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: $8,212 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 to the Fiordland aboard the 184-guest Le Jacques Cartier

10 days from $8,212

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


New Zealand’s South Island is edged with spectacular coastlines, where mountains rise dramatically just beyond the shore; pristine fjords cut between towering cliffs; and whales, fur seals, and penguins are drawn by unspoiled marine habitats. Sail from Wellington to the World Heritage-listed Fiordland National Park, stopping along the way in seaside Kaikoura to look for sperm whales and pods of dolphins. Then venture to the glacier-carved waterways of the Fiordland, exploring four glorious sounds: Dusky, Doubtful, Thomson, and the extraordinary Milford Sound.

The Smithsonian Journeys / PONANT Experience: Each cruise will be accompanied by two Smithsonian Journeys Experts. An excursion or activity is included in each port of call. You may have a choice of excursions in many ports, so that you can delve more deeply into subjects that interest you.

Highlights Include:

  • Kaikoura: Explore this attractive small town, poised on a narrow peninsula between dramatic mountains and the sea. Then set out on a wildlife tour to observe the diverse creatures drawn here by nutrient-rich waters: sea lions, dolphins, and several species of whales—including sperm whales, which can be found off Kaikoura year-round.
  • Akaroa: On a harbor cruise in Akaroa, be on the lookout for seabirds and Hector’s dolphin, the smallest and rarest marine dolphin species in the world.
  • Dusky and Doubtful Sounds: In remote Dusky Sound, encounter rich wildlife such as New Zealand fur seals and Fiordland crested penguins. Glide into the narrow Doubtful Sound—named by Captain James Cook, who was unsure it was navigable—and discover spectacular waterfalls.
  • Milford Sound: Experience the majesty of the Milford Sound, taking in a cathedral of vertical cliffs and peaks that tower above the serene waters. Ride Zodiacs for a closer view of wildlife and scenery along the shores.
  • Ulva Island: Take a guided walking tour on Ulva Island, a predator-free haven for bird and plant species that are rarely found on New Zealand’s main islands. Watch for the flightless Stewart Island weka and the South Island saddleback, and meander through an unspoiled podocarp forest.


Day 1 — Lyttelton, New Zealand (via Christchurch)

Arrive in Christchurch, New Zealand’s “garden city,” and board the ship this afternoon in nearby Lyttelton before sailing south along the coast to Dunedin. (D)

Day 2 — Dunedin

Your first port of call is Dunedin, nestled at the base of the beautiful Otago Peninsula. Set off on a scenic train ride through the Taieri River Gorge; or explore Nature’s Wonder Reserve in a specially designed vehicle, looking for 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 and taking in the view from 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. This afternoon, the ship begins the voyage south to Ulva Island. (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 at the Omaka Heritage Aviation Centre in Blenheim before a visit to a 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 farm to witness truffle hunting dogs at work and sample a host of truffle-infused foods paired with local wine and beer.  (B,L,D)

Day 9 - Auckland

Arrive in lovely Auckland and embark on a unique city tour. Or ride the ferry to beautiful Waiheke Island for a tour of several wineries and lunch. (B,L,D)

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)

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