Cruisers Experience New Zealand’s Diverse Activities

Cruisers Experience New Zealand’s Diverse Activities

If you thought Ireland’s landscape was as green as it gets, pack your bags for a cruise to New Zealand and see why this beautiful island country should earn the name Emerald Isle as well.

Holland America Line cruises around New Zealand and calls at ports like Auckland, Dunedin, Christchurch, Picton, Napier, Tauranga and Wellington.

Here are some of the shore excursions that best show off this country and give an in-depth exploration in a variety of active levels.

The kiwi trees of New Zealand.

The kiwi trees of New Zealand.

From the Rotorua, Tauranga, the Glorious Bay of Plenty: Rich Land, Rich Culture tour explores the incredible abundance and productivity of the land in the aptly named Bay of Plenty.

Participants get to meet a Maori family who are descendants of the migrants who arrived on the first ocean-going canoes from central Polynesia more than 650 years ago. Then, walk under the green and gold kiwifruit vines and marvel at the extraordinary volume and quality of fruit produced here. Almost all of New Zealand’s world-famous kiwifruit crop is grown on this small pocket of land. After a freshly prepared morning or afternoon tea, enjoy an exclusive visit (not open to the general public) to the stunning coastal headland site of a centuries-old Maori fortification and its stunning, 360-degree panoramic views and its strategic location that has been so prized and so ardently contested by neighboring Maori tribes.

Kiwi farm was very interesting, the guide really knew his product. Enjoyed the morning tea with kiwi fruit jam, slices of green and gold kiwi fruit and a glass of kiwi fruit juice. The Maori group were very entertaining and gave great explanations about their culture … Our guide Charles a Maori person gave us the ultimate courtesy, he invited us into his own backyard to see for ourselves the beautiful Bay of Plenty, that was a privilege. — Guest Valla

The beautiful gardens of Crosshills in Auckland.

The beautiful gardens of Crosshills in Auckland.

In Auckland, the Waitomo Caves & Countryside tour takes guests to the Waikato River Valley to follow the course of the river through the fertile farmlands of the region to the coal-mining town of Huntly.

The Waitomo Glowworm Caves. Photo courtesy waitomo.com.

The Waitomo Glowworm Caves. Photo courtesy waitomo.com.

Continue south past Taupiri (a mountain that is sacred to the Maori people) to the town of Ngaruawahia, the seat of the Maori King. From here travel by way of the rural township of Pirongia to Waitomo. This is where you will venture underground for a guided walk through the world-famous Waitomo Glow-Worm Cave, passing striking limestone formations that include the famous Organ and the lofty chamber called the Cathedral. You will come to a jetty deep underground, and step into a non-motorized longboat for perhaps the most intriguing part of your adventure — a ride in complete silence on an underground river. Your destination is a cavern spangled with the radiant blue/green bioluminescent lights of millions of tiny glow-worms. The worms are very sensitive to sound, and will extinguish their lights if you speak.

Leaving the caves, you’ll travel to Kio Kio, where Crosshills is located. This is the lovely home of Fraser and Debbie Robertson, whose English-designed garden is a delight to visit. Walkways lure you to explore each area further. A delicious home-cooked lunch is served at Crosshills.

We were delighted with this experience. The beautiful drive through the countryside, the caves were stunning, luncheon was casual and yummy in an wonderful home setting with beautiful gardens. — Guest Bellaverde

NZ_jeepNew Zealand is home to an abundance of flora and fauna, and on the Seal Coast Safari tour at Wellington, seals take center stage.

This half-day safari offers a unique view of the rugged beauty of the South Coast where the seal colony is situated. Travel is by 4×4 vehicle, with much of the driving over unpaved roads and along the beach. In addition, you’ll traverse a large coastal ranch or station, where wild goats and horses may be seen, as well as deer, ostriches and beef cattle, and where you’ll hear tales of the early farmers’ exploits.

Tongue Point is home to the New Zealand fur seal and the famous Leaning Lighthouse. Here, you will have the opportunity to get close to the seals as they bask on the rocks and go for frequent swims in the sea in search of food. Tea or coffee is served as you commune with the seals, before you journey around the rocky bays and black-sand beaches back to Wellington.

This safari is definitely worth doing if you like wildlife. We saw so many seals! The safari started off by driving through the city of Wellington and the driver of the 4×4 was also our guide. He told us about Wellington itself and answered our questions because there were 8 passengers total in our vehicle. He took us up into the hills where there are windmills and we had clear views of the harbor and the city … We were able to see an ostrich in the farmland that we were passing through … You drive on the beach so be prepared for rough road, but it is all worth it when you see the seals. Don’t get too close and you will be rewarded with fabulous pictures. — Guest CruisinCrazy

Kayaking on the Waitangi Estuary tour.

Kayaking on the Waitangi Estuary tour.

Guests who like an active adventure can take the Kayaking on the Waitangi Estuary tour at the Bay of Islands. Participants kayak in the beautiful Waitangi Estuary. Along the way you will see a proliferation of mangroves, whose extensive root systems extend both above and below the waterline. These unique trees are the lifeblood of this estuary and a favorite breeding ground for many small fish. At the end of the Waitangi Estuary you will reach Haruru Falls, at the edge of the Waitangi Forest. Although not especially high, the Haruru Falls are still a spectacular sight.

Kayaking is a great way to get a little exercise after a few “sea days.” Although the weather was typical for early Spring…a little sunny, a little cloudy, a little rainy, we had a great time paddling up the river to the falls. A real plus was being able to see so many birds all the way up the river! There were Spoonbills on the shore, beautiful New Zealand Kingfishers, and many Shags to name a few. We did a short stop at a camper park for some hot tea and Milo (NZ hot chocolate) and cookies before heading back down the river. Wonderful morning! Great guides and even those who had not been kayaking before were able to do this trip easily. — Guest Islandgirl

With all of the incredible tours in the ports of New Zealand, the region also offers some wonderful scenic cruising opportunities. The area is known for Fiordland National Park and its Milford, Dusky and Doubtful Sounds. Guest Patti Morrison sent us her favorite photo of Milford Sound from her Oosterdam cruise.


Holland America Line offers more than 4,000 shore excursions in destinations throughout the world. Recently been on a Holland America Line tour? Thinking about taking a tour? Click HERE and give other guests the benefit of your experience by writing a review of your tour online. You also can find more reviews and read what guests think about the tours.


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One Comment

  1. Mechelle Bernstein April 26, 2014 at 3:48 pm - Reply

    Fascinating!!! New Zealand sure has some treasures that may be enjoyed and explored. I would love to see the wildlife and flora so apparently abundant. You shall surely see me sometime in the near future…….

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