Coastal mountain rangesseen from a small expedition ship in New Zealand on a sunny day.
Person walking along the white sand beach next to the turquoise ocean water and the green cliffs on a shore excursion in New Zealand.
Several expedition cruise guests on the bow of their ship in New Zealand photographing the tall green coastal mountains with their peaks in the clouds.
white island new zealand illuminated by the sun on a mostly cloudy day with calm water in the foreground
Up-close of a brown flightless Weka bird, endemic to New Zealand walking on green grass.
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Asia / Pacific New Zealand Cruise

New Zealand by Sea: East Coast Expedition

With stunning coastal landscapes, small seaside provinces and an abundance of charismatic marine life, New Zealand is uniquely suited to be explored on a small ship expedition. On this 9- or 13- or 15-day cruise aboard the 120-guest Coral Geographer, experience New Zealand from a very different perspective. The longer itinerary out of Auckland offers a comprehensive trip to both the North and the South Islands, while the shorter route departing Milford Sound focuses on the South Island.

With over 4,350 miles of stunning coastline to be explored, enjoy cruising the sheltered sounds, volcanic islands and marine reserves and arrive in the dramatic beauty of Fiordland. Expert guides and local rangers will introduce you to wildlife including dolphins, seals, kiwis and keas. Visit remote areas including Marlborough Sounds, Fiordland and Stewart Island. Experience the grandeur and remote beauty of Fiordland National Park. Visit White Island and enjoy a guided walk to the crater of this active volcano. Encounter the Maori culture and learn about New Zealand’s history and landscape.

SCUBA dive (additional cost) with highly qualified, experienced and popular Dive Instructors who provide an outstanding service to all guests. Dive Instructors patiently guide those who have never dived before through a resort dive program and expertly guide certified open-water divers to quality dive sites. A comprehensive range of dive equipment, including wet suits, is provided.

In addition to the main 13-day itinerary, a shorter 9-day itinerary focuses on New Zealand’s South Island. A longer 15-day itinerary explores the Fiordlands before leaving the South Island to explore New Zealand’s Subantarctic UNESCO World Heritage islands, including the Snares, Auckland Islands, Campbell Islands, Antipodes and Bounty Islands, featuring incredibly rare birdlife and select penguins.

Aboard a small expedition ship, avoid well-trodden tourist trails and access remote and pristine wilderness areas. Get up close to wildlife with the expedition team. Wake up to new vistas each day and relax in the comfort of life on board Coral Geographer, featuring a uniquely Australian atmosphere and particular attention to food and wine. Activities are made efficient by the ship’s onboard Zodiacs and an Xplorer tenders. 

Awe-inspiring landscapes, indigenous Maori culture, and an abundance of unique wildlife all combine to make New Zealand a remarkable expedition destination, and these two different itineraries showcase remote attractions best accessed by small ship.

Read on for details about this trip, or learn more about AdventureSmith’s New Zealand cruises.



Itinerary

East Coast Expedition Itinerary

The 13-day New Zealand by Sea: East Coast Expedition cruise begins in Auckland on New Zealand’s northern island and cruises southbound along both island’s east coasts to end in Queenstown on New Zealand’s southern island. 

New Zealand by Sea route map from Auckland to Queenstown.
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Day 1
Embark Auckland, New Zealand

Make your way to Auckland Harbour to board Coral Discoverer at 4:00 pm. The ship departs from the ‘city of sails’ at 5:00pm to make its way into the Hauraki Gulf, where a string of islands guard 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 fellow passengers.

Accommodations

Coral Geographer

Meals

dinner

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Day 2
Tauranga & Waimangu

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 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.

Accommodations

Coral Geographer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 3
Gisborne

Gisborne is rich in historical significance. It is where the first Polynesian canoes landed, where Captain Cook first came ashore from the Endeavour and where Maori and European settlers first encountered each other. Venture to a small marae (Maori meeting place) to be treated to a traditional Maori welcome and the Kapa Haka cultural show. After the show, enjoy the opportunity to explore Gisborne; undertake a self-guided journey through the city’s gorgeous gardens, tour wineries or sample first-rate produce.

Accommodations

Coral Geographer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 4
Napier

This morning, cruise into Hawke’s Bay, home to one of the purest art deco cities in the world, Napier.  Explore the city at your leisure. In 1931 Napier was destroyed by an earthquake that shook Hawke’s Bay for more than three minutes, flattening the city. Rebuilding began almost instantly and modern buildings reflected the architectural styles of the times – stripped classical, Spanish mission and art deco. Napier is also known for its award-winning red wines and is home to one of the world’s largest mainland gannet colonies at Cape Kidnappers (optional guided tours at extra cost).

