Auckland to Dunedin (South Island)
11 days with Silversea Rating:
DAY 1 Auckland
Auckland is called the City of Sails, and visitors flying in will see why. On the East Coast is the Waitemata Harbour—a Maori word meaning sparkling waters—which is bordered by the Hauraki Gulf, an aquatic playground peppered with small islands where many Aucklanders can be found "mucking around in boats."Not surprisingly, Auckland has some 70,000 boats. About one in four households in Auckland has a seacraft of some kind, and there are 102 beaches within an hour's drive; during the week many are quite empty. Even the airport is by the water; it borders the Manukau Harbour, which also takes its name from the Maori language and means solitary bird.According to Maori tradition, the Auckland isthmus was originally peopled by a race of giants and fairy folk. When Europeans arrived in the early 19th century, however, the Ngati-Whatua tribe was firmly in control of the region.
The British began negotiations with the Ngati-Whatua in 1840 to purchase the isthmus and establish the colony's first capital. In September of that year the British flag was hoisted to mark the township's foundation, and Auckland remained the capital until 1865, when the seat of government was moved to Wellington. Aucklanders expected to suffer from the shift; it hurt their pride but not their pockets. As the terminal for the South Sea shipping routes, Auckland was already an established commercial center. Since then the urban sprawl has made this city of approximately 1.3 million people one of the world's largest geographically.A couple of days in the city will reveal just how developed and sophisticated Auckland is—the Mercer City Survey 2012 saw it ranked as the third-highest city for quality of life—though those seeking a New York in the South Pacific will be disappointed. Auckland is more get-up and go-outside than get-dressed-up and go-out. That said, most shops are open daily, central bars and a few nightclubs buzz well into the wee hours, especially Thursday through Saturday, and a mix of Maori, Pacific people, Asians, and Europeans contributes to the cultural milieu. Auckland has the world's largest single population of Pacific Islanders living outside their home countries, though many of them live outside the central parts of the city and in Manukau to the south. The Samoan language is the second most spoken in New Zealand. Most Pacific people came to New Zealand seeking a better life. When the plentiful, low-skilled work that attracted them dried up, the dream soured, and the population has suffered with poor health and education. Luckily, policies are now addressing that, and change is slowly coming. The Pacifica Festival in March is the region's biggest cultural event, attracting thousands to Western Springs. The annual Pacific Island Secondary Schools’ Competition, also in March, sees young Pacific Islander and Asian students compete in traditional dance, drumming, and singing. This event is open to the public.At the geographical center of Auckland city is the 1,082-foot Sky Tower, a convenient landmark for those exploring on foot. The Waitemata Harbour has become better known since New Zealand staged its first defense of the America's Cup in 2000 and the successful Louis Vuitton Pacific Series in early 2009. The first regatta saw major redevelopment of the waterfront. The area, where many of the city's most popular bars, cafés, and restaurants are located, is now known as Viaduct Basin or, more commonly, the Viaduct. A recent expansion has created another area, Wynyard Quarter, which is slowly adding restaurants.These days, Auckland is still considered too bold and brash for its own good by many Kiwis who live "south of the Bombay Hills," the geographical divide between Auckland and the rest of New Zealand (barring Northland). You can enjoy a well-made coffee in almost any café, or take a walk on a beach—knowing that within 30 minutes' driving time you could be cruising the spectacular harbor, playing a round at a public golf course, or even walking in subtropical forest while listening to the song of a native tûî bird.
DAY 2 Tauranga (Bay of Plenty)
The population center of the Bay of Plenty, Tauranga is one of New Zealand's fastest-growing cities. Along with its neighbor, Whakatane, this seaside city claims to be one of the country's sunniest towns. Unlike most local towns, Tauranga doesn't grind to a halt in the off-season, because it has one of the busiest ports in the country, and the excellent waves at the neighboring beach resort of Mount Maunganui—just across Tauranga's harbor bridge—always draw surfers and holiday folk.
