Region Overviews: New Zealand Travel Guide: Overview
Whether you’re seeking unique wildlife, world-class restaurants, pristine hiking, unmatched cultural experiences or tropical beaches, New Zealand brings it all together.
Discover an island paradise in the South Pacific. A pristine ocean perfect for a swim, its inlets perfect for kayaking. But it's mountainous too. Experience the dramatic cliffs of Milford Sound, then cruise past penguins in breathtaking fjords. The journey continues in sensational wine country, tasting Hawke's Bay's full-bodied cabernet along the way. Paradise awaits. Come sail away to New Zealand.
THIS ITINERARY: 10 days, 9 nights
ACCOMMODATIONS: Premiere Ship
Start Dunedin / End Auckland
Start/End locations may vary. Do not book flights until your trip details are confirmed.
DAY 1 Hike on the Otago Peninsula, where sheer bluffs plummet to the sea at Lovers Leap | Meet the locals: yellow-eyed penguins, fur seals and sea lions | Splendid Dunedin, the main city in the Otago region, delights with Scottish charm and architecture.
DAYS 2-3 Cruise along the Dusky Sound, one of the most stunning fjords on the coastline | Follow in the footsteps of Captain Cook's famous 1773 voyage | Sail through the extraordinary Milford Sound beneath towering cliffs laced with waterfalls and covered with dense foliage | Native birdlife abounds amid beech forests, scrubland and alpine tarns.
DAYS 4-5 Kick back on the ship's sundeck for a relaxing day at sea | Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins as you sail along the western coast | Hike on Queen Charlotte Track, a favorite trail for locals and visitors alike | Cruise on Mistletoe Bay's aqua waters | Journey from New Zealand's South to North Island.
DAYS 6-7 New Zealand's fascinating history is on display at Te Papa Museum | Soak up stunning scenery during a walk on the Otari-Wilton's Bush track | Enjoy the vibrant pulse of the New Zealand capital | Pedal through Hawke's Bay, a wine region known for its luscious cabernet | Follow the Tukituki River to Havelock North, a thriving arts community.
DAYS 8-10 Cruise to volcanic White Island and marvel at its steaming fumaroles | Kayak the tranquil waters of McLaren Lake and its wild fern canyons | Bid farewell to the ship in picturesque Auckland, set among volcanic mountains, islands and harbors dotted with sailboats.
These luxurious and sleek vessels have an intimate French atmosphere and boast an open-air bar, three lounges and a team of master chefs crafting gourmet dishes. (pool, spa)
The earlier you book, the more choice you'll have and the lower your price. And you can always change your mind — you won't be charged to transfer to a different trip before your final payment is due. View cancellation policy
Please note: Due to the multiple stateroom options available on this trip, reservations can only be made by contacting one of our Trip Consultants on 800-462-2848 or via email.
Click on dates for pricing, itinerary variations and to book your trip. Price is per person, double occupancy.
Every Backroads trip is designed to appeal to a wide variety of interests and fitness levels. We know your pace may vary from one day to the next—and your traveling companion's may differ somewhat from yours. So we present a range of mileage options, and each day you decide exactly what and how much you want to do. LEARN MORE.
Note: The biking terrain on this trip ranges from flat to rolling. Please note that cars drive on the left in New Zealand, so we will also be riding on the left; this presents an additional challenge. Hiking routes consist of well-worn trails and are moderately hilly with some steeper sections.
We want to make sure you're on the right trip and that you have the best experience possible. Every Backroads trip is unique and this one is no exception.
The ships we sail on are like floating luxury hotels, so you can visit a new destination each day without touching your suitcase once you've settled in. Our ships are custom‐designed with a variety of inviting spaces that offer plenty of room for both relaxing and socializing. These ships are vastly smaller than most cruise ships, with up to just 150 passengers on our river trips and up to only 250 on our ocean trips.
We sail with up to 30 Backroads guests per group. Occasionally there may be more than one Backroads group onboard and you may cross paths with the other group on routes or at restaurants. When this occurs, each group will have their own dedicated onboard Backroads leaders.
If you're new to Backroads active cruise trips, there are a few things you need to know. Although our average group size is larger than a typical Backroads tour, our ship-based trips feel smaller and much more intimate than a typical cruise.Additionally, even with an itinerary subject to fixed nautical schedules, we get out and explore far beyond the cruise norm. Although our time ashore may be shorter than an average Backroads Hotel trip, you still have the option to select a route that matches your pace. In larger cities, you can decide to shift gears and opt for less active site-seeing activities. It's important to note, our time ashore can be limited due to changes in the nautical schedule and ship tendering.Being onboard a ship provides the benefit of being able to take advantage of ship amenities: the fitness room, spa, sauna and swimming pool. In addition, there is the opportunity to relax in the inviting common spaces or the privacy of your room, complete with balcony. Your Trip Leaders will have information on the array of options to choose from.If having longer routes or more flexibility to explore is important for you, we recommend choosing one of our River Cruise or Hotel trips. If you love meeting new people and having more time to relax aboard the ship, and enjoy the ease of unpacking once, you'll love our approach to active ocean cruising. Nobody does it like we do.
On our active cruises, we seek out diversity by including regionally authentic and inventive meals for onshore lunches, picnics and the occasional onshore dinner. On-ship meals, though delightful, are meant to appeal to a wide cross section of passengers and may at times feel more conventional and less reflective of the region than on Backroads hotel trips.
In contrast to our Hotel trips, which typically have similar room categories, the Ponant ships offer a wide range of stateroom categories to choose from. The top-tier staterooms often fill fast, so book as early as possible if this is important to you.