Accommodations

Coral Geographer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Days 5 - 6
Marlborough Sounds

Explore the spectacular waterways of Marlborough Sounds including the fjord-like Queen Charlotte Sound. Follow the path of Captain Cook’s exploratory voyages, including a stop at Ships Cove. Enjoy a considerable number of interpreted explorations on the Xplorer and Zodiac vessels, guided by the expedition team and guest lecturers. During these two days, visit Moturoa Island with its plentiful native bird life, and other remote coastal towns and locations often only accessible by boat.

Accommodations

Coral Geographer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 7
Kaikoura

The picturesque town of Kaikoura is located between rugged mountain ranges and the Pacific Ocean. 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 giant sperm whale. Aboard a small specialized vessel, explore the ocean in search of the giant sperm whale and hope to see more amazing mammals like fur seals, other migratory whales and dolphins.

Accommodations

Coral Geographer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 8
Akaroa

Today, sail into the Banks Peninsula, named for botanist Joseph Banks, to discover the history of Akaroa. This scenic village, built on the edge of a sunken volcanic crater, was once a bustling French colonized whaling community. A leisurely walk through the village provides time to discover its obscure French history, friendly cafes and great craft stores. Optional shore excursions are offered at Akaroa, such as swimming with the smallest and rarest dolphin – the Hector’s dolphin.

Accommodations

Coral Geographer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 9
Dunedin

Before docking in Dunedin, be welcomed to the Otago Peninsula with sights of the world’s only mainland breeding colony of northern royal albatross and a colony of the world’s rarest penguin, the yellow-eyed penguin and various other unique species. Dunedin City is regarded as New Zealand’s architectural heritage capital. Take time to explore all that the city has to offer including the Victorian and Edwardian structures, art galleries and botanical gardens.

Accommodations

Coral Geographer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 10
Stewart & Ulva Islands

Stewart Island (Rakiura) is New Zealand’s little known third island. There is a very small settlement of people on the island, but most ‘mainland’ New Zealanders have never ventured to the curious wild land. Ulva Island is also found within the Rakiura National Park, offering a predator-free environment for rare and endangered birds including South Island saddleback, yellowhead, rifleman, Stewart Island robin and the iconic kiwi; the Stewart Island brown kiwi birds are known to venture out in daylight. On Ulva Island, take a guided walk to encounter this vast array of bird life and hopefully spot a few fur seals lazing on the shore during the tour. An optional tour can be taken ashore Stewart Island at additional cost.

Accommodations

Coral Geographer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 11
Dusky Sound

Enter the Fiordland National Park at the dramatic Dusky Sound and be in awe of the sheer rugged beauty of the Fiordland. Cruise among towering cliffs and cascading waterfalls, pass some of the 365 small islands and explore the depths of the inlets in the Zodiacs. Later in the evening the ship heads north and drops anchor at the beautiful Doubtful Sound.

Accommodations

Coral Geographer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 12
Doubtful Sound & Thompson Sound

Awake to the magnificent scenery of Doubtful Sound. Today, explore the Fiordland’s most spectacular and deepest waterway. Board the Xplorer and cruise through a maze of hidden channels home to dolphins, seals and penguins. Sail from Doubtful Sound into Thompson Sound to discover further scenes of breathtaking wilderness in these ancient glacial fiords. Tonight, enjoy the captain’s farewell dinner while the ship steams to the last port of call.

Accommodations

Coral Geographer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 13
Disembark Milford Sound to Queenstown, New Zealand

Cruise the length of Milford Sound and view iconic Mitre Peak, towering some 1,600 feet above the glassy waters. Say goodbye to the crew and fellow passengers and disembark at 8:00am before transferring by coach to Queenstown. The coach arrives in Queenstown at approximately 1:30pm.

Accommodations

n/a

Meals

breakfast

Read More
Details
Inclusions, Terms & Notes

Included

Captain’s welcome and farewell drinks; showcase wines, selected beers, spirits, juices and soft drinks with lunch and dinner service; daily lectures and briefings, slide/film presentations, and other group activities; guided adventure touring and walks; group transfers during the cruise; all meals; morning and afternoon teas; guided tours on purpose built expedition vessel Xplorer; use of snorkeling equipment, including masks, snorkel and fins; 24 hour tea and coffee station; coach transfer from Milford Sound to Queenstown; port taxes and port charges imposed by government authorities; choice of local operator excursions at some locations.

Exclusions

Pre and post flights; some transfers and accommodation; entry VISA and travel permits; fuel surcharges if applicable; personal items such as telephone, facsimile, internet charges, laundry, additional bar charges; travel insurance of any kind; SCUBA diving charges where applicable (contact your Adventure Specialist for pricing).