DAY 3 White Island
DAY 4 Napier
The earthquake that struck Napier at 10:46 am on February 3, 1931, was—at 7.8 on the Richter scale—the largest quake ever recorded in New Zealand. The coastline was wrenched upward several feet. Almost all the town's brick buildings collapsed; many people were killed on the footpaths as they rushed outside. The quake triggered fires throughout town, and with water mains shattered, little could be done to stop the blazes that devoured the remaining wooden structures. Only a few buildings survived (the Public Service Building with its neoclassical pillars is one), and the death toll was well over 100.The surviving townspeople set up tents and cookhouses in Nelson Park, and then tackled the city's reconstruction at a remarkable pace. In the rush to rebuild, Napier went mad for art deco, the bold, geometric style that had burst on the global design scene in 1925.
Now a walk through the art deco district, concentrated between Emerson, Herschell, Dalton, and Browning streets, is a stylistic immersion. The decorative elements are often above the ground floors, so keep your eyes up.
DAY 5 Ship Cove / Picton
The maritime township of Picton (population 4,000) lies at the head of Queen Charlotte Sound and is the arrival point for ferries from the North Island, as well as a growing number of international cruise ships. It plays a major role in providing services and transport by water taxi to a multitude of remote communities in the vast area of islands, peninsulas, and waterways that make up the Marlborough Sounds Maritime Park. There's plenty to do in town, with crafts markets in summer, historical sights to see, and walking tracks to scenic lookouts over the sounds. The main foreshore is lined by London Quay, which looks up Queen Charlotte Sound to the bays beyond. High Street runs down to London Quay from the hills, and between them these two streets make up the center of town.
DAY 6 Day At Sea
Days at sea are the perfect opportunity to relax, unwind and catch up with what you’ve been meaning to do. So whether that is going to the gym, visiting the spa, whale watching, catching up on your reading or simply topping up your tan, these blue sea days are the perfect balance to busy days spent exploring shore side.
Day 7 Cruising Milford Sound
New Zealand fiord country along with Fiordland National Park is one of New Zealand's premier attractions. Incredibly beautiful, wild and remote, the region is an intriguing combination of rugged mountain ranges, dense rainforest, solitary alpine lakes, sparkling rivers and splashing waterfalls. Much of Fiordland is virtually unexplored wilderness and still the habitat of rare birds. As the ship cruises the beautiful Doubtful, Dusky and Milford Sounds, experience the majestic fiordland of South Island's western coast. Captain James Cook sailed along this coast in 1770 and again in 1773, when he anchored at Dusky Sound for a rest and ship repair. Doubtful Sound is one of the region's most majestic fiords. It is ten times larger than Milford Sound. As the ship cruises into Hall Arm, gaze at vertical cliffs and mighty waterfalls plunging over sheer rock faces. In fine weather, mountains and greenery are reflected in the protected waters of the fiord.
Farther north lies Milford Sound. Far from any populated area, Milford Sound is famous for its grandeur and spectacular beauty. It is perhaps the best example of New Zealand's renowned classic landscape of steep granite peaks framing glacier-carved inlets with mirrored reflections on dark waters. Dominating the scene is Milford's landmark, the triangular pinnacle of Mitre Peak. Along the sheer cliffs, several waterfalls tumble more than 500 feet (154 metres) into the sheltered Sound. Only a few moored boats and a scattering of buildings at the head of the Sound break the unity of mountains, forest and water. This spectacular beauty and unspoiled setting is yours to enjoy as the ship cruises Milford Sound.
