Tailor-Made Holiday

New Zealand Cruise - Auckland to Milford Sound

Cruise via white island, marlborough sounds, kaikoura and the fiordlands

13 days

from £6,395pp (excluding flights)

Experience New Zealand from a different perspective accessing remote and pristine wilderness areas, and encounters with Maori culture. Over 13 days voyage from Auckland on the North Island to the dramatic beauty of Fiordland on the South Island.

  • Spend two days exploring less accessible and spectacular areas of the Marlborough Sounds
  • Visit remote Stewart Island and encounter some of New Zealand’s iconic wildlife
  • Take advantage of the open bridge policy allowing guests onto the bridge to observe and chat with the captain and crew

From Auckland, this cruise hugs the east coast of the North Island, via the volcanic White Island, the historical city of Gisborne where the first European settlers landed and the art deco architecture of Napier. Two days are spent cruising through the spectacular Marlborough Sounds which connects the North and South Islands, allowing time to take in less visited coves, islands and wildlife.

Now on the South Island, cruise through the waters of Kaikoura, rich in marine life and onwards to the pretty French colonial fishing town of Akaroa; the dramatic Southern Alps ranges visible at all times. The Victorian city of Dunedin is surrounded by rugged coastal beaches where penguins, seabirds and seal colonies reside. Next the country's third largest island; Stewart Island, home to a wild beauty and more kiwis than humans. There are surely few better places to end this cruise than the iconic glacier carved fiords of Milford, Dusky and Thompson Sounds. 

Why Cruise New Zealand?

With over 7,000 kilometres of coastline, a cruise offers the chance to explore remote hidden coastal sounds, volcanic islands and marine reserves, away from other people. Special tender equipment and open deck space on board ensure up-close experiences with nature.

Guides and Specialists on board

The expedition team aboard Coral Expeditions are key to the success of their cruises and each voyage includes a mixture of full-time guides as well as guest lecturers with specific local knowledge. They will introduce you to the wildlife, geology, history and culture of the country.

Unique experiences on and off the ship

The city of Gisborne on the North Island has a strong colonial and indigenous history as well as some delicious food and wine.

As well as access to little-visited parts of the Marlborough Sound, Coral Discoverer also explores three iconic fiords within the Fiordland National Park; Thompson Sound, Dusky Sound and Milford Sound. There is also the chance to explore the tiny forested island of Ulva; located just off Stewart Island it is predator free, creating a sanctuary for many endangered birds.

Sustainable best practices

Coral Expeditions is accredited as an eco-tourism cruise operator with world-leading EcoTourism Australia. Ecotourism is defined as tourism in a natural area that offers interesting ways to learn about the environment with an operator that uses resources wisely, contributes to the conservation of the environment and helps local communities. They have a policy of no plastic straws on board any of their ships and are constantly seeking new ways to reduce plastic usage and be as environmentally friendly as possible.

Pre and post cruise suggestions

  • Pick up a hire car and self-drive to Mount Cook National Park, spending a few nights exploring the spectacular mountainous scenery before flying out of Christchurch
  • Start or end your trip in Australia’s New South Wales – perfect in November, explore the bright lights of Sydney, head into the Blue Mountains or treat yourself with a few nights on Lord Howe Island
  • Fly to Fiji or the Cook Islands for some idyllic beach time 

Cruise dates

Two back-to-back cruises are operating in November 2019.

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Price Excluding Flights £Flight cost from 
£ 6395 £ 1000
  Click here to see what is included/excluded

what is included

  • 12 night cruise onboard Coral Discoverer
  • All meals including morning and afternoon tea
  • Coach transfer from Milford Sound to Queenstown
  • Group transfers during the cruise
  • Guided adventure touring and walks during cruise
  • Guided tours on expedition vessels
  • Port taxes and port charges
  • Showcase wines, selected beers, juices and soft drinks with lunch and dinner
  • Use of snorkelling equipment including masks, snorkel and fins

what is excluded

  • Any visa requirements
  • Gratuities
  • International flights


Itinerary at a glance

Collapse all
Day 1

Embarkation in Auckland
Board the Coral Discoverer in Auckland harbour this afternoon. Depart the ‘city of sails’ at at 17:00 and cruise 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 welcome drinks and meeting the crew.