Payment & Cancellation

In order to confirm this trip, a deposit of 20% is required per person at time of booking. The balance of the trip price is due 90 days before the departure date. Special holiday payment and cancellation terms may apply. Guests who must cancel their trip for any reason must do so in writing. A name change/transfer of the booking to another person is considered a cancellation and cancellation penalties will apply. An AUD200.00 per person fee may be charged for any amendments not requiring a date change after booking is confirmed. There is an AUD500.00 per person fee if a date change is made more than 90 days before departure. Standard cancellations are subject to the following per-person penalties, based on number of days prior to departure:
Up to 90 days – 100% of deposit
89 to 60 days – 50% of total trip cost
59 to 0 days – 100% of total trip cost

Terms & Conditions

This trip is subject to AdventureSmith Explorations Terms and Conditions. Please read this information carefully and call us if you have any questions. A Traveler Information Form, which includes a release of liability, must be completed and signed by all travelers. Your Adventure Specialist will send you a unique link to complete this form along with a packing list and extensive pre-departure and travel insurance information upon booking confirmation.

Arrival & Departure

The main, East Coast Expedition cruise begins in Auckland, New Zealand (AKL), and ends in Queenstown, New Zealand (ZQN). We highly recommend arriving one day prior to your trip start date in case of any flight delay, cancellation or lost luggage issues. Plan flights to arrive to Auckland by 12:00pm noon on day 1 of the itinerary for a 4:00pm embarkation. Plan flights to depart Queenstown no earlier than 2:00pm on day 13. If you would like assistance with international flights, please visit our Booking Flights resource page.

Activities

Whether you are looking for light activity options or more challenging outdoor pursuits, the ship’s crew can tailor most excursions to suit your skill level. Adventure activities may include hiking, kayaking, inflatable boat/skiff excursions, land treks, whale watching, wildlife observation, diving (added cost), city exploration and cultural visits.

Room Configuration

Limited double occupancy cabins for solo use may be available at a sole use rate; ask your Adventure Smith Specialist for details. Bookings made via the solo use rate are confirmed, with the option to request a cabin share; share requests made without a solo use rate booking are not guaranteed unless a match is found, accepted by both travelers and confirmed by the reservations team.

If you would like to share accommodation with another guest of the same gender, we will be happy to take your details and try to connect you with a suitable match. This program allows you to pay the per person double-occupancy rate if a match is found. Contact AdventureSmith for further details and availability.

Families & Children

Kids 12 years and older are welcomed aboard all departure dates; exceptions for children 11 years and under may be allowed with special pre-approval.

Travel Insurance

Protect your travel investment with insurance. Our partners at Travelex Insurance offer a variety of plans and policies to fit every trip and budget. Coverage for a pre-existing medical condition is also available if you purchase the Travel Select plan within 15 days of the initial trip payment; refer to plan details. Learn more about travel insurance or get a free quote.

As a condition of travel, guests must provide evidence of travel insurance with medical evacuation coverage OR complete a credit card authorization form for expenses incurred during a medical evacuation. Proof of travel insurance with medical evacuation coverage OR a completed authorization form must be provided prior to boarding.

Itinerary Notes

Use the itinerary as a guide only. Itineraries may be altered due to weather, wildlife, national park regulation or at the captain’s discretion. The ability to be flexible makes this type of small ship cruising unique.

South Coast to Fiordland Expedition Itinerary

The 9-day New Zealand by Sea: South Coast to Fiordland cruise begins in Wellington and cruises southbound along New Zealand’s south island’s east coast to end in Queenstown via Milford Sound. 

New Zealand By Sea: Southern Coast route map from Wellington to Queenstown.
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Days 1 - 2
Arrive Wellington, New Zealand & Embark to Marlborough Sound

Board the ship in Wellington at 7:30am for a 9:00am departure. Take the morning to settle in while cruising the Cook Strait, ahead of arriving to the Marlborough Sounds. 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.

Here, cruise the fiord-like Queen Charlotte Sound (Totaranui). Follow the path of Captain Cook’s exploratory voyages, including a stop at Cook’s favorite New Zealand base, Ship Cove, where he spent a total of 120 days. Discover the dolphins and seals of the sounds with marine spotting from the Xplorer tender vessel and enjoy wonderful birdwatching on walks through Motuara Island birdlife sanctuary. Guided by the 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 a visit to Ship Cove.

Accommodations

Coral Geographer

Meals

lunch, dinner

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Day 3
Kaikoura

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, 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 there may be the opportunity to taste the seafood available here. Also have the opportunity to walk through this small town and visit the museums, galleries and cafes before joining the expedition team on a guided walk over the peninsula to marvel at the spectacular scenery.

Accommodations

Coral Geographer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 4
Akaroa

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 one of two included excursionsa harbor cruise with a local operator to spot marine wildlife or a visit to a traditional hill country farm operated by 7th generation descendants of the earliest French Settlers on Banks Peninsula. Also enjoy free time to explore the scenic village and visit cafes inspired by French cuisine. A variety of short walks are available into the surrounding nature reserves, such as a walk to Newton’s Waterfall, guided by the expedition team.

