Top 5 things to do in New Zealand
From sweeping glaciers to long sandy beaches, Māori legends to wine-tasting, New Zealand has a dizzying list of sights and experiences to offer - and P&O can get you there in ultimate comfort and style, while giving you a whole new perspective on this stunning destination.
Whether you’re drifting through Milford Sound, exploring Middle Earth, or discovering the beauty of Fiordland, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Not sure where to begin? Here are our top 5 must-do activities during a cruise to New Zealand.
1. See the beauty of Fiordland & Milford Sound
Glide across glassy waters through the snow-capped mountains, sparkling glaciers and lush rainforests of Fiordland, New Zealand’s largest national park. Formed millions of years ago when huge glacial flows etched deep fiords into the coast, there are parts of this amazing park that are largely inaccessible, and can only be seen from a ship. Cruising is therefore one of the best ways to see this stunning landscape in all its glory, whether you’re up on deck or gazing out from your cosy accommodation.
With once in a lifetime, breath-taking views, a scenic cruise through the waters of Fiordland is something you’ll never forget. Located on the South Island, the National Park is one of New Zealand’s best natural wonders and a special part of the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage site. You’ll likely spot the adorable Fiordland crested penguin and southern brown kiwi in these areas, as they’re almost exclusively found within the park.
At the heart of Fiordland National Park lies the world famous Milford Sound fiord, surrounded by cliffs that stretch nearly a mile above its surface, making for an incredible vista that includes Mitre Peak. Rainforest grows across the steep cliffs, while waterfalls plummet into the mirror-like waters far below.
2. Discover natural wonders near Auckland
From a P&O cruise calling at Auckland, you can access a range of great Kiwi experiences to suit all kinds of interests, from vineyards to stalagtites.
If you’re up for an adventure, the Waitomo Glow Worm Grotto is not to be missed. From Auckland, you can travel to this geological wonder via a scenic drive past rolling green countryside and coastal views. Once in the Grotto, a small boat will take you across an underground river through limestone caves, softly illuminated by the flickering blue-green light of the resident glow worms. It’s an eerily beautiful experience.
Also a short trip away off the coast of Auckland is Waiheke Island. This charming haven is home to an amazing collection of vineyards, beaches, olive groves, and art galleries. Here you can explore pretty Oneroa Village, sip New Zealand’s finest wines at one of the many vineyards, or simply enjoy the stunning sea views and fresh air at a local cafe. There’s something for everyone.
3. Embrace outdoor adventure in the Bay of Islands
The Bay of Islands is an incredibly beautiful destination jam-packed with outdoor activities like dolphin watching, sailing, diving, kayaking, and more. One of the most popular things to do in New Zealand is to visit the Bay of Islands Hole in the Rock! Don’t worry, it’s a lot cooler than it sounds. The Hole is in fact a huge island tunnel so big it can fit medium-sized cruise boats through it. Which is exactly what you’ll be doing.
The P&O Bay of Islands Hole in the Rock cruise takes you through the magnificent inner islands of the Bay, known for its incredible variety of marine life. On the way, you may see some local dolphins, seals, fairy penguins and whales enjoying the local surrounds even more than you.
Once you’ve passed the historic towns of Paihia and Russell, you’ll enter the Bay of Islands channel, cruising toward Motukokako Island and the famous Hole in the Rock. Your catamaran will expertly negotiate the channel, taking you through the Hole to the magnificent Grand Cathedral Cave beyond.
4. Explore windy, wonderful Wellington
Discover the vibrant sights, sounds and tastes of the beautiful harbour city of Wellington. Wander the colourful streets, visit and botanic garden, and taste typical local treats like homestyle baking, regional cheeses, seasonal fruit, chocolate and local coffee.
Ready to enter another world? Experience Middle Earth in New Zealand! Not far from the beautiful harbour city of Wellington, visit the stunning locations that made the famous film trilogy what it is, and discover the true movie magic behind the Lord of the Rings. In a rare tour exclusive to P&O, you can enjoy a behind-the-scenes look at the making of "The Lord of the Rings" films with a visit to director Peter Jackson's custom built Weta Workshop.
Weta Workshop is the production studio behind not only Lord of the Rings, but also The Hobbit, Avatar, and King Kong, just to name a few. You’ll hear all about the creative process of the studio, told and guided by a member of the talented Weta Workshop crew - who will even show you the props, models and weapons they have helped make for the movies!
5. Immerse yourself in the history of Napier
If quirky culture, rich history, wineries and harbour views, then you’ll love a cruise calling in Napier. Learn about Māori culture, spot rare wildlife, or sit back and enjoy some gourmet local cheese and wine. There’s a lot to enjoy in this unique seaside location.
Napier happens to be the Art Deco capital of the world. After a devastating earthquake in the 1930s, the city was rebuilt with incredible Art Deco buildings - made even more interesting by the added influence of Māori motifs and design elements. It’s definitely a sight to see.
From Napier, you can pay a visit the Otatara Pa Historic Reserve, one of the largest and most ancient Māori pa sites in Hawke’s Bay. Here you’ll gain a richer appreciation for New Zealand’s indigenous people. Experience a traditional welcome, sample Māori cuisine, and see sacred sites to learn about the pou, or carved totems. Visit a native tree restoration area, and plant a New Zealand native tree sapling - a great way to give a little back to the beautiful land you’re enjoying.
Discover the magic of New Zealand with P&O
New Zealand has some of the most breathtaking natural landscapes, amazing activities and captivating cultures in the world - and with P&O cruises, it couldn’t be easier to get there. Depart from Sydney or Melbourne and cross the Tasman to experience the best of this beautiful country.Check out our range of New Zealand cruises today.