You will be staying at Coral Discoverer Boat, full board and house beverages

Day 2

White Island
Hop aboard the fleet of zodiacs and land ashore on the active volcano, White Island. The expedition team will lead you on a guided walk to the crater. Watch the build-up of gas and a constant plume of steam escaping from the earth as you explore this rugged landscape streaked with iron oxide reds and vivid sulphur whites and yellows.

You will be staying at Coral Discoverer Boat, full board and house beverages

Day 3

Gisborne has a rich history and is where the first Polynesian canoes landed, when Captain Cook first came ashore from the Endeavour and Maori and European settlers first met. Venture to a small marae (Maori meeting place) for a traditional Maori welcome and the Kapa Haka cultural show. After the show take time to explore Gisborne; undertake a self-guided journey through the city's lovely gardens and wineries to sample some first-rate produce.

You will be staying at Coral Discoverer Boat, full board and house beverages

Day 4

Arrive into Hawke's Bay this morning, home to one of the purest art deco cities in the world, Napier. Take time to 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).

Hawkes Bay has a Mediterranean climate and Art Deco style, as well as being the nation's first winemaking region.

You will be staying at Coral Discoverer Boat, full board and house beverages

Day 5

Marlborough Sounds
Over the next two days. 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. There will be several interpreted explorations on the Xplorer and zodiac vessels, guided by the expedition team and guest lecturers. During the travels visit Moturoa Island with its plentiful native birdlife and other remote coastal towns and locations often only accessible by boat.

You will be staying at Coral Discoverer Boat, full board and house beverages

Day 6

You will be staying at Coral Discoverer Boat, full board and house beverages

Day 7

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 specialised vessel explore the ocean in search of whale, fur seals and dolphins.

You will be staying at Coral Discoverer Boat, full board and house beverages

Day 8

Today sail into the Banks Peninsula, named for botanist Joseph Banks. Discover the history of Akaroa, a scenic village, built on the edge of a sunken volcanic crater and once a bustling French colonised whaling community. Take a leisurely walk through the village discovering 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 Hectors dolphin.

You will be staying at Coral Discoverer Boat, full board and house beverages

Day 9

Arrive at 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.

Dock in Dunedin, a city 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.

You will be staying at Coral Discoverer Boat, full board and house beverages

Day 10

Stewart and 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 this 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 birdlife and hopefully spot a few fur seals lazing on the shore.

An optional tour can be taken ashore to Stewart Island at additional cost.

You will be staying at Coral Discoverer Boat, full board and house beverages

Day 11

Dusky Sound
Enter the rugged beauty of Fiordland National Park at the dramatic Dusky Sound. Cruise among towering cliffs, cascading waterfalls, passing some of the 365 tiny islands and exploring the depths of the inlets in the zodiacs.

Later this evening we journey north and drop anchor at the beautiful Doubtful Sound.

Covering over 1.2 million hectares, Fiordland National Park is located on the south western tip of New Zealand's South Island and is home to spectacular mountain, lake and rainforest scenery. The iconic glacier carved fiords of Doubtful and Milford Sounds are part of the national park and are home to wildlife including penguin, dolphin and fur seal.

You will be staying at Coral Discoverer Boat, full board and house beverages

Day 12

Doubtful Sound and 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. Set sail from Doubtful Sound into Thompson Sound to discover further scenes of breath-taking wilderness in these ancient glacial fiords. Tonight, enjoy the Captain's Farewell Dinner while we steam to the last port of call.

You will be staying at Coral Discoverer Boat, full board and house beverages

Day 13

Disembarkation in Queenstown
Cruise the length of Milford Sound and view iconic Mitre Peak, towering some 1,600 feet above the glassy waters. After breakfast disembark the boat and transfer overland to Queenstown, arriving at approximately 13:30.

Transfer to the airport or your chosen hotel for your onwards travel.


Below you can see some of the wonderful places we recommend you stay on your journey.

Coral Discoverer Boat

Coral Discoverer Boat

Coral Discoverer is a contemporary ship built to offer an incredibly comfortable and rewarding small expeditionary cruising experience....

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For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

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For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

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