Accommodations

Coral Geographer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 5
Dunedin

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 and cathedrals share a charming old-world atmosphere. Dunedin City is regarded as New Zealand’s architectural heritage capital.

The Otago Peninsula is an area of exceptional diversity, and as the ship enters the long Otago Harbour, be welcomed with sights of the world’s only mainland breeding colony of northern royal albatross and a colony of yellow-eyed penguinthe world’s rarest penguinas well as Hookers sea lions and various other unique species.

Enjoy time to explore the city at leisure: perhaps visit the famous Speight’s Brewery, art gallery, museum and New Zealand’s oldest botanic gardens. There will also be a choice of included excursions with local operatorschoose between a coach tour of the Otago Peninsula’s most scenic beaches and Dunedin’s highlights, or a railway journey through the rugged and spectacular Taieri River Gorge.

Accommodations

Coral Geographer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Days 6 - 7
Stewart & Ulva Islands

Known in Maori mythology as Te Punga o Te WakaThe Anchor Stone of Maui’s CanoeStewart 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, kakapo, weka, yellowhead, rifleman, Stewart Island Robin and the iconic kiwi; the Stewart Island Brown Kiwi birds are known to venture out in daylight.

On Ulva Island, a guided walk will provide the opportunity to spot a vast array of birdlife and hopefully a few fur seals lazing on the shore. There will be free time to explore the village of Oban. And a guided Xplorer tender vessel cruise to Prices Point Whaling Station will unveil the history of the region. For the fit, there will be an opportunity to walk a section of the Iconic Rakiura Track, before heading off to Bluff for a brief stop ahead of the cruise to Fiordland.

Accommodations

Coral Geographer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 8
Fiordland: Dusky, Doubtful & Thomson Sounds

Fiordland National Park, a World Heritage site once described as the Eighth Wonder of the World, is characterized by 14 fiords carving through just about 135 miles of coastline. These fiords were carved by glaciers over thousands of years and feature waterfalls cascading down sheer cliffs, rainforest cloaking steep ridges and granite peaks reflected in 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 Islandthe 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 sheer granite walls of Facile Harbor. Pass some of the 365 small islands and explore the depths of the inlets in 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.

Discover the fur seals of Luncheon Cove and cruise Astronomer’s PointCaptain Cook’s base when exploring Fiordland. Possibly visit the site where the scientific team from HMB Endeavour set up their equipment. In the afternoon, trace Acheron Passage to Breaksea Sound, surrounded by breathtaking landscapes on all sides as the ship retraces 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. Cruise into Doubtful Sound/Patea and past the outer Seal Islands, Nee Islets and through “the Gut,” before cruising by Blanket Bay. Spot for fur seals lounging on the rocks, pods of dolphins and the Fiordland penguin. Tonight, enjoy the captain’s farewell drinks.

Accommodations

Coral Geographer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 9
Disembark Milford Sound to Queenstown, New Zealand & Depart

This morning at dawn, enter Milford Sound/Piopiotahi to a world-famous view of Mitre Peak, rising over 5,500 feet. Its triangular silhouette rises opposite beautiful Stirling Falls, falling from the top of an over-500-foot-high cliff between two towering ridges into the inky dark water. Possibly feel the spray from the waterfallaccording to Maori legend, it will make you ten years younger! The steep overhanging cliffs are awe-inspiring while cruising to Harrison Cove, where an ancient glacier entered the fiord, and visit Bowen Falls before disembarking. Say goodbye and disembark at 10:00am before transferring by coach to Queenstown. The coach arrives in Queenstown at approximately 3:30pm.

Accommodations

n/a

Meals

breakfast

Read More
Details
Inclusions, Terms & Notes

Included

Captain’s welcome and farewell drinks; showcase wines, selected beers, juices, spirits and soft drinks with lunch and dinner service; daily lectures and briefings, slide/film presentations, and other group activities; guided adventure touring and walks; group transfers during the cruise; all meals; morning and afternoon teas; guided tours on purpose built expedition vessel Xplorer; use of snorkeling equipment, including masks, snorkel and fins; 24 hour tea and coffee station; coach transfer from Queenstown to Milford Sound; port taxes and port charges imposed by government authorities; choice of local operator excursions at some locations.

Exclusions

Pre and post flights; some transfers and accommodation; entry VISA and travel permits; fuel surcharges if applicable; personal items such as telephone, facsimile, internet charges, laundry, additional bar charges; travel insurance of any kind; SCUBA diving charges where applicable (contact your Adventure Specialist for pricing).

