A road trip is the favoured way to tour New Zealand, but ocean cruising looks set to take over this summer Down Under.
For many Australians sailing across the Tasman Sea has become the preferred option when travelling to New Zealand for its stunning Lord of the Rings scenery. At the same time many New Zealanders also favour the cruise option to Australian ports.
New Zealand’s cruise season began this month with the arrival in Wellington of Royal Caribbean’s 2500- passenger Radiance of the Seas (royalcaribbean.com.au), and ends in May when Oceania Cruises’ smaller Insignia (oceaniacruises.com) sails from Auckland on a repositioning voyage to the northern hemisphere.
Cruise ships will make 124 voyages around New Zealand’s coastline this season, spending 712 days in ports across the North and South Islands. As well as major cities, cruise itineraries will feature emerging destinations such as Nelson, Kaikoura, and Stewart Island, home to New Zealand’s rare flightless Kiwi birds.
australiancruisingnews.com was lucky to spot one of the elusive Kiwi as dusk fell on a deserted New Zealand beach recently.
The busiest time for cruise arrivals in New Zealand will be in January and February when ports in Auckland, Tauranga, Akaroa and Fiordland will have days when three ships will arrive within hours of one another.
A regular visitor to New Zealand through summer will be Princess Cruises’ 2000-guest Dawn Princess, which is home-ported in Melbourne (Australia) for six months, with 14-day itineraries to New Zealand’s scenic locales.
Cross-Tasman cruises are seen as great value with a 14-night cruise from Brisbane to New Zealand and back on Sea Princess costing from $A85 a night for an inside cabin, princess.com.au