New Zealand’s isolation in the South Seas as the last major land mass before the continent of Antarctica makes it an extremely intriguing destination. The two islands that make up New Zealand are surprisingly different. The North Island’s sophisticated cities of Auckland and capital Wellington are a must while the South Island is awash with spectacular mountains, lakes and glaciers. It’s just like an Alaska of the South Seas. Once you have braved the long transpacific flight, chances are you’ll set sail from Australia. Sydney and Melbourne are the main hubs for Australia and New Zealand cruises, but there are countless options rather than just round trip sailings across the Tasman Sea. South Pacific cruises calling at destinations such as New Caledonia, Vanuatu or Fiji include one or more calls in New Zealand. That’s the beauty of cruising down under. Very few short cruises can offer up such contrasts as pristine subtropical beaches and snow-capped mountains and glaciers like a New Zealand cruise vacation.
A majority of cruise itineraries out of Australia will call at New Zealand ports and such is the popularity of cruising in this corner of the world, virtually every cruising style is catered to. Mainstream family-friendly cruise lines like P&O Australia are a good bet with very affordable fares and abundant itinerary options. Luxury New Zealand cruises from Crystal Cruises, Silversea and more are offered during the short summer peak season, while more adventurous Australia and New Zealand expedition cruises unlock the spectacular mountains and glaciers of South Island, especially through land tours.
The New Zealand cruise season begins in October through April. This is the southern hemisphere summer season with the peak cruising months from December to February. Having browsed through travel guides showcasing New Zealand’s lush green landscapes, it will come as no surprise to learn the country receives ample rainfall. It can rain at any time of year, and temperatures can vary widely between the subtropical North Island and the much cooler South Island.
The peak summer period is also the main vacation season in Australia and New Zealand, so the main tourist areas and natural attractions are fairly busy. It is also a time when fares for cruises to Australia and New Zealand are at their highest. Although departures are limited and the weather more changeable, cruising New Zealand waters in September, late April or May is much cheaper and the tourist crowds are thinner. New Zealand cruise itineraries are predominantly round trips from Eastern Australian ports such as Sydney or Melbourne, although Auckland is popular stop on world cruises as well as longer South Pacific cruises. There are also occasional cruises to New Zealand from the US as part of repositioning at the start of the Australia cruise season or as part of a world cruise.