Payment & Cancellation

In order to confirm this trip, a deposit of 20% is required per person at time of booking. The balance of the trip price is due 90 days before the departure date. Special holiday payment and cancellation terms may apply. Guests who must cancel their trip for any reason must do so in writing. A name change/transfer of the booking to another person is considered a cancellation and cancellation penalties will apply. An AUD200.00 per person fee may be charged for any amendments not requiring a date change after booking is confirmed. There is an AUD500.00 per person fee if a date change is made more than 90 days before departure. Standard cancellations are subject to the following per-person penalties, based on number of days prior to departure:
Up to 90 days – 100% of deposit
89 to 60 days – 50% of total trip cost
59 to 0 days – 100% of total trip cost

Terms & Conditions

This trip is subject to AdventureSmith Explorations Terms and Conditions. Please read this information carefully and call us if you have any questions. A Traveler Information Form, which includes a release of liability, must be completed and signed by all travelers. Your Adventure Specialist will send you a unique link to complete this form along with a packing list and extensive pre-departure and travel insurance information upon booking confirmation.

Arrival & Departure

The alternative, South Coast to Fiordland Expedition cruise begins in Wellington, New Zealand (WLG), and ends in Queenstown, New Zealand (ZQN) with an included overland transfer from Milford Sound. Guests must arrive in Wellington one day prior to departure. Plan flights to depart Queenstown no earlier than 11:00am on day 9. If you would like assistance with international flights, please visit our Booking Flights resource page.

Activities

Whether you are looking for light activity options or more challenging outdoor pursuits, the ship’s crew can tailor most excursions to suit your skill level. Adventure activities may include hiking, kayaking, inflatable boat/skiff excursions, land treks, whale watching, wildlife observation, diving (added cost), city exploration and cultural visits.

Room Configuration

Limited double occupancy cabins for solo use may be available at a sole use rate; ask your Adventure Smith Specialist for details. Bookings made via the solo use rate are confirmed, with the option to request a cabin share; share requests made without a solo use rate booking are not guaranteed unless a match is found, accepted by both travelers and confirmed by the reservations team.

If you would like to share accommodation with another guest of the same gender, we will be happy to take your details and try to connect you with a suitable match. This program allows you to pay the per person double-occupancy rate if a match is found. Contact AdventureSmith for further details and availability.

Families & Children

Kids 12 years and older are welcomed aboard all departure dates; exceptions for children 11 years and under may be allowed with special pre-approval.

Travel Insurance

Protect your travel investment with insurance. Our partners at Travelex Insurance offer a variety of plans and policies to fit every trip and budget. Coverage for a pre-existing medical condition is also available if you purchase the Travel Select plan within 15 days of the initial trip payment; refer to plan details. Learn more about travel insurance or get a free quote.

As a condition of travel, guests must provide evidence of travel insurance with medical evacuation coverage OR complete a credit card authorization form for expenses incurred during a medical evacuation. Proof of travel insurance with medical evacuation coverage OR a completed authorization form must be provided prior to boarding.

Itinerary Notes

Use the itinerary as a guide only. Itineraries may be altered due to weather, wildlife, national park regulation or at the captain’s discretion. The ability to be flexible makes this type of small ship cruising unique.

Expedition to the Albatross Latitudes Itinerary

The 15-day Subantarctic & Chatham Islands Expedition cruise begins in Queenstown with an included transfer to embark Milford Sound. Cruise Fiordland National Park then head northbound along New Zealand’s Subantarctic Islands (offshore of New Zealand’s South Island) to end in Wellington. 

Route map of Subantarctic & Chatham Islands Expedition cruise from Queenstown to Wellington, New Zealand, with possible visits to the Islands of Chatham, Bounty, Antipodes, Campbell, Auckland, Snares, Stewart & Ulva, plus Fiordland National Park.
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Day 1
Arrive Queenstown, New Zealand to Milford Sound & Embark

Take an included pre-cruise transfer from Queenstown to Milford Sound. Board the ship at Deepwater Basin, Milford Sound at 2:00pm for 3:00pm departure. This afternoon, cruise spectacular Milford Sound/Piopiotahi, beneath world-famous Mitre Peak, rising over 5,500 feet. Its triangular silhouette rises opposite beautiful Stirling Falls, falling from the top of an over-500-foot-high cliff between two towering ridges into the inky dark water. Possibly feel the spray from the waterfallaccording to Maori legend, it will make you ten years younger! The steep overhanging cliffs are awe-inspiring and if weather permits, see the late sunset lighting the peaks surrounding the sound.

Accommodations

Coral Geographer

Meals

lunch, dinner

Read More
Days 2 - 14
Exploration of the Subantarctic & Chatham Islands

Throughout this expedition, the Master and expedition team may make changes to the itinerary around weather conditions and other factors to maximize the expeditionary experience. Below is a selection of the key destinations that the ship may visit.

Doubtful Sound & Dusky Sound

Fiordland National Park, a World Heritage site once described as the Eighth Wonder of the World, is characterized by 14 fiords carving through just about 135 miles of coastline. These fiords were carved by glaciers over thousands of years and feature waterfalls cascading down sheer cliffs, rainforest cloaking steep ridges and granite peaks reflected in 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.

