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New Zealand's East Coast | Auckland - Milford Sound | 12 Nights

New Zealand’s East Coast

12 Nights | Departs Auckland 27 December 2021 | Arrives Milford Sound 08 January 2022

Explore over 7,000km of New Zealand’s spectacular coastline while experiencing vibrant Maori culture and discovering wildlife species in their natural habitats. From Auckland, this voyage takes you to the pastoral wine country of Hawke’s Bay which gives way to the wild coastlines of the South Island, where our journey continues to the deep and quiet fiords of Murihiku – Southland.

Aboard Coral Geographer, experience New Zealand from a different perspective, as free time and the ability to customise your expedition from a choice of experiences in historic cities is contrasted with wilderness experiences guided by our knowledgeable expedition team. By small ship, enjoy access to remote and difficult-to-reach wilderness areas within the Marlborough Sounds and Fiordland, and visit sheltered coves and islands to find fur seals, kakapos, and pods of friendly dolphins.

We pride ourselves on our eco-conscious values as we visit these pristine regions with the greatest respect and care. You will be amazed at the sight of New Zealand’s unforgettable landscape from the deck of a small ship.

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Expedition highlights

  • In the Marlborough Sounds, enjoy a New Year’s Eve feast anchored at historic Ship Cove, featuring produce and wine from the Marlborough region.
  • Walk through the lush Waimangu Volcanic Valley, the world’s youngest geothermal valley
  • Stroll through the quiet forests of Ulva Island to spot New Zealand’s iconic birds, including the Stewart Island Weka, South Island Saddleback, Yellow-and Red-crowned Parakeet (Kakariki) and Rifleman (New Zealand’s smallest bird).
  • Experience the vibrant energy and stories of Maori culture, with a Kapa Haka and greeting at Hauiti Marae
  • Discover the unique character of east coast towns, from the French-influenced Akaroa to Dunedin’s Scottish heritage and Napier’s distinctive art deco character
  • Taste the renowned wines produced in the Hawke’s Bay and Marlborough regions on our specially curated New Zealand wine list
  • Encounter many species of endemic birds and marine wildlife, including the Fiordland crested penguin, Yellow-eyed penguin, little penguin and New Zealand fur seal in Southland, the Sperm Whale in Kaikoura, and the dusky dolphin and Hector’s dolphin at Akaroa
  • Enjoy walks through spectacular scenery in the Marlborough Sounds and the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway
  • Explore four of Fiordland’s most beautiful sounds – the astonishing and rarely visited Dusky and Doubtful Sounds, Thomson Sound, and otherworldly Milford Sound.  Observe the wildlife, discover the history, and be immersed in the stillness of unforgettable Southland

 

Fares

CORAL Geographer TWIN SHARE PER PERSON SOLE USE*
Bridge Deck Suite $19,490 n/a
Explorer Deck Stateroom $14,820 $22,230
Promenade Deck Stateroom $11,890 $17,835
Coral Deck Stateroom $9,920 $14,880

Prices are per person, listed in Australian Dollars (AUD) and include GST.  *Limited sole use occupancy available.

Auckland - Queenstown Coral Expeditions

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The Itinerary

Embark: Board at Auckland Harbour’s Queens Wharf at 4:00 pm for 5:00 pm departure.
Disembark: Arrive and disembark at Deepwater Basin in Milford Sound at 08:00 am for coach transfers to Queenstown (approx arrival 1:30 pm).

Day 1: Auckland

Make your way to Auckland’s Queens Wharf to board Coral Geographer at 3:30 pm. We depart the ‘city of sails’ at 5:00 pm to make our way into the Hauraki Gulf; with its string of islands guarding the harbour, including the iconic Rangitoto Island – a dormant volcano. Take in the sights while enjoying the Captain’s welcome drinks and meeting the crew and your fellow passengers.

Day 2: Tauranga & Waimangu Valley

Waimangu means ‘black water’ – this fascinating place was named for the geyser that regularly erupted here until 1904. Waimangu is the world’s youngest volcanic valley, and there is much to see: spectacular volcanic craters, enormous hot water springs, and many birds. Enjoy views of mysterious and beautiful Inferno Crater which rises and falls as it heats and cools.

