If you are going to travel half way around the world, you need a good reason, and what better reason could you have than the desire to visit one of the most beautiful places on earth? New Zealand is a land of stunning landscape and warm people, which is why it is always high on travellers’ wish lists. With vast open spaces filled with stunning rugged landscapes, gorgeous beaches, often spectacular geothermal and volcanic activity, a temperate climate and fascinating animal and plant life, New Zealand is a land of rare natural beauty and breathtaking contrasts.
We commence our exploration of this fascinating country in Queenstown where we have ample time to explore the city before setting sail from the spectacular Milford Sound where we see towering peaks and cascading waterfalls. We venture to the incredible wilderness of Fjordland where our nimble Zodiacs allow us to discover the inlets and bays of the most remote region of New Zealand. We visit Stewart Island to admire the abundant birdlife, explore the 19th century architecture of Dunedin and look out for penguins, dolphins and whales in the bay of Akaroa and Kaikoura.
A circumnavigation of the North Island, offers the unusual opportunity to visit the lesser known west coast of northern New Zealand. We call into the quaint city of New Plymouth, explore the Waipoua Kauri Forest, one of the largest remaining tracts of native forest in Northland, and discover the awe-inspiring scenery of the Bay of Islands. We visit the iconic cities of Auckland, Napier and Wellington and journey to the thermal springs at Rotorua, a myriad of gurgling mudpools, steaming ground and expansive vistas.
NATURAL WONDERS OF NEW ZEALAND itinerary:
Day 1 - LONDON TO HONG KONG
Fly by scheduled flight.
Day 2 - HONG KONG
Arrive this afternoon and transfer to the Harbour Grand Hong Kong Hotel for a two night stay. Enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure.
Day 3 - HONG KONG.
Morning Hong Kong tour including Victoria Peak and Stanley Market. Afternoon free. This evening we will meet for a welcome dinner at a centrally located restaurant
Day 4 - HONG KONG TO QUEENSTOWN
Enjoy a morning at leisure in Hong Kong before transferring to the airport for the scheduled flight to Queenstown via Auckland.
Day 5 - QUEENSTOWN
Arrive this afternoon in Queenstown and transfer to the Novotel Queenstown for a two night stay. Remainder of day at leisure.
Day 6 - QUEENSTOWN
Today you have the choice of exploring Queenstown independently or joining an optional Dart River Wilderness Safari.
Day 7 - QUEENSTOWN TO MILFORD SOUND
Check out of the hotel after breakfast and transfer to Milford Sound to embark the MS Caledonian Sky this afternoon. Sail tonight.
Day 8 - FJORDLAND
We have a full day to explore the incredible wilderness of fjords to the south of Milford Sound. This is an area of majestic scenery, rich in wildlife, which is only accessible by sea, making it the most remote region of New Zealand. Our schedule may include Resolution Bay, Dusky Sound and Deep Cove, but final itinerary decisions will be made by the Captain and Expedition Leader based on weather conditions.
Day 9 - STEWART ISLAND
New Zealand’s third island is well off the usual beaten tourist track. It is a wonderfully tranquil place, the scenery of untouched bushland is stunning. We also hope to use our Zodiacs around Half Moon Bay and the Paterson Inlet. The bird life here is amazing, red crowned parakeets, black oyster catchers, sooty shearwaters, tuis, bellbirds, kakas and fearless wekas
Day 10 - DUNEDIN
This morning we will explore Dunedin on a guided tour. See the gracious 19th century buildings and beautiful botanical gardens. Alternatively join an optional excursion to Tairoa Head to see the Royal Albatross Centre.
Day 11 - AKAROA
This morning we cruise in to the secluded Akaroa Harbour. This picturesque bay hosts a myriad of wildlife including penguins and dolphins. Using our Zodiacs we will explore Otanerito Bay and hopefully have the opportunity to swim with one of the smallest and rarest dolphins - the Hector’s or New Zealand Dolphin. We will also have time to explore the town originally settled by the French in the early 19th century which retains its Gallic heritage and ambience. For those who wish to visit Christchurch, it may be possible to join a guided excursion.
Day 12 - KAIKOURA
Today we are in Kaikoura, a famous whale watching area due to its nutrient rich waters. After breakfast, there will be opportunities to join a whale watching cruise looking out for sperm whales, pods of dusky and common seals and the wandering albatross. Spend the afternoon exploring the town independently or join one of the nature walks or maybe take an optional trip on one of the bird watching cruises. There is an abundance of birdlife in the area including Great Albatross, Banded Albatross, Shearwater, Petrels, Prions and Shag.
Day 13 - MARLBOROUGH SOUNDS
Marlborough Sounds Maritime Park is dotted with hundreds of jewellike emerald islands. Enjoy Zodiac tours of secluded shores and guided nature walks led by naturalists. At Ship’s Cove go ashore to view the monument commemorating the visits of Captain Cook.
Day 14 - NEW PLYMOUTH
We have the day in this pretty city sandwiched between the sea and Mt Taranaki. A morning tour will visit Pukekura Park one of the premier botanical gardens in New Zealand. We will have a chance to explore the diverse landscape of formal gardens, bushwalks and lakes as well as the fernery and display houses.
Day 15 - NORTHLAND
We will use our Zodiacs to land in one of the natural harbours of Northland near Hokianga where we land to see the Waipoua Kauri Forest and time permitting we will visit nearby Mangungu Mission House, the site of the second signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.
