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NEW ZEALAND'S EAST COAST
Auckland to Milford Sound
Explore over 7,000km of New Zealand’s spectacular coastline while experiencing vibrant Māori culture and discovering wildlife thriving in their natural habitats. From Auckland, this voyage takes you to the pastoral wine country of Hawke’s Bay which gives way to the wild coastlines of the South Island, where our journey continues to the deep and quiet fiords of Murihiku (Southland). 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. Return to your ship after the day’s excursions to sample the country’s famed produce and wine. There is no better way to experience New Zealand than by small ship expedition.
Walk through the lush Waimangu Volcanic Valley, the world’s youngest geothermal valley
Stroll through the quiet forests of Ulva Island to spot New Zealand’s iconic birds, including the Stewart Island Weka, South Island Saddleback, Yellow-and Red-crowned Parakeet (Kakariki) and Rifleman (New Zealand’s smallest bird)
Experience the vibrant energy and stories of Maori culture, with a cultural greeting at Hauiti Marae
Discover the unique character of east coast towns, from the French-influenced Akaroa to Dunedin’s Scottish heritage and Napier’s distinctive art deco character
Taste the renowned wines produced in the Hawke’s Bay and Marlborough regions on our specially curated New Zealand wine list
Encounter many species of endemic birds and marine wildlife, including the Fiordland crested penguin, Yellow-eyed penguin, little penguin and New Zealand fur seal in Southland, the Sperm Whale in Kaikoura, and the dusky dolphin and Hector’s dolphin at Akaroa
Enjoy walks through spectacular scenery in the Marlborough Sounds and the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway
Explore four of Fiordland’s most beautiful sounds – the astonishing and rarely visited Dusky and Doubtful Sounds, Thompson Sound, and otherworldly Milford Sound. Observe the wildlife, discover the history, and be immersed in the stillness of unforgettable Southland
(order of the daily visits depends your departure destination)
DAY 1: AUCKLAND
After a pre-cruise SailSAFE check-in, make your way to Auckland’s Queens Wharf to board at 4:00pm. We depart the ‘city of sails’ at 5:00pm to make our way into the Hauraki Gulf; with its string of islands guarding the harbour, 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.
TAURANGA & WAIMANGU VALLEY
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 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 coloured 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.
GISBORNE - CORAL ADVENTURER DEPARTURE ONLY
Gisborne is rich in historical significance. Captain Cook first came ashore in New Zealand here in 1769, and the European settlers met with the local Maori tribes on the banks of the Tūranganui River. Old Maori traditions also record this region, specifically Titirangi Hill as the point of arrival for the first Maori canoe to arrive in the area. Here, we will venture to the small township of Tolaga Bay, where we will be welcomed at the Hauiti Marae. Enjoy a traditional Maori welcome, with a guided viewing of the marae. Have the opportunity to visit the historic Tolaga Bay wharf before returning to Gisborne.
This morning, cruise into Hawke’s Bay and anchor at the city of Napier, which contains one of the largest concentrations of art deco architecture in the world. In 1931 Napier was destroyed by an earthquake that shook Hawke’s Bay for more than 3 minutes, flattening the city. Rebuilding began, and the new buildings reflected the architectural styles of the times – stripped classical, Spanish mission and art deco. Few other places in the world have such a deep identity with these architectural styles, and Napier’s stylish shops and fabulous restaurants and bars echo the classic atmosphere.
Napier is surrounded by the award-winning wineries of the Hawke’s Bay Region, one of the world’s great wine regions. With a temperate maritime climate and plentiful sunshine, the region is similar to Bordeaux, France, and produces a wide range of different styles but is best known for red blends and Chardonnay.
Enjoy an excursion to the world’s largest mainland gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers, with spectacular views of this dramatic coastline.
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, we 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 Motuara Island birdlife sanctuary. Guided by our expedition team and lecturers, there will be 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 our 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 we depart for our next destination.
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 specialised vessel, we will 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 will also have the opportunity 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.
This morning, sail into the long harbour 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 harbour 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 our expedition team.
Dunedin, settled in and around an ancient volcanic crater, is known for its Scottish and Maori 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 we will 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 will be 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 - CORAL GEOGRAPHER DEPARTURE ONLY
Known in Maori 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) - CORAL ADVENTURER DEPARTURE ONLY
The Solander Islands, with the Maori 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 shipwreck.
With one third of the wildlife on the islands being incredibly rare, the bulk of the species include 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 whale migration with sightings of extraordinarily large sperm whales.
FIORDLAND: DUSKY, DOUBTFUL & THOMPSON SOUNDS
Fiordland National Park, a World Heritage site once described as the Eighth Wonder of the World by author Rudyard Kipling, is characterised by 14 fiords carving through just 215km of coastline. These fiords were carved by glaciers over thousands of years, and you will 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 Maori 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. We will also encounter the fur seals of Luncheon Cove.
Early in the morning, a dawn cruise traces Acheron Passage to Te Puaitaha/Breaksea Sound, surrounded by breathtaking landscapes on all sides as we 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. We will cruise into Doubtful Sound / Patea, and 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, we enter Milford Sound / Piopiotahi to a world-famous view of Mitre Peak, rising some 1,682 metres. 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 Maori legend, it will make you ten years younger! The steep overhanging cliffs are awe-inspiring as we cruise to Harrison Cove, where an ancient glacier entered the fiord, and visit Bowen Falls.
DAY 13: MILFORD SOUND & QUEENSTOWN
This morning, disembark at Deepwater Basin, Milford Sound at 8:00am before transferring by coach to Queenstown. The coach arrives in Queenstown at approximately 1:30pm.
This itinerary is an indication of the destinations we visit and activities on offer. Throughout the expedition we may make changes to the itinerary as necessary to maximise your expeditionary experience. Allowances may be made for seasonal variations, weather, tidal conditions, and any other event that may affect the operation of the vessel. Coral Expeditions suggests that you do not arrive on the day of embarkation or depart on the day of disembarkation due to any changes that may occur in scheduling.
From AUD 10,720.00 per person (twin / double share)
23 December 2023
All excursions with our Expedition Team
Use of Xplorer, Zodiacs and Kayaks
Daily lectures and briefings with Guest Lecturers
All meals, chef-prepared on board
Captain’s welcome and farewell events, and open bridge access
Selected wines, selected beers and house spirits, juices, and soft drinks served with lunch and dinner
24-hour barista-style coffee and selection of teas
All entrance fees to National Parks, ports, traditional owner fees and charges imposed by governing authorities
Tips and gratuities
Use of all onboard facilities, incl. a reference library
Your expedition photos captured during the voyage
Post-cruise transfers (in most destinations)
Pre and post cruise flights/charter flights
Pre and post cruise accommodation
Entry visas & travel permits for the country you are traveling to/from
Alcoholic drinks (including beer and wine) outside of lunch and dinner service
Internet services (available at a cost)
Laundry service (available at a cost)
Items of a personal nature such souvenir purchases
Optional Extras (in some destinations)
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