Voyage from Milford Sound to Auckland and explore New Zealand’s North and South Islands and breathtaking Fiordland.

Starting at: $8,990 Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 The dramatic Milford Sound with Mitre Peak in the center. Credit: Rob Suisted/Tourism New Zealand  Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu, and the Remarkables  Overlooking Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu. Credit: Tourism New Zealand  Looking out over Queenstown Credit: Chris Sisarich/Tourism New Zealand  Sheep farmer and travelers at Walter Peak, near Queenstown. Credit: Tourism New Zealand  Typical New Zealand landscape with sheep grazing  Cruising in Milford Sound. Credit: Adam Bryce/Tourism New Zealand  Waterfalls in Fiordland National Park  View of the dramatic Doubtful Sound  Dolphin following swimming alongside the ship. Credit: Chris Stephenson/Tourism New Zealand  Great Northern Albatross  A rare Yellow Eyed Penguin. Credit: Tourism New Zealand  Tasting cafe in Wellington. Credit: Tourism New Zealand  Traditional Maori meeting house  Maori artist working on traditional carving. Credit: Eric Lindberg/Tourism New Zealand  Young Maori woman with traditional Moko tattoos. Credit: James Heremaia/Tourism New Zealand  Maori Haka performance. Credit: James Heremaia/Tourism New Zealand  Geothermal area, Rotorua. Credit: Tourism New Zealand  Geothermal field with spouting geysers, Rotorua. Credit: Chris McLennan/Tourism New Zealand  The Po Hutu Geyser in Rotorua  The city of Auckland. Credit: Tourism New Zealand

New Zealand by Sea

A Cruise from Milford Sound to Auckland Aboard the 114-guest Caledonian Sky

14 days from $8,990

Voyage from Milford Sound to Auckland and explore New Zealand’s North and South Islands and breathtaking Fiordland.

or Call 855-330-1542

Tour Details

TOUR BROCHURE

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WHAT OUR TRAVELERS SAY

I have been with various travel groups but this trip was better than any I've ever been on. Everything was well planned; these guys had it to down to a science. On most tours at least one thing goes wrong, but not with Smithsonian. They're total experts and professionals and I can't think of anything that they could have done better.

- Valerie, M.

JOURNEYS DISPATCHES

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Overview

To see itinerary, please click on an option below.

Experience New Zealand as early Polynesians and explorers once did—by exploring its coastlines by ship.

Highlights Include

  • Queenstown: Enjoy vibrant Queenstown and visit a sheep station featuring demonstrations and a traditional barbecue.
  • Fiordland National Park: Take in the breathtaking landscapes of Milford Sound as well as Doubtful and Dusky Sounds over two exciting days.
  • Stewart Island and Otago Peninsula: Look for rare bird species during naturalist-led walks on Stewart Island and witness the magnificent northern royal albatross and rare yellow-eyed penguin on Otago Peninsula.
  • Christchurch: Learn about the city’s role in Antarctic expeditions at the city museum.
  • Marlborough Sounds: Explore islands and inlets by Zodiac and look for wildlife that Captain Cook described in his journals.
  • Wellington: Observe the Victorian ambiance of the country’s capital and visit the botanical garden and waterfront museum.
  • Rotorua: Visit a Maori village where you’ll attend a special ceremony, meet elders, observe cultural traditions, and savor a hangi feast. Plus, visit the nearby geothermal park.
  • Auckland: Tour the Auckland Museum and enjoy a farewell luncheon at a family-run estate winery. 

Itinerary

Days 1-3 — U.S. / Queenstown

Depart home on an overnight flight to Queenstown, New Zealand, gateway to the South Island’s breathtaking alpine and glacial scenery. This evening, check into your hotel and meet fellow travelers at a welcome reception. (R)

Day 4 — Queenstown

In the shadow of The Remarkables mountain range, take a scenic steamboat cruise across Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak Sheep Station. Enjoy demonstrations by the station’s experienced dog handlers and sheep shearers and a traditional down-home barbecue. The afternoon is at leisure to relax, explore the downtown Queenstown scene, or perhaps enjoy a ride on the Skyline Queenstown Gondola to the top of Bob’s Peak for spectacular views of the city and surrounding mountains. Crowne Plaza Hotel (B,L)

Day 5 — Milford Sound

Drive to spectacular Milford Sound along the shores of Lake Te Anau in Fiordland National Park. On arrival at Milford, board a small boat and cruise close to the towering cliffs and cascading waterfalls. Then embark the Caledonian Sky and depart, cruising past the 5,000-foot-high Mitre Peak. (B,L,D)