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. Cruise into Doubtful Sound/Patea and past the outer Seal Islands, Nee Islets and through “the Gut,” before cruising by Blanket Bay. Spot for fur seals lounging on the rocks, pods of dolphins and the Fiordland penguin.

Trace Acheron Passage to Te Puaitaha/Breaksea Sound, surrounded by breathtaking landscapes on all sides, while retracing 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.

Enter dramatic Tamatea/Dusky Sound and cruise among towering cliffs and sheer granite walls of Facile Harbor. Pass some of the 365 small islands and explore the depths of the inlets in 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. Encounter the fur seals of Luncheon Cove here, as well.

Stewart & Ulva Islands

Known in Maori mythology as Te Punga o Te WakaThe Anchor Stone of Maui’s CanoeStewart 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, kakapo, weka, yellowhead, rifleman, Stewart Island Robin and the iconic kiwi; the Stewart Island Brown Kiwi birds are known to venture out in daylight.

On Ulva Island, a guided walk will provide the opportunity to spot a vast array of birdlife and hopefully a few fur seals lazing on the shore. There will be free time to explore the village of Oban. And a guided Xplorer tender vessel cruise to Prices Point Whaling Station will unveil the history of the region. For the fit, there will be an opportunity to walk a section of the Iconic Rakiura Track, before heading off to Bluff for a brief stop ahead of the cruise to Fiordland.

Snares Islands/Tini Heke

This morning, sail into the first subantarctic anchorage at the Snares Islands. This small group of islands, also known as Tini Heke, are the most northern of New Zealand’s subantarctic islands and are mostly bordered by steep cliffs except on the eastern side. They are one of the most pristine places in New Zealand, as they were unaffected by whaling and sealing in the 19th century. These islands are protected as part of the Subantarctic Island World Heritage Site and landing ashore is prohibited.

If weather permits, cruise along the sheltered eastern side of the island to observe the seabirds that breed on the forested North East Island. The island is forested by mega herbs, some of which are rare and unique, such as the large tree daisy and stilbocarpa, and is home to many endemic bird species, including the Snares Penguin, which has more than 100 colonies on the islands. The sooty shearwater nests here in enormous numbers and are joined by Buller’s Albatross, the mottled petrel and the brown skua. The exposed coastlines also provide breeding and resting area for New Zealand fur seals and New Zealand sea lions.

Auckland Islands/Moto Maha

Lying roughly 225 miles south of Stewart Island, the Auckland Islands is a group of around eight rugged islands, positioned close to each other and separated by narrow sea channels. Dominated by the remains of two 12-million-year old volcanoes, the islands are known for their steep cliffs and towering mountains.

Arrival here means crossing an often-tempestuous sea, but when the ship reaches the Auckland Islands, she can drop anchor in the lee of the islands. The weather here is usually damp and overcast, without being very cold. Evidence exists of Polynesian voyagers having settled here as early as the 13th century. During the sealing era, many ships were wrecked in this region and relics of this period remain, including the ruins of huts and gravestones.

These islands are beautiful and striking, with cliffs rising from the sea and slopes blooming with southern rata and mega herbs. These unusual forests are home to many unique birds and shelter fascinating stories of shipwrecked seamen and wartime Coastwatchers. Go ashore at Enderby Island to spot for many of the unique birds that nest here, including the southern royal albatross, northern giant petrel, Auckland Island Shag, red-crowned parakeet and yellow-eyed penguin. At Sandy Bay, possibly also spot the Hooker’s sea lion.

On Auckland Island, explore the remains of Hardwicke Settlement at Port Ross which was abandoned after three years in the early 1800s. If weather permits, there may be an opportunity to climb the slopes to observe the shy albatross colony nesting in the tussock grass. Later, possibly cruise by Zodiac or Xplorer through the sheltered inlets of Carnley Harbor, climbing through rata forest to take in the views from a vantage point or visiting a historic site on the islands.

Campbell Island/Motu Ihupuku

Roughly 375 miles south of Stewart Island, windswept Campbell Island is one of the main islands within the Subantarctic Islands World Heritage Site, and New Zealand’s most southern island. Over many years it was the location for sealing, whaling and farming endeavors, but was declared a nature reserve in 1954. Since that time, introduced animals have been eradicated, including cattle, sheep, cats and rats. This has allowed the native wildlife, birdlife and vegetation to recover and be reintroduced.

The rugged island is mostly surrounded by cliffs, which rise to 985 feet on the south and west sides. Three distinct harbors are carved into the eastern side of the island, and at the end of the long Perseverance Harbor is the location for a meteorological station, now automated. The island is in the weather path and plays a key role in measurements and monitoring.