DAY 8 Cruising Dusky Sound
Despite being discovered by Cook more than 240 years ago, Dusky Sound is one of the few truly untouched destinations left on earth. Found on the southwest corner of New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park, Dusky Sound has the auspicious title of “titanic mason” given to it by the Maoris, as no other explanation seems to fit; it is almost impossible to comprehend the sheer breadth of geological events that created this seemingly perfect sculpture, as the sheer cliffs that rise vertically upward from the ocean dwarf the ship. This incredibly beautiful fiord offers many magical wildernesses and stunning scenery that bathe in “Lord of the Rings” grandeur. A breeding site for Fiordland Penguins, Dusky Sound is an important ornithological area too, with a wealth of birdlife to be found here. This remote, untouched region is also home to a wide range of sea life, as the fresh and salt water combine to create an extraordinary aquatic environment.
An unforgettable journey for both the experienced and the uninitiated, anyone looking to visit a place unmarked by the passage of time will be spoilt its breathtaking beauty.
DAY 9 The Snares
DAY 10 Bluff
The most southernmost town in New Zealand, Bluff (or The Bluff as it is locally known) is perhaps the most European of all the settlements in the country. Called Campbelltown until 1917, the city was officially renamed after the 265 meter conical hill that towers above it. One of the farthest corners of the British Empire, the inaugural Royal Tour of New Zealand by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, concluded at Bluff in January 1954. Nowadays however, it is the Bluff oysters that are the stars of the show. Reputed to be the best in the world, these local heroes are what have really put Bluff on the map and are celebrated every May with a lively festival honouring Ostrea chilensis (that’s Latin for Bluff oyster). But gastronomy aside (and it is mostly oyster related), Bluff offers the adventurous traveller much in the way activity.
Gateway to Stewart Island, day trippers here might enjoy hopping on the ferry for the hour long trip to Stewart Island, or New Zealand’s third island. Unspoilt, tranquil and stunning, Stewart Island is a showcase for New Zealand’s undiscovered tourism spots due to its privileged (yet remote) position in the world. However, for those who wish to stay on the mainland, the Bluff Maritime Museum is a “must visit” for anyone travelling along the Southern Scenic Route, with fascinating historical information about the many early shipwrecks in these challenging southern waters and coastlines. The comprehensive network of walking tracks will delight the ornithologists amongst you – just don’t forget your binoculars!
DAY 11 Dunedin (South Island)
Clinging to the walls of the natural amphitheater at the west end of Otago Harbour, the South Island's second-largest city is enriched with inspiring nearby seascapes and wildlife. Because Dunedin is a university town, floods of students give the city a vitality far greater than its population of 122,000 might suggest. Its manageable size makes it easy to explore on foot—with the possible exception of Baldwin Street, the world's steepest residential street and home to the annual "gutbuster" race, in which people run up it, and the "Jaffa" race, in which people roll the namesake spherical chocolate candy down it.Dunedin, the Gaelic name for Edinburgh, was founded in 1848 by settlers of the Free Church of Scotland, a breakaway group from the Presbyterian Church.
The city's Scottish roots are still visible; you'll find New Zealand's first and only (legal) whisky distillery, a statue of Scottish poet Robert Burns, and more kilts, sporrans, and gillies than you can shake a stick at! The Scottish settlers and local Maori came together in relative peace, but this wasn't true of the European whalers who were here three decades before, as places with names such as Murdering Beach illustrate.Dunedin has always had a reputation for the eccentric. Wearing no shoes and a big beard here marks a man as bohemian rather than destitute, and the residents wouldn't have it any other way. The University of Otago was the country's first university and has been drawing writers ever since its founding in 1871, most notably Janet Frame and the poet James K. Baxter. Dunedin also has a musical heritage, which blossomed into the "Dunedin Sound" of the 1970s and '80s.
All This Included
Aotearoa or New Zealand, one of the world’s most isolated countries is also one of the greatest. Its small compass houses an amazing range of scenery, incorporating just about every natural phenomena that you can think of - geysers, volcanoes, fjords, mountains and stunning wildlife. Yet this is not only a voyage of unforgettable landscapes, expect also sophisticated cities and architectural jewels along the way.
Cruising: Cabin onboard Silver Explorer
Terms and Conditions
For Silversea terms and conditions, please click here.
* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.