Aotearoa New Zealand is a land of waters. Despite being a small country, it’s 15,000 kilometres of coast give it the ninth longest coastline in the world. It also has almost 4000 lakes (a lake being counted as any body of water of more than one acre).
With this in mind, Aotearoa New Zealand is one of the best cruise destinations there is.
And while a lot of locals might think of New Zealand cruises as something for tourists, there’s no reason not to hop aboard, whether you’re a Kiwi or from further afield.
The top New Zealand cruises, according to international visitors
There are several New Zealand cruise experiences that are well-known to international visitors.
Real New Zealand has legendary overnight and day cruises in both Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound – watch out for locals’ deals during the shoulder seasons.
The Doubtful Sound option is a bit small and quieter than the Milford Sound trip, but both offer the best of the Fiordland region of the South Island of New Zealand, including towering waterfalls and a range of exotic wildlife, including dolphins, penguins and New Zealand fur seals.
And Princess Cruises does a four day “Seacation” between Australia (Sydney to be specific) and Auckland across the Tasman Sea (see the Sky Tower from the water!), as well as the five-say Princess Cruises option, which adds Tauranga to the mix.
Or the Carnival Cruise Line offers a chance to explore the natural wonders of both the South Island and the North Island of New Zealand on cruises of up to 12 days long.
Is there any other New Zealand cruise you would recommend?
It depends what you mean by cruise. Many of us associate the word “cruise” with giant town-sized ships circling the South Pacific, stopping for boozy shore excursions, and hitting all the top selfie spots, like the Great Barrier Reef.
But New Zealand has lots of other types of cruise, or cruisy options.
The Bay of Islands in Northland, New Zealand is an amazing place to take a day cruise, complete with dolphins, the famous Cape Brett Lighthouse, and to the ‘Hole in the Rock’ (or through it, if conditions are right).
Speaking of sea critters, Kaikoura, north of Christchurch, is the place in New Zealand to see whales – Giant Sperm Whales pass the Kaikoura coast all year-round, while up to 14 other types of dolphins and whales appear during different seasons.
Or hop aboard a very-New Zealand sail experience with the Explore group. They’ll take you out for two hours on the Waitemata Harbour in an actual America’s Cup yacht – just like a member of Team New Zealand.
Which has better cruising, the North Island or the South Island of New Zealand?
It’s a top deck toss up. The waters of the North Island of New Zealand have more of the kind of natural beauty you would associate with the South Pacific: aquamarine water rolling over white sand beaches, tropical looking trees, colorful fish.
But the natural beauty of the South Island of New Zealand, and its rugged coastlines, have a drama that’s hard to beat. Either way, it’s a reminder, New Zealand might be best seen from the sea.