A NEW cruise offering from Smithsonian Journeys and PONANT

Immerse yourself in New Zealand’s natural majesty on a voyage from the wildlife-rich Otago Peninsula to Auckland by way of the magnificent sounds of Fiordland National Park and the traditional homelands of the Māori.

Starting at: $8,732 Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 A moody Milford Sound
 Landscape of lupines and mountains on the South Island
 Doubtful Sound
 Doubtful Sound on a cloudy day
 Milford Sound
 Waterfalls in Fiordland National Park
 Beach on Stewart Island
 The Fiordland crested penguin
 The New Zealand Yellowhead songbird
 The New Zealand Bellbird, with its distinctive call
 The beautiful New Zealand Tui
 The endangered South Island Saddleback
 The common New Zealand Kea

New Zealand's North and South Islands by Sea

A Voyage aboard the 184-guest Le Jacques Cartier

10 days from $8,732

A NEW cruise offering from Smithsonian Journeys and PONANT

Immerse yourself in New Zealand’s natural majesty on a voyage from the wildlife-rich Otago Peninsula to Auckland by way of the magnificent sounds of Fiordland National Park and the traditional homelands of the Māori.

or Call 855-330-1542


Expectations: New Zealand's South Island by Sea is an expedition-style cruise program meant for healthy, able-bodied participants. When embarking and disembarking the ship itself, passengers need to be able to walk up/down the gangplank. Zodiacs and local boats are used for shore excursions and travelers need to be able to get in and out of the zodiacs unassisted, which requires a large step over the side of the zodiac. This typically takes flexibility, agility, and balance. When on shore, excursions will entail walking and nature tours of up to two to three miles, at times over uneven terrain. 

Appropriate for: Travelers who are physically fit, lead active lives, are comfortable participating in long days of activities, and expect some physical exertion.


Day 1 — Christchurch, New Zealand/Lyttelton

Arrive in Christchurch, New Zealand’s “garden city,” and transfer to nearby Lyttelton to board the ship in the afternoon. Set sail south along the coast of the South Island. (D)

Day 2 — Dunedin

Your first port of call is Dunedin, a university town nestled at the base of the beautiful Otago Peninsula. Set off on on a historic railway for a scenic ride through the Taieri River Gorge; or head to Nature’s Wonder Reserve, located on the tip of the Otago Peninsula, to discover its rich flora and fauna on an excursion in a specially designed vehicle. Look for both little blue and yellow-eyed penguins, as well as breeding colonies of New Zealand fur seals. Alternatively, tour Dunedin, visiting its world-class botanical gardens—home to some 6,800 species—and taking in panoramic views from the top of nearby Mount Cargill. (B,L,D)

Day 3 — Dusky Sound and Doubtful Sound

Enter the stunning, glacier-carved waterways of Fiordland National Park, a World Heritage site known for its narrow fjords, vertical cliffs, and old-growth forests. Sail first into remote Dusky Sound and ride Zodiacs to get an up-close look at wildlife including endemic species such as the Fiordland crested penguin.  Continue north to the long and narrow Doubtful Sound, so named by Captain Cook, who questioned whether it was navigable when he arrived here in 1770. The ship will navigate Secretary Island as well as the adjacent Thompson Sound, and you’ll have the chance to explore by Zodiac, discovering spectacular waterfalls along the shores. (B,L,D)

Day 4 — Milford Sound

Your final stop in the Fiordlands is the incomparable Milford Sound, which meanders inland between the steep slopes of the Southern Alps, offering breathtaking vistas at every turn. Spend the morning immersed in the sound’s natural majesty, taking in the views from on deck and setting out by Zodiac to spot fur seals and an array of birdlife native to New Zealand.  (B,L,D)

Day 5 — At Sea

As you sail north along the coast, enjoy a leisurely day on board, taking advantage of the ship’s many amenities and joining your Smithsonian Journeys Experts for informative presentations. You might choose to indulge in a massage at the spa or meet the PONANT photographers to see images of the voyage so far. (B,L,D)

Day 6 — Picton

Go ashore at Picton to explore the Marlborough wine region, known especially for its crisp sauvignon blancs. Enjoy tasting tours at three wineries and visit a local chocolate maker. Or view an impressive collection of World War I and II aircraft and artifacts at the Omaka Heritage Aviation Centre in Blenheim. Then cap off the outing with a  visit to a popular brewery and a confectionery shop. (B,L,D)

Day 7 — Napier

Awaken in Napier on the North Island and delve into the rich culture of the Māori people on a tour of their ancestral lands led by a Māori guide. Take part in a traditional greeting ceremony in the coastal village of Waimarama, and spend time with families, learning about their daily life, music, and age-old customs. Admire the art deco architecture of Napier before returning to the ship. (B,L,D)

Day 8 — Whakatane

Dock at Whakatane and head inland on one of two excursions. Encounter colorful mineral springs and geysers in Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland and Te Puia, and learn more about Māori culture through craft demonstrations and dances. Or visit a family-run truffle farm, and take a walk in the woods with truffle-hunting dogs to witness how this delicacy is hunted. Sample a host of truffle-infused foods, from cheese and honey to ice cream, along with long wines and beers.  (B,L,D)

Day 9 - Auckland

Arrive in lovely Auckland, set on an isthmus with a picturesque harbor on either side. Embark on a city tour, stopping at the Auckland Museum to meet artists and trace the history of Aotearoa, the Māori word for New Zealand. Instead, choose to ride the ferry to beautiful Waiheke Island for a tour of several wineries and lunch. (B,L,D)

Day 10 - Auckland / Return Home

Disembark after breakfast and transfer to the airport or extend your stay. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)

Related Tours