Everything You Need to Know for Your New Zealand Cruise

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New Zealand is famed for its stunning natural beauty, which has been made famous through Hollywood blockbusters such as The Lord of the Rings. There is much more to this amazing country, however, than hobbit holes and bubbling volcanoes. With a rich heritage of indigenous Māori culture, stylish cities that are becoming known for their easy cool, a thriving foodie revolution, and fascinating wildlife that is unique to the country, there’s something for everyone in this beautiful travel destination.

Visiting New Zealand as part of a cruise holiday is one of the best ways to sample all that this country has to offer, from its rugged natural beauty to its stylish port cities. Relaxing in luxury on a cruise ship, you can see the stunning vistas of New Zealand rising up from the lapping ocean as you pass. Exciting port days will give you the chance to explore new cities, discover the culture of New Zealand’s indigenous people, and experience new adventures in this thrilling country. We’ve put together this guide with everything you need to know about cruising in New Zealand, from what to do in exciting city ports to the best places to discover traditional Māori culture.

Destination Travel Guides

When you think about New Zealand, you probably imagine rolling green mountains and ancient forests. These beautiful natural phenomena are a huge part of what the country has to offer, but it is the bustling cities of New Zealand that hold the real key to discovering what this country is all about. From the thriving foodie scenes to the unexpectedly quirky architecture, there’s so much for everyone in New Zealand’s diverse regions. These destination guides give you the inside scoop on what to look out for, what fun activities to try, and, of course, all the best places to grab a delicious bite to eat.

12 Hours in Wellington: Culture and Commerce in the Capital of Cool

Perched on the southernmost tip of NZ’s North Island, Wellington has retained its charm and character in a way that many other cities have not. Although it is uniquely quaint, it is far from being sleepy, and is known as one of the cornerstones of New Zealand’s growing food scene. Even if the outstanding nightlife doesn’t hold any attraction for you, you can’t fail to be charmed by its long, sandy beaches, picturesque timber houses, and historic cable cars. With a fascinating history, a friendly atmosphere, and a stunning location between the ocean and the beautiful Mount Victoria; Wellington is a city with plenty to recommend it.

Wellington - Unsplash

12 Hours in Auckland: Urban and Natural Wonders in a Diverse City
Nestled at the foot of a dormant volcano, Auckland is a vibrant metropolis that holds the title of largest city in New Zealand. Although it is not the country’s capital city, there’s an abundance of things to do in this exciting city, from marvelling at the striking architecture to exploring the history of the area at the impressive Auckland Museum. Although the city feels like a true metropolis, it is surprisingly easy to escape to the countryside and discover the local wildlife. The north of the city is home to Goat Island, a nature reserve that is home to a variety of rare marine life. Escape the urban streets and discover the whole other world that lies beneath the waves, or simply lounge on the beach before heading into the city for some outstanding seafood.

Auckland - Unsplash

12 Hours in Dunedin: Scottish Charm in New Zealand’s South Island

Dunedin is a particularly unique city and it is nothing short of fascinating to discover its strong sense of Scottish heritage right in the middle of New Zealand. It is home to architectural wonders such as Larnach Castle, the only castle in New Zealand, and the Dunedin Railway Station, which is a triumph of Edwardian Baroque design. Dunedin is also one of the only places in the world where you can see northern royal albatross in their natural environment. Taiaroa Head has a purpose-built observatory so you can look out over the rocky cliffs and see these majestic birds, and many others, going about their business.

Dunedin - Pixabay

12 Hours in Tauranga: Sea, Sun and City in the Bay of Plenty

Tauranga is a beautiful seaside city that resides amidst the spectacular scenery of the Bay of Plenty. There’s lots to do here if you enjoy good food and outdoor adventure in the sun. One of the best ways to see the city is to climb Mount Maunganui, which offers unrivalled views over Tauranga and the bay beyond. Whether you explore the Historic Village on 17th Avenue, a street in which time seems to have stood still, or you get your swimsuit on and meet the local dolphins up close, you’re bound to have a great time in the city. Be sure to pop into a local eatery for a bite to eat – no one does seaside dining quite like Tauranga.

