More people are sailing away with New Zealand's Cruises

New Zealand’s popularity as a cruise destination has skyrocketed in the last few years, with cruise passenger numbers in 2014 almost 80 per cent higher than they were five years ago. More British tourists are embarking on cruises to New Zealand, with a 25% increase in cruise-related tourism from the UK in the last five years. 125 cruises are expected to bring 200,000 passengers and 88,000 crew from all corners of the globe to New Zealand in 2015.

Whether it’s a 2-week extravaganza, a day trip or an overnight cruise, seeing New Zealand from the water is a fantastic way to see the country, with cruise routes typically taking in regions such as Fiordland, Port Chalmers, Akaroa, Wellington, Napier, Tauranga, Auckland and the Bay of Islands.

For a more intimate cruise experience, Tourism New Zealand rounds up five of the best overnight options. There’s something to suit everyone, whether you’re a thrill-seeking adrenaline junkie or prefer the finer things in life at a more sedate pace.


Come aboard The Rock, New Zealand’s biggest houseboat, for a unique overnight cruise in the beautiful Bay of Islands. Departing from the seaside town of Paihia, The Rock offers comfortable and relaxed accommodation for up to 36 guests. All cabins are situated on the top floor for optimum sea views, with both private and shared rooms available. Suitable for travellers of any age, the cruise offers the chance to try your hand at a range of activities including snorkelling, target shooting and fishing at dusk. After dinner, go for a night-time paddle in a kayak, your seat to take in a starry night’s sky or see the ocean’s luminous phosphorescence close-up. With opportunities to explore nearby islands and learn from the knowledgeable crew, The Rock’s Overnight Cruise is a fun and memorable way to learn about the Bay of Islands.

For the ultimate Milford Sound experience, spend the night aboard the Mariner and wake up to the dawn of a new day in one of the most beautiful places on earth. Depart from the Milford Sound wharf in the late afternoon and cruise the full length of Milford Sound accompanied by a specialist nature guide. They will explain the history and geology of the area and be on hand to answer your questions. The cruise style is relaxed, allowing plenty of time to view the fiord’s spectacular waterfalls, rainforest, mountains and wildlife. You are likely to meet some of the local residents, including the seals, dolphins or penguins known to frequent the region. The Milford Mariner then anchors in a sheltered cove, where you can join the nature guide and explore in the vessel’s tender craft (small boat) and kayaks. Or, if you prefer, you can simply relax on deck and soak in the beauty of this amazing place or go for a swim (if you’re brave enough). As evening falls, enjoy a delicious carvery buffet in the dining saloon, prepared freshly by our on-board chef. Then relax in the company of fellow travellers or indulge in some star-gazing before retiring to your private cabin. 


Experience a unique one-night cruise around Auckland’s harbour and outlying islands with Hauraki Blue Cruises. Step on board the cruise ship Ipipiri, setting off from Viaduct Harbour in downtown Auckland. While gliding through the sparkling waters of the Waitemata Harbour, take in Auckland harbour highlights like the Harbour Bridge, Bean Rock Lighthouse and Devonport. As you cruise, your skipper will point out key landmarks including the Hauraki Gulf islands, each with its own distinct personality. Glide by iconic Rangitoto Island, formed by a huge volcanic eruption around 600 years ago; neighbouring Motutapu, one of the earliest places inhabited by Māori; Motuihe, where German prisoner of war Count Felix von Luckner plotted a daring escape; and Browns Island, another volcanic island with a fascinating history. You’ll also see Waiheke Island with its golden sandy beaches, vineyards and mixture of quaint Kiwi holiday homes and luxury mansions. Enjoy the relaxed environment on board your Hauraki Blue cruise, where you can choose to do as much or as little as you like. Try kayaking or snorkelling in the clear Pacific Ocean waters, before relaxing with a refreshing drink on the top deck as the sun sets.


Stay out in Raglan Harbour on-board the deluxe houseboat Wahine Moe. Sleeping up to ten, the Wahinemoe provides the opportunity to check out local wildlife, get close-up views of the ancient limestone rock formations, and soak up the sun. During the summer season start your journey with a memorable two hour public sunset harbour cruise. On return to the wharf the sunset cruise passengers will disembark, before you are taken out to a private mooring in the harbour. The ‘floatel’ will be yours for the night, as the skipper departs for the evening. During winter you will board the Wahine Moe late in the afternoon, cruising around Raglan Harbour to your overnight mooring.  Enjoy the harbour in all its glory until 10:30am the following day when the skipper will return to take you back to shore. The Wahine Moe sleeps up to ten people comfortably, with high quality bed linens and pillows used throughout.  


Enjoy an afternoon on board the Greenshell Mussel Cruise, who offer a luxurious seafood tour, departing from either Picton or Havelock Marina, around the iconic Marlborough Sounds. Passengers are able to sit back, relax and appreciate the stunning scenery whilst sipping on a delectable Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, which is been paired with the freshly steamed mussels available to sample. Learn about the history of the Marlborough Sounds before visiting a Greenshell Mussel farm, and welcome the tranquil surroundings of Peloros Sound and Kenepuru Sound.

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