The steep hills and slopes of Campbell Island are covered with mega herbs characterized by their huge leaves and colorful flowers. These unusual plants include the Campbell Island Daisy, the silver leaf daisy and the Campbell Island Carrot. These plants create a colorful display in summer, leading English botanist Joseph Hooker to describe it as a “flora display second to none outside the tropics.”

Sharing the space with these remarkable plants are the equally remarkable albatrosses. Six types of albatross breed on the island, including the enormous southern royal albatross. It is also possible to spot many other species include petrels, shearwaters, terns and shags. The rare yellow-eyed and eastern rockhopper penguins are also found on the island.

Here, the ship will anchor in Perseverance Harbor and go ashore at Beeman Base, where a hike along a marked trail provides a close view of the flora and fauna of the island. Hope to visit the “world’s loneliest tree,” a Sitka Spruce over 100 years old, which is over 125 miles from the next closest tree on Auckland Island. Possibly also cruise the harbors by tender to view the basalt columns, kelp forests, fur seals and sea lions.

Antipodes Islands/Moutere Mahue

The Antipodes Island group, volcanic and uninhabited, are part of the New Zealand Subantarctic World Heritage site. The steep and rocky islands, referenced by the Maori name as “forgotten,” are now protected but were once the location of violent fur-sealing operations until the early 1800s. Now, the island is recognized as an Important Bird Area, with several species of seabird breeding here. These include the southern rockhopper and erect-crested penguins; albatrosses; petrels; and the Antipodes snipe, pipit and parakeet.

The islands are surrounded by basalt cliffs emerging from the sea, hollowed by sea caves and blanketed by mist. This gives it a mysterious presence as it emerges from the wild sea. Landings are not permitted on these isolated islands, so if weather conditions permit, cruise the coastline to spot birds and admire the landscape of tussock grass, shield fern and mega herbs.

Bounty Islands

This tiny group of 13 uninhabited granite islets were discovered by Captain Bligh aboard the HMS Bounty in 1788. These bleak islands are sounded by the Moutere Hauriri Marine Reserve, which translates to “angry wind.” And while the islands are remarkably remote and inhospitable to human settlement, they provide a refuge for over 20,000 New Zealand fur seals, and 30,000 pairs of Salvin’s mollymawks, erect-crested penguins, as well as the fulmar prion and Bounty Island Shag. Landings are not permitted here, as the islands are highly protected, but if weather permits, cruise the shorelines to spot birds and other wildlife.

Chatham Islands

The Chatham Islands, a territory of New Zealand, is made up of 10 islands over a 25-mile radius. Located on the Chatham Rise, an undersea formation of the sunken Zealandia continent, the islands have sustained human settlement for almost 1000 years. The Moriori set off from what is believed to be New Zealand’s South Island around 1400 AD and arrived on the islands, which they named Rekohu (misty skies), to establish a settlement. For over 400 years, they were isolated from the outside world and developed a unique and distinct culture of hunter-gathering, living from what the island provided, with strong religious beliefs and a ban on war and bloodshed. The islands were discovered when an English ship, Chatham, was blown off course in 1790, and in 1835 Maori from the mainland arrived and killed and enslaved the Moriori.

Today, two of the islands are inhabited. Waitangi is the main town on the islands and farming and fishing are the major economic activities. The main island features an enormous lagoon, separated from the ocean by sand dunes. The island has striking geographical contrasts, from towering cliffs to lagoons and peat bogs, wide beaches to dense forest.

Go ashore at the main island and settlement of Waitangi. This village will be our base for a busy day of discovering this unique island and provides an opportunity to meet the people who call it home. Possibly visit a reserve to spot endemic Chatham Island pigeons, Chatham Island warbler and tui. With two days at the Chatham Islands, observe the many unique plants, including the Chatham Island forget-me-not. Also spot the island’s endemic birds, including the Chatham Island shag, and the black robin. Look for the rare Forbe’s Parakeet at Mangere Island, and take Zodiac cruises to spot the Chatham Island Albatross, the New Zealand shore plover and the Pitt Island Shag. Tender cruises around Pyramid Rock and South East Island will reveal an abundance of species. With luck, spot the critically endangered Taiko Petrel.

Accommodations

Coral Geographer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 15
Disembark Wellington, New Zealand

This morning, arrive at Wellington to disembark at 8:00am and take an included post-cruise transfer to Wellington CBD hotels or the airport.

Accommodations

n/a

Meals

breakfast

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Details
Inclusions, Terms & Notes

Included

Captain’s welcome and farewell drinks; showcase wines, selected beers, juices, spirits and soft drinks with lunch and dinner service; daily lectures and briefings, slide/film presentations, and other group activities; guided adventure touring and walks; group transfers during the cruise; all meals; morning and afternoon teas; guided tours on purpose built expedition vessel Xplorer; use of snorkeling equipment, including masks, snorkel and fins; 24 hour tea and coffee station; coach transfer from Queenstown to Milford Sound; port taxes and port charges imposed by government authorities; choice of local operator excursions at some locations.

