What to expect on a New Zealand cruise

In a region where the people are as inviting as the scenery, a cruise to New Zealand is a truly unforgettable experience. Expect stunning scenery, dramatic fiords, cosmopolitan cities, and lush green mountains.

Why choose a New Zealand cruise?

Internationally renowned lamb. World-class wines. Exploration. And rich Māori traditions. Whether it’s sipping a Sauvignon Blanc in a sun-drenched vineyard, navigating a glow-worm lit cave, or sailing within metres of whales, a cruise to New Zealand unlocks a swathe of sensory experiences.

Drink in the metropolitan and friendly atmosphere in the more populated north island, and the untamed natural wonders of the beautifully scenic south.

New Zealand is famed for its cities with a small-town feel and is known as a place to indulge your adventurous side. Embarking on a Cunard cruise here means you could be checking out the works of local indigenous artists in a hip gallery one day, and hiking to the summit of an extinct volcano the next.

Many ports offer dramatic viewpoints that reveal even more of the country’s breathtaking landscapes, and the vistas from your ship as you venture through the islands’ fiords are equally spectacular.

New Zealand cruise routes

Cruises to New Zealand with Cunard typically sail roundtrip from Melbourne or Sydney and include ports on both New Zealand’s north and south islands.

What cities are on a New Zealand cruise route?

Auckland, the country’s largest city, is a thriving hub. Stretched across a volcanic field on the north island, it offers picturesque scenery, welcoming locals, and fascinating Māori heritage - everything you would expect from an enchanting New Zealand city.

Christchurch, by contrast, has an elegantly Victorian flavour, backed by buildings bursting with traditional English heritage. Glide past leafy parklands as you take in the sights on the city tram or enjoy a leisurely stroll through the craggy Banks Peninsula with its walks and cycling tracks.

Where do New Zealand cruise routes go?

Cruises to New Zealand commonly include destinations such as Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch (tours from Akaroa or Lyttleton), and Dunedin.

Longer routes may stop at the Bay of Islands, as well as a scenic route near the majestic Fiordland National Park.

New Zealand cruise ports


Dunedin, the second largest city on New Zealand’s southern island, saw its population boom in the 1860s with the arrival of new settlers keen to make their fortune.

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On the eastern side of New Zealand’s South Island, charming Christchurch offers plenty of pretty gardens and parklands to explore. Notably English in character, the streets, markets, and lifestyle of the city is at once inviting and novel.

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Perched in the hills surrounding a sparkling bay, Wellington’s beautiful setting is akin to that of San Fransisco. The capital city of New Zealand, Wellington is renowned for its creative and cultural heart.

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Known as the ‘City of Sails, the blue waters of Auckland sparkle in the warm sunlight, while the region beyond boasts more than 48 extinct volcanoes and wild mountainous scenery.

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The Bay of Islands

The Bay of Islands, north of Auckland, is a mesmerising, untamed paradise. Home to some of the world’s largest trees, some of which stand over 170 feet tall and are over 1,200 years old.

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New Zealand cruise highlights

A cruise to New Zealand is a veritable feast for all the senses. Dine out on an eclectic range of culture, natural wonders, fascinating historical highlights, and exquisite culinary experiences.

New Zealand cruise sights

Breath-taking beauty is what makes a cruise to New Zealand exceptional. From alpine peaks and stretches of multi-coloured corals, towering rocky peaks, pink granite mountains, sugar-white beaches and emerald eucalyptus forests, New Zealand is a natural wonderland.

The wildlife on a New Zealand cruise can be equally mesmerising. Kiwi birds, Takahē, duck-billed platypus, Tuatara, and Kereru roam the land, while beneath the azure waves lies the opportunity to dive among manta rays, sea turtles, and colourful corals.

Festivals and events

Kiwis are not ones to shy away from a celebration, and with over 300 festivals throughout the year, there’s always something happening on a cruise to New Zealand.

Take part in a traditional Māori Kai festival for an opportunity to truly experience the incredible Māori culture, meet local Māori tribes and sample incredible Māori cuisine. Māori Kai festivals happen at different times throughout the year.

New Zealand cruises throughout the year

Cunard cruises to New Zealand typically sail between December and March, which is peak summertime in New Zealand. You can expect temperatures to be around 12°C (53.6°F) to 16°C (60.8°F). For this reason, it's good to include a few lightweight layers in your luggage, together with some beachwear, should you wish to enjoy the New Zealand sunshine from your ship's open decks.

Summer - December, January and February

The peak time for cruise ships to visit New Zealand, summer weather means warm temperatures (between 20 – 30°C (68 - 86°F)  – perfect for sun-seekers.

Spring - March, April and May

Spring in New Zealand means slightly cooler temperatures, but it's an excellent time for exploring, swimming, surfing and enjoying all of the exciting activities available on a New Zealand cruise. 

Winter – June, July and August

Winter in New Zealand sees cooler weather and rain, with temperatures typically ranging around 12°C - 16°C (53.6°F - 60.8°F).

Autumn - September, October and November

Autumn in New Zealand can range from cold and frosty to warm and hot, with spring buds blooming and newborn lambs frolicking in the fields before dusk. 

New Zealand cruise FAQs

New Zealand cruises