 10: Milford Sound

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Milford Sound Fjord is among one of the most beautiful natural sites in New Zealand. So much beauty will take your breath away. Located on the southwest 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.

Day 11: At Sea

  • Ship
  • 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 PONANT photographers in their dedicated space. As for lovers of the open sea, 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.

Day 12: Dunedin | Disembark

  • 1 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 Silver Peaks hinterland to the northwest 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.

Ship/Hotel

Le Soleal

Enjoy a show in the movie theater.
Bar and lounge with a view.
Restaurant aboard the Le Soleal.

Dates & Prices

My Preferred Start Date

Per person starting at
$8,700
Rates are dynamic and fluctuate based on capacity. Contact us for a specific quote.
Superior Stateroom
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Superior Stateroom
The Superior Stateroom has a capacity of up to 3 passengers per cabin, with a king-sized bed or twin beds.
Deluxe Stateroom
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Deluxe Stateroom
The Deluxe Stateroom has a capacity of up to 2 passengers per cabin, with a king-sized bed or twin beds and a private balcony.
Prestige Stateroom
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Prestige Stateroom Deck 4
The Prestige Stateroom on Deck 4 has a capacity of up to 2 passengers per cabin, with a king-sized bed or twin beds and a private balcony.
Prestige Stateroom
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Prestige Stateroom Deck 5
The Prestige Stateroom on Deck 5 has a capacity of up to 2 passengers per cabin, with a king-sized bed or twin beds and a private balcony.
Prestige Stateroom
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Prestige Stateroom Deck 6
The Prestige Stateroom on Deck 6 has a capacity of up to 2 passengers per cabin, with a king-sized bed or twin beds and a private balcony.
Deluxe Suite
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Deluxe Suite
The Deluxe Suite has a capacity of up to 2 passengers per cabin, with a king-sized bed or twin beds and a private balcony.
Prestige Suite
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Prestige Suite Deck 5
The Prestige Suite on Deck 5 has a capacity of up to 4 passengers per cabin, with a king-sized bed or twin beds and an 8m² private balcony.
Prestige Suite
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Prestige Suite Deck 6
The Prestige Suite on Deck 6 has a capacity of up to 4 passengers per cabin, with a king-sized bed or twin beds and an 8m² private balcony.
Owner's Suite
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Owner Suite
The Owner's suite is situated on Deck 6 with a capacity up to 2 passengers per cabin. With a king-sized bed, it has been decorated by French interior designers and provides you with a breathtaking panoramic sea view.

Notes

Please note:
Fares are based on double occupancy and are capacity controlled. Rates may increase at any time as the ship sells out and are subject to change without notice.

Discounts are available for children sharing a cabin with two adults and third adult passengers in select cabin categories. Please contact us for details.

Single travelers can opt for a solo cabin - supplements start at 50%.
Included
  • 11 Breakfasts, 10 Lunches, 11 Dinners
  • 11 Nights Accommodations
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Activities as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Access to a 24-7 Emergency line while traveling
  • Port Fees
  • Unlimited Wifi
  • Onboard Entertainment 
  • 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)
  • English-Speaking Lecturer 
  • 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. 
Excluded
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Flight costs (please request a quote)
  • Fuel and transportation surcharges (when applicable)
  • Visa Fees
  • 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
  • Luggage Handling 
  • 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

Map

When to Go

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
Good to ideal period to travel, and many people choose to visit at this time.

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