Waimangu Volcanic Valley is home to Frying Pan Lake, one of the largest hot water springs in the World. Brilliantly coloured microbes cloak the hot rocks. Tiny springs and geysers play. Wonder at the unusual plants that grow on the hot earth of Waimangu, surrounded by forests.

Day 3: Gisborne

Gisborne is rich in historical significance.  Captain Cook first came ashore in New Zealand here in 1769, and the European settlers met with the local Maori tribes on the banks of the Tūranganui River.  Old Maori traditions also record this region, specifically Titirangi Hill as the point of arrival for the first Maori canoe to arrive in the area.  Here, we will venture to the small township of Tolaga Bay, where we will be welcomed at the Hauiti Marae. Enjoy a traditional Maori welcome and the Kapa Haka cultural show, with a guided viewing of the marae.  Have the opportunity to visit the historic Tolaga Bay wharf before returning to Gisborne.

Day 4: Napier

This morning, cruise into Hawke’s Bay and anchor at the city of Napier, which contains one of the largest concentrations of art deco architecture in the world.  In 1931 Napier was destroyed by an earthquake that shook Hawke’s Bay for more than 3 minutes, flattening the city. Rebuilding began, and the new buildings reflected the architectural styles of the times – stripped classical, Spanish mission and art deco. Few other places in the world have such a deep identity with these architectural styles, and Napier’s stylish shops and fabulous restaurants and bars echo the classic atmosphere.

Napier is surrounded by the award-winning wineries of the Hawke’s Bay Region, one of the world’s great wine regions. With a temperate maritime climate and plentiful sunshine, the region is similar to Bordeaux, France, and produces a wide range of different styles but is best known for red blends and Chardonnay.

Two tour options are available here – choose between a city tour to uncover the remarkable architecture and history of the city – from the earthquake and rebuilding, through to the growth of the vibrant wine industry, and finishing with a flight of wines at New Zealand’s oldest winery, Mission Estate Winery. Alternatively, enjoy an excursion to the world’s largest mainland gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers, with spectacular views of this dramatic coastline.

Day 5 & 6: Marlborough Sounds

Marlborough Sounds Coral Expeditions

The ancient river valleys that form the Marlborough Sounds make up 20% of New Zealand’s coastline. The webs of sunken channels are surrounded by forest-cloaked peaks and vineyards, all of which present a breathtaking view from any perspective.

This lush region produces much of New Zealand’s seafood, and 80% of its wine. The fertile soil in this region supported the country’s first known Polynesian settlement in the late 1200s AD at Wairau Bar.

After a relaxing day at sea cruising across Cook Strait to the South Island, we anchor at historic Ship Cove to ring in the New Year. Enjoy a special feast featuring a selection of Marlborough Sounds produce and world-renowned wines.

Spend New Year’s Day exploring Queen Charlotte Sound. Discover the dolphins and seals of the sounds with marine spotting from the Xplorer and enjoy wonderful birdwatching on walks through Motuara Island birdlife sanctuary.  Guided by our expedition team and lecturers, there will be options to hike a section of the spectacular Queen Charlotte Track, or shorter walks available.  The history of the region is also brought to life with our visit to Ship Cove, where informative storyboards tell of Captain Cook’s time here. Finish the day with a scenic cruise up the length of the sound before we depart for our next destination.

Day 7: Kaikoura

Kaikoura Whale Coral Expeditions

Ringed by the breathtaking snow-dusted Seaward Kaikoura Ranges, the picturesque town of Kaikoura is renowned as possibly the best whale watching destination in the world. Kaikoura is one of the very few places it is possible to observe the Sperm Whale! Aboard a small specialised vessel, we will explore the ocean in search of these amazing mammals, as well as fur seals, dusky and Hector’s dolphins and other migratory whales.

Kaikoura means ‘to eat crayfish’, and you may have the opportunity to taste the seafood available here. You will also have the opportunity walk through this small town to visit the museums, galleries, and cafes, before joining the expedition team on a guided walk over the peninsula to marvel at the spectacular scenery.

Day 8: Akaroa

Akaroa Coral Expeditions

This morning, sail into the long harbour of Akaroa, formed by the breached volcanic crater that makes up the Banks Peninsula. The village of Akaroa has the unique identity of being the only French settlement in New Zealand, and its charming cottages and French street names still carry that identity today.