Exclusions

Pre and post flights; some transfers and accommodation; entry VISA and travel permits; fuel surcharges if applicable; personal items such as telephone, facsimile, internet charges, laundry, additional bar charges; travel insurance of any kind; SCUBA diving charges where applicable (contact your Adventure Specialist for pricing).

Payment & Cancellation

In order to confirm this trip, a deposit of 20% is required per person at time of booking. The balance of the trip price is due 90 days before the departure date. Special holiday payment and cancellation terms may apply. Guests who must cancel their trip for any reason must do so in writing. A name change/transfer of the booking to another person is considered a cancellation and cancellation penalties will apply. An AUD200.00 per person fee may be charged for any amendments not requiring a date change after booking is confirmed. There is an AUD500.00 per person fee if a date change is made more than 90 days before departure. Standard cancellations are subject to the following per-person penalties, based on number of days prior to departure:
Up to 90 days – 100% of deposit
89 to 60 days – 50% of total trip cost
59 to 0 days – 100% of total trip cost

Terms & Conditions

This trip is subject to AdventureSmith Explorations Terms and Conditions. Please read this information carefully and call us if you have any questions. A Traveler Information Form, which includes a release of liability, must be completed and signed by all travelers. Your Adventure Specialist will send you a unique link to complete this form along with a packing list and extensive pre-departure and travel insurance information upon booking confirmation.

Arrival & Departure

The alternative, Subantarctic & Chatham Islands Expedition cruise begins in Queenstown, New Zealand (ZQN), with an included overland transfer to Milford Sound, and ends in Wellington, New Zealand (WLG). Guests must arrive in Queenstown one day prior to departure. Plan flights to depart Wellington no earlier than midday (domestic) or 2:00pm (international) on day 15. If you would like assistance with international flights, please visit our Booking Flights resource page.

Activities

Whether you are looking for light activity options or more challenging outdoor pursuits, the ship’s crew can tailor most excursions to suit your skill level. Adventure activities may include hiking, kayaking, inflatable boat/skiff excursions, land treks, whale watching, wildlife observation, diving (added cost), city exploration and cultural visits.

Room Configuration

Limited double occupancy cabins for solo use may be available at a sole use rate; ask your Adventure Smith Specialist for details. Bookings made via the solo use rate are confirmed, with the option to request a cabin share; share requests made without a solo use rate booking are not guaranteed unless a match is found, accepted by both travelers and confirmed by the reservations team.

If you would like to share accommodation with another guest of the same gender, we will be happy to take your details and try to connect you with a suitable match. This program allows you to pay the per person double-occupancy rate if a match is found. Contact AdventureSmith for further details and availability.

Families & Children

Kids 12 years and older are welcomed aboard all departure dates; exceptions for children 11 years and under may be allowed with special pre-approval.

Travel Insurance

Protect your travel investment with insurance. Our partners at Travelex Insurance offer a variety of plans and policies to fit every trip and budget. Coverage for a pre-existing medical condition is also available if you purchase the Travel Select plan within 15 days of the initial trip payment; refer to plan details. Learn more about travel insurance or get a free quote.

As a condition of travel, guests must provide evidence of travel insurance with medical evacuation coverage OR complete a credit card authorization form for expenses incurred during a medical evacuation. Proof of travel insurance with medical evacuation coverage OR a completed authorization form must be provided prior to boarding.

Itinerary Notes

Use the itinerary as a guide only. Itineraries may be altered due to weather, wildlife, national park regulation or at the captain’s discretion. The ability to be flexible makes this type of small ship cruising unique.

Rates & Dates

Cruise Rates & Dates

Listed prices for this trip are based on foreign currency exchange rates and may vary. USD pricing will be calculated at the time of final payment based on the market conversion rate plus a 1% banking conversion fee of total invoiced amount. Please contact AdventureSmith for current pricing.

Dec 27 - Jan 08, 2022
Coral Geographer • 13 days
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From $7375USD
Per Person
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Jan 08 - Jan 22, 2022
Coral Geographer • 15 days
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From $8700USD
Per Person
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Jan 23 - Jan 30, 2022
Coral Geographer • 9 days
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From $5050USD
Per Person
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Accommodation

Learn About the Small Ship on Your Itinerary

Expedition Ship
Coral Geographer

Launching in 2021, the 120-guest Coral Geographer Australian expedition ship offers six balcony suites, a showcase galley, a passenger elevator and advanced navigation and propulsion systems.

Book with the confidence that comes from experience.

100+ combined years of experience, 7 continents explored, decades of expedition cruising around the world & here to help you find & book your dream trip.

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