It’s summer in New Zealand and that means repositioning time to the Southern Hemisphere waters for many cruise lines. This season 2016/17 is unprecedented with the number of ships sailing to Auckland for its six-month season.
The first ship repositioning from the Northern Hemisphere was the Celebrity Solstice, which arrived in Auckland on 4 October. Other visitors include Royal Caribbean’s 4,180 passenger Ovation of the Seas, notably the biggest vessel ever to sail in these waters.
Not to be outdone by size, the largest Princess ship, the 3082 passenger Emerald Princess, will make her appearance in Milford Sound, located on New Zealand’s South Island, in November.
After departing from Singapore, the luxury Seabourn Encore will arrive in January at Milford Sound and cruise through several scenic points of interest within the Fiordland National Park. This is followed by several other New Zealand ports on its way to Wellington.
Holland America Line’s Maasdam will dock in Tauranga, whilst Azamara Journey, Norwegian Star, Europa 2 and Oceania Cruises’ Sirena are also first timers in New Zealand.
“New Zealand’s popularity as one of the world’s hottest cruise destinations will be clearly evident this summer,” Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Australasia commercial director Brett Jardine said. “Not only will there be more ships visiting than ever before, there will be scores of inaugural calls around the country as cruise lines extend their itineraries to take in a wider range of beautiful ports around the North and South Islands.”
There is more to New Zealand than kiwis! This Pacific nation offers a landscape that is difficult to surpass as well as city style interests.
Port of Auckland
Refurbished in 2013, Auckland’s Shed 10 (main cruise terminal) is located on Queens Wharf. Most sites in the city centre are within walking distance. There is a hop-on, hop-off bus service that will take you to the main points of interests. Also, the tourist information office is located by the entrance to the port.
Things to do
Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand and located on the northern end of the north island and is an opportunity to feast on so many diverse interests.
Sky Tower is 328 meters over the city and offers unlimited views to the surrounding region. For those not faint at heart, walk around the outside along the open skywalk with a harness or for true daredevils, base-jump by wire off the tower. Don’t fret, because if you are too frightened, you can remain inside the observation deck and enjoy the views.
For significant collections of natural, social, military history, memorabilia and culture related to the South Pacific visit the War Memorial Museum.
Mount Eden is an extinct volcano. Heading towards its summit provides a grand view of the Auckland skyline.
With perhaps a swim in mind, take a ferry out to Devonport and explore the beaches on the North Shore.
Port of Wellington
Wellington is small and compact and encircled by mounts of elevation. It is a vivacious inner city experience that comes with some gorgeous scenery.
Located in the centre of Wellington, smaller vessels tend to dock at Queens Wharf cruise terminal. This presents passengers with direct access to the city centre and walking about is easy.
The Mega ships dock at Aotea Quay located in an industrial area. It’s a 20 minute walk to the city. However, a shuttle is provided from the cruise terminal to the centre. Tickets can be obtained onboard your ship.
Things to do
For stunning views of the city and harbour get yourself a ticket for the bright red Kelburn Cable Car. Within four minutes, climb directly to the hilltop town of Kilburn right from the waterfront in a cable car that remains on the ground and not in the air.
Maritime devotees can visit the Museum of Wellington, City and Sea. Besides an abundance of maritime memorabilia, the museum is known for its replica of the harbour including reproduction model ships.
Opened in 1998, the National Museum and Art Gallery (known as Te Papa) offers a brilliant way to experience the culture and people of New Zealand. They utilise awareness through a stimulating combination of interactive displays and the latest technology.
Gearing towards Middle Earth
One of the biggest movie franchises has been “The Lord of the Rings” and more recently, “The Hobbit” and are based on J.R.R Tolkien’s novels. Film director, Peter Jackson is native to New Zealand and the filming took place on location in his home country.
The time is right for a jaunt to New Zealand to experience the paths to Mordor and beyond. Your ship’s tour office has many options to make a full day of your Hobbiton experience.
Where could anyone actually experience Middle Earth other than at the movies? You can right in New Zealand. So follow the footsteps of your favourite Tolkien character and don’t miss out on this chance.
Written by Veronica Shine