Ringed by the pastoral rolling hills of the Peninsula, the scenic village was once a bustling whaling outpost. Here, guests have a choice of two included excursions – a harbour cruise with a local operator to spot marine wildlife or a visit to a traditional hill country farm operated by 7th generation descendants of the earliest French Settlers on Banks Peninsula. Guests will also have free time to explore the scenic village, and visit cafes inspired by French cuisine. A variety of short walks are available into the surrounding nature reserves, such as a walk to Newton’s Waterfall, guided by our expedition team.

Day 9: Dunedin

Dunedin Coral Expeditions

Dunedin, settled in and around an ancient volcanic crater, is known for its Scottish and Maori heritage. Named after the Scottish Gaelic name for Edinburgh, the city’s heritage buildings, cathedrals, and charming atmosphere share an old-world atmosphere. Dunedin City is regarded as New Zealand’s architectural heritage capital.

The Otago Peninsula is an area of exceptional diversity, and as we enter the long Otago Harbour, we will be welcomed with sights of the world’s only mainland breeding colony of northern royal albatross and a colony of yellow-eyed penguin  – the world’s rarest penguin – as well as Hookers sea lions. and various other unique species.

You will have time to explore the city at your own leisure: perhaps visit the famous Speight’s Brewery, art gallery, museum, and New Zealand’s oldest botanic gardens. There will also be a choice of included excursions with local operators – choose between a coach tour of the Otago Peninsula’s most scenic beaches and Dunedin’s highlights, or a railway journey through the rugged and spectacular Taieri River Gorge.

Day 10: Stewart & Ulva Islands

Known in Maori mythology as Te Punga o Te Waka – The Anchor Stone of Maui’s Canoe’ – Stewart Island (Rakiura) is New Zealand’s little known ‘third island’.  Apart from the communities on the island, many people never venture to remote Stewart Island.  Nearby Ulva Island is also found within the Rakiura National Park, offering a predator-free environment for rare and endangered birds including South Island Saddleback, Stewart Island Weka, NZ Pigeon/Kereru, South Island Kaka, Yellow- and Red-crowned Parakeet (Kakariki), Morepork, Rifleman (New Zealand’s smallest bird), New Zealand Fantail, South Island Tomtit, Stewart Island Robin, Yellowhead (Mohoua), Brown Creeper, Grey Warbler, New Zealand Bellbird and Tui.

On Ulva Island, a guided walk will provide the opportunity to spot a vast array of birdlife and hopefully a few fur seals lazing on the shore during the tour. There will be free time to explore the village of Oban, and a guided Xplorer cruise to Prices Point Whaling Station will unveil the history of the region.

Day 11-12: Fiordland: Dusky, Doubtful & Thomson Sounds

Fiordland National Park, a World Heritage site once described as the Eighth Wonder of the World by author Rudyard Kipling, is characterised by 14 fiords carving through just 215km of coastline.  These fiords were carved by glaciers over thousands of years, and you will see waterfalls cascading down the sheer cliffs, rainforest cloaking the steep ridges, and granite peaks reflected in the deep shimmering waters.

These mostly inaccessible and awe-inspiring landscapes were the mysterious source of powerful pounamu (New Zealand Jade), gathered by Maori from the riverbeds and boulders of the South Island – the only place it occurs.  While some European settlers took shelter here, the deep isolation and rugged terrain thwarted all except the toughest from staying. Many of the flora and fauna species have developed in relative isolation, so many of the diverse plants and animals are unique to the area.

Enter Fiordland National Park at dramatic Tamatea / Dusky Sound, and cruise among towering cliffs and sheet granite walls of Facile Harbour, cascading waterfalls, pass some of the 365 small islands and explore the depths of the inlets in the zodiacs.  Inaccessible by road, Tamatea / Dusky Sound is the largest and most complex of the Fiordland Sounds.  It is also a designated Important Bird Area for the Fiordland Penguins that breed here. We will also encounter the fur seals of Luncheon Cove.

Early in the morning, a dawn cruise traces Acheron Passage to Te Puaitaha / Breaksea Sound, surrounded by breathtaking landscapes on all sides as we retrace Cook’s journey. It is easy to imagine the small wooden Endeavour being dwarfed by the steep-sided fiords and encircled by the blanketing silence of the fog-cloaked peaks.