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12 Hours in Napier: New Zealand’s Capital of Art Deco

From the first moment you set foot in Napier, you’ll be able to see that this is a city like no other. Following a devastating fire, the entire town centre was rebuilt in the Art Deco architectural style and it remains one of the best examples of these glamorous 20th-century designs. When it comes to both wildlife and history, Napier is a stand out city. The National Aquarium can be found here, showcasing the huge diversity of New Zealand’s marine life, as well as giving you the opportunity to hand feed adorable penguins. From the Otatara Pa Māori village to New Zealand’s oldest and most notorious prison, there is plenty to keep everyone in the family occupied.

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In-Depth Guides to NZ

And if you’ve got a particular reason drawing you to New Zealand, here we cover a few of the most popular tourist trails of the nation, from exploring the indigenous culture to indulging in the incredible cuisine. 

Where to See Māori Culture and Traditions in New Zealand

Māori culture has an important role in New Zealand’s heritage and learning about their history and traditions is essential for truly discovering the nation. There is a variety of learning experiences across the country, from fully immersive villages to tours with people who still practice Māori traditions today. Whether you’re learning the imposing haka war dance, marvelling at the beautiful and spiritual chin tattoos of the Māori women, or eating delicious local food; discovering Māori culture is bound to be a fascinating and rewarding experience. This guide shows you some of the best places to see indigenous culture and traditions no matter where you are in the country.

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Step into Middle Earth: A Tour of New Zealand’s Most Breath-Taking Landscapes

New Zealand is a country with a unique and diverse landscape that inspires awe in travellers, filmmakers, and photographers alike. Whether you’re dying to see the barren faces of Mount Doom, discover Hobbiton, or simply marvel at natural wonders that aren’t featured in The Lord of the Rings; New Zealand’s stunning vistas can never disappoint. We’ve rounded up the breath-taking landscapes you simply can’t miss, from looming mountains to eerily spherical boulders that seem to have dropped from the sky, and all the accompanying local folklore.

Lord of the Rings - Unsplash

What Time of Year is Best to Visit New Zealand?

A trip to New Zealand can vary greatly depending on the time of year that you visit. If you’re hoping to miss the tourists, whilst still enjoying beautiful outdoor weather then spring may be the perfect time for you. For a holiday filled with long sandy beaches and endless days of sun, a summer vacation will show you the best of what this beautiful country has to offer. For those who like to miss the tourist season completely, opting instead for long cool walks on the stunning mountains over hiking trails that are all but deserted, then autumn is the perfect time to visit. In winter, New Zealand is a snow-capped wonderland, with amazing opportunities for skiing, snowboarding and hiking. Whatever the weather, New Zealand has plenty to offer in every season.

New zealand - pixabay

Can’t-Miss Food and Drink Experiences in New Zealand

Many of New Zealand’s culinary roots lie in the traditional British gastronomy imported by the Europeans who moved here during the gold rush. Over the last 25 years, however, New Zealand’s foodie scene has started to boom and is gaining a worldwide reputation for its award-winning eateries. Modern Kiwi cuisine is moving away from its British roots, instead harnessing the flavours of Australian and Pacific food to create a fresh take on the produce of the region. Cities like Auckland and Tauranga are developing a chic café culture, which is becoming synonymous with all things stylish in New Zealand’s burgeoning metropolises. Even without all this, New Zealand’s famous wine scene would be enough to put it on the foodie map. We’ve rounded up some of the places you just have to eat and drink during your trip.

Wine - Pixabay

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About Author

Lily Egge

Lily is in her mid 60’s and loves cruising. She and her partner have cruised on at least 40 cruises so far and there is much more to see. They usually travel on a balcony cabin, especially at Christmas where they celebrate on the cruise with the family. She lives in Manifold Heights in Victoria. Lily writes for Cruise 1st on a regular basis.

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