Day 16 - BAY OF ISLANDS
Arrive this afternoon in the finest maritime park in New Zealand with its 144 islands, secluded bays and an abundance of marine life. Discovered by Captain Cook in 1769, it is the cradle of European civilisation in New Zealand and has important historical significance for both Maori and Europeans.
Day 17 - AUCKLAND
A morning tour will include the city’s highlights and the Auckland Museum, which houses the world’s largest collection of Polynesian artefacts. This afternoon is free to explore independently.
Day 18 - TAURANGA FOR ROTORUA
Drive to the famous thermal springs at Rotorua to see the geysers and pools of bubbling mud. We also enjoy a traditional Maori welcome and lunch.
Day 19 - WHITE ISLAND
Arrive this morning at White Island. Weather permitting, there will be an excursion to explore the active volcano on White Island, identifiable by the plume of steam continually spouting from its crater. We will use the zodiacs to reach the island and then spend approximately three hours on a guided walk to the crater. Afternoon cruising.
Day 20 - NAPIER
Arrive this morning in Napier and join a tour of the town which will include its charming art deco buildings, the 1930s Stripped Classical style and Spanish Mission architecture, visit a local vineyard to sample the local wines or alternatively join the optional excursion to the gannetry at Cape Kidnappers where you are able to get amazingly close to the birds. The 13 hectare reserve includes the Saddle and Black Reef gannet colonies.
Day 21 - WELLINGTON TO LONDON
Disembark this morning and enjoy a morning in the nation’s capital. This afternoon transfer to the airport for your return flight to London via Auckland.
Day 22 - LONDON HEATHROW
Arrive this morning.
The MS Caledonian Sky accommodates a maximum of 114 passengers in 57 spacious outside suites. Many have walk-in wardrobes and some feature tub baths. There will be seven categories of suites and sixteen suites will have private balconies. For those familiar with the MS Island Sky she will feel like a second home, although there are some differences. The dining room, lounge, Lido Deck and bar are all similar. However, the ‘Club’ on the MS Caledonian Sky has been transported to the very top deck. Here, there is a library and bar which leads out on to a lovely forward deck. The ‘Club’ has wonderful views with ceiling to floor windows.
If you like the MS Island Sky, we are sure you will also approve of her sister. And, of course it is important that we offer the very best of facilities. However, equally as important are the staff on board whether they are the vessel’s crew or our own expedition staff. Noble Caledonia’s reputation has been built on providing the very best in all areas. Their crew of 74 not only offer an excellent service they are also noted for their kindness and attention to detail. A well run ship with a warm atmosphere is what we are known for, and it is because most of our crew have been with us for many years that we are able to engender such an atmosphere.
Onboard there are 57 exceptionally spacious and well designed suites. The passenger accommodation is arranged over four decks and all suites have outside views. All feature a sitting room area and some have private balconies. Each affords considerable comfort with en-suite bathroom featuring a country style wash basin, hot towel rack and vanity unit with sink and walk-in shower and/or bath tub.
Facilities in the suites also include walk-in or spacious wardrobes, dressing table with large mirror and stool or desk, mini-fridge, flat screen television, telephone, programmable electronic safe, hairdryer, assorted toiletries, air-conditioning and heating. Bottled water, towelling dressing gowns and slippers are also provided for your comfort.
The spacious and finely decorated public rooms include a large lounge where daily briefings and talks will be provided throughout the voyage and an elegant bar where a pianist plays periodically throughout the day. The bar also features a 24-hour tea and coffee station. In addition there is the Club Lounge on the Panoramic Deck which features a bar. The onboard travel library is the perfect place to relax with a book and is stocked with reference books pertaining to the places the vessel is visiting along with a selection of games and two computers with internet access. Daily newspapers and magazines are also placed in the library depending on local availability. Outside there is a rear Lido deck where meals are served in warm weather under shade. On the top deck there is a further observation and sun deck with bar service and comfortable deck furniture for sun bathing or relaxing with a book. There is also a small gymnasium onboard and hairdressers with appointments made on request.
With only one sitting and a maximum of just over 100 passengers, the quality of cuisine will be of a consistent superior quality. Where possible and when it meets his high standards, our accomplished chef will obtain local produce in markets or buy the catch of the day from a passing fishing boat. Such purchases enhance the well stocked larders and bring a local touch to the varied menus. In the main elegant dining room, breakfast is served buffet-style, with certain items cooked to order and lunch and dinner is à la carte. When weather permits, breakfast, a buffet-style lunch and dinner are also served on deck. To enhance your dining experience even further a selection of wines are included with lunch and dinner. Afternoon tea is served in the lounge and tea and coffee are available 24 hours. With sufficient notice, most diets can be catered for on board.
For your comfort, safety and security
The vessel is equipped with the latest safety, navigation and communications equipment along with roll stabilisers to minimise the ship’s motion. The Captain and officers operate an open-bridge policy that allows passengers onto the bridge at most times with the exception of arrival and departure from port and during times of complicated navigation. Here you can check the ship’s progress by charts and learn more from the officers about your journey. There is also a dedicated channel on your television in your suite showing the routing of the vessel along with technical information and estimated times of arrival and departure from port. On board you will also find a clinic and doctor and a lift that serves all decks. Smoking on board is restricted to outside decks only.
Unlike many other cruise vessels, onboard the MS Caledonian Sky you do not need to worry about tipping staff as we have included them in your holiday price. In addition we tip all their guides and drivers along the way, thereby taking away the hassle of always having to remember to have some small change with you.