Doubtful Sound / Patea is the deepest and widest fiord, flanked by towering cliffs and adorned by cascading waterfalls.  The stillness and silence of this Fiord is compelling and unforgettable.  We will cruise into Doubtful Sound / Patea, and past the outer Seal Islands, Nee Islets and through ‘the Gut’, before cruising by Blanket Bay and into Te Awa-o-Tū / Thomson Sound. You may spot fur seals lounging on the rocks, pods of dolphins, and the Fiordland penguin. Tonight, enjoy the Captain’s Farewell Drinks.

This afternoon, we enter Milford Sound / Piopiotahi to a world-famous view of Mitre Peak, rising some 1,682 metres. Its triangular silhouette rises opposite beautiful Stirling Falls, falling from the top of a 162m high cliff between two towering ridges into the inky dark water. You may have a chance to feel the spray from the waterfall – according to Maori legend it will make you ten years younger! The steep overhanging cliffs are awe-inspiring as we cruise to Harrison Cove, where an ancient glacier entered the fiord, and visit Bowen Falls.

Day 13: Milford Sound & Queenstown

Milford Sound Coral Expeditions

This morning, disembark at Deepwater Basin, Milford Sound at 8:00 am before transferring by coach to Queenstown. The coach arrives in Queenstown at approximately 1:30 pm.

Our New Zealand itinerary is crafted to be flexible, allowing the Captain and Expedition Team to respond quickly to favourable weather conditions, and immerse you in the very best of New Zealand’s flora, fauna and wild coastline.

December 2021

Departure Departure Arrival Arrival Cost Per Person Cost PP Ship Availability  
27 December 2021 27 Dec 2021 08 January 2022 08 Jan 2022 $9,920 to $19,490 $9,920 to $19,490 Coral Geographer Available Book

January 2022

Departure Departure Arrival Arrival Cost Per Person Cost PP Ship Availability  
27 December 2021 27 Dec 2021 08 January 2022 08 Jan 2022 $9,920 to $19,490 $9,920 to $19,490 Coral Geographer Available Book

Your Cruise Price Includes

  • Expedition voyage aboard Coral Geographer as described in the itinerary
  • The services of an expert Expedition Team
  • All excursions, including Xplorer and zodiac cruises
  • Local operator excursions at some locations
  • All meals, prepared fresh by our chefs
  • Showcase wines, selected beers and soft drinks with lunch and dinner service
  • 24 hour coffee and selection of teas
  • Captain’s Welcome and Farewell Events, and Open Bridge Access with the Captain
  • Guided sightseeing in each destination
  • All entrance fees to National Parks and Ports
  • Post-cruise transfers to Queenstown

What’s Not Included

  • Travel insurance
  • Flights
  • Pre-cruise transfers
  • Entry visas or travel permits
  • Items of a personal nature including but not limited to phone and internet communications and bar charges (outside of the included drinks package as highlighted) laundry charges and souvenir purchases

Tipping not required

Other cruise lines automatically add gratitudes to your account and service charges to your bar invoices. At Coral Expeditions our crew have no other agenda than your delight.

Our friendly reservations specialists are on hand to assist with your booking arrangements to ensure your holiday runs as smoothly as possible. Contact our team on 1800 079 545 during business hours in Australia or email explore@coralexpeditions.com

SHORE EXCURSIONS

All excursions in New Zealand are included in your Coral Geographer cruise. Guests have the opportunity to tailor their expedition experience to their interests, with a choice of local operator excursions at certain locations. These excursions are included in the cruise fare and can be reserved at the time of booking.  Note that numbers may be limited on some excursion options.

TRAVEL INSURANCE

Comprehensive Travel Insurance is strongly recommended for all travellers. Please refer to our Pre-Departure page for facts that should be considered and shared when speaking with Travel Insurance suppliers.

SailSAFE

As always, it is our priority to keep our guests and crew safe while travelling with us. We want our guests and crew to have the greatest confidence that their safety and wellbeing have been thoroughly considered. Please read our SailSAFE plan for the requirements of each passenger prior to joining us.

Photos From Your Expedition

Following your expedition, you will receive a link by email to free download the images taken throughout your voyage by our Expedition Team. Please make sure that you have provided our reservations team with your relevant email address.

Additional Information