Day 6 — Doubtful & Dusky Sounds

When the glaciers covering Fiordland retreated 14,000 years ago, they left behind an extraordinarily serrated coastline, plunging fiords, and deep branching lakes, further enhanced by mist-shrouded mountains, cascading waterfalls, and vast beech forests. This is New Zealand at its wildest, most remote, and most beautiful. Explore this unspoiled waterway, well known for its wildlife, including fur seals and a resident pod of bottlenose dolphins. This evening enjoy the captain’s welcome reception and dinner. (B,L,D)

Day 7 — Stewart Island (Raikura)

Anchor in Paterson Inlet to visit Stewart and Ulva islands. Stewart Island (Raikura), the southernmost inhabited outpost of New Zealand with a population under 500, is a quiet, seldom-visited wilderness oasis and an ornithologist’s delight. Ulva Island is a sanctuary for both birds and plants, including species that are rare or extinct on mainland New Zealand. Naturalist guides lead bush walks that may include sightings of weka, kākā, albatrosses, the flightless Stewart Island kiwi, silvereyes, and fantails. (B,L,D)

Day 8 — Dunedin

From Dunedin, widely regarded as the best-preserved Victorian and Edwardian heritage city in the southern hemisphere, drive to Taiaroa Head at the tip of the Otago Peninsula, the only mainland location in the world where it is possible to view northern royal albatrosses, the largest seabirds in the world, in their natural habitat. Special viewing areas have been constructed for observing these birds without disturbing their natural activities. Aloft, these magnificent birds soar on air currents with their wings extended to nearly three meters. Nearby are vital breeding grounds of the threatened yellow-eyed penguin. Walk through carefully camouflaged trenches to view one of the world’s rarest penguin species. (B,L,D)

Day 9 — Lyttelton (Christchurch)

Dock in the harbor at Lyttelton and drive to Christchurch, headquarters for “Operation Deep Freeze” and supply point for U.S. bases in the Antarctic. Visit the unique Canterbury Museum and its Hall of Antarctic Discovery, which preserves and exhibits fascinating historic artifacts from the exploits of Antarctic explorers. Then view an ethereal temporary cathedral constructed of cardboard tubes and explore central Christchurch’s innovative shipping container shopping mall, part of the city’s creative response the damage of the 2011 earthquake. (B,L,D)

Day 10 — Marlborough Sounds

Sail across Cook Strait between the North and South Islands and enter a world of pristine natural beauty. Anchor at Ship Cove, where Captain Cook arrived aboard the Endeavour in 1770. Explore islands and inlets by Zodiac and, during short walks in the bush, keep an eye out for some of the wildlife Cook described in his reports, as well as rare birds such as the South Island saddleback, the bellbird, and the New Zealand robin. Arrive in Wellington for a free evening off the ship. (B,L)

Day 11 — Wellington

Wellington is New Zealand’s capital city, where colorful Victorian houses perch on steep hills overlooking one of the world’s loveliest harbors. Tour the city’s lush botanical garden and visit the spectacular waterfront museum Te Papa Tongarewa (Maori for “Repository of Things Precious”). Discover how the Maori navigated the Pacific to arrive on these islands, and learn about their myths and traditions. (B,L,D)

Day 12 — At Sea

Enjoy a day at sea with onboard lectures and time to relax, as the Caledonian Sky cruises along the east coast of the North Island. The captain and crew invite you on a tour of the bridge and the ship’s facilities. (B,L,D)

Day 13 — Tauranga / Rotorua

Dock in Tauranga and disembark for a drive to the heartland of New Zealand’s Maori culture. Enjoy a private gathering with Maori elders at a special powhiri (welcome) ceremony in a Maori village nestled within a native Tawa forest. Observe the sights and sounds of Maori weaving, carving, face tattooing, and food preparation activities. Also learn about warrior training and the fearsome haka posture dance as part of an exhilarating cultural performance. After a traditional hangi lunch, visit Wai O Tapu geothermal park, where boiling mud pools and colorful hot springs provide remarkable evidence of the still-hot magma just beneath the earth’s surface. (B,L,D)

Day 14  Auckland / Home

Arrive in Auckland, the “City of Sails,” and disembark for an overview coach tour of the city and a stop at the Auckland Museum to learn about New Zealand’s indigenous Maori and Polynesian cultures. After a special farewell luncheon, transfer to the airport for flights home, regaining the day lost on the inbound journey. (B,L)