Must-do activities on your New Zealand layover

If you're planning on a cruise around New Zealand, making the most of every stopover is a must.

Cruising is a great way to see the world. However, when seeing the sights by sea, you'll want to make the most of your port days. Whether you have eight hours or just four, there's plenty to see and do across New Zealand.

ID New Zealand Cruise tour operator, Alex Howard says, "When people book a shore excursion, the deciding factor can come down to time available. New Zealand is a compact place and people just don’t realise how accessible some hotspots are.”

Susan Bonner, Vice President and Managing Director, Royal Caribbean Australia and New Zealand suggests booking through your cruise line for ease and security. "Guests who book through the cruise line will visit some of the country’s most breathtaking sights, while being guaranteed to make it back to their ships on time."

If you're on the lookout for some inspiration for your trip, read on to discover some of the amazing experiences you won't want to miss.

Four hours or less

Otago’s Wild Wonders

Starting in Dunedin, Otago’s Wild Wonders offers a one-hour tour over the shores of Otago Harbour, where you'll get to see fur seals and penguins in their natural habitats against a backdrop of city and rugged coastline.

“This owner operated business is run by Perry and Tracey Reid on their very own land,” says Alex. “Perry and Tracey’s fully functioning farm has been in the family since 1849, and even today, three family generations are involved in day to day life on the farm. Guests warm to fact they are visiting a family’s home and all coaches that arrive are greeted by a member of the Reid family."

Akaroa and harbour wildlife cruise

“This one always has guests raving,” says Alex. “The Akaroa Harbour and Wildlife Cruise visits the only place in the world where people can see Hector’s dolphins.”

This marine life oriented cruise offers sightings of White-Flippered Blue penguins and fur seals, and guests can see ancient lava flows along the edge of the harbour.”

Gannets at Cape Kidnappers

Nature lovers can see a mainland nesting spot for over 20,000 Gannets at Cape Kidnappers, the largest and most easily accessible mainland Gannet colony in the world and venture on a Gannet Safari on this extraordinary excursion.

You can even get up close in a 4x4 vehicle to just a few feet of these incredible creatures. 

Lord of the Rings and Weta Workshop tour

Aside from the country’s sightseeing and wildlife, you can learn about pop culture at the Lord of the Rings and Weta Workshop Tour going behind the scenes for 3 and a half hours, exploring picturesque forest where the magic of special effects are brought to life by award-winning Director Peter Jackson and his talented team.

Eight hours or less

Taieri Gorge Train

Another can’t-miss excursion is the Taieri Gorge Train, where passengers take a ride on a vintage train across the eastern shores of the Otago Harbour to the Taieri River Gorge.

This iconic rail journey offers views of an ancient sheep run called 'Pukerangi' or the Hills of Heaven. Views include Mt. Allan and Christmas Creek, where one miner struck gold on Christmas Day in 1863.

Marlborough tours

Alex says there are many more excursions available than most people are able to research on their own. The Marlborough train offers a majestic steam ride journey over five hours.

If you're a fan of wine from the Marlborough region, be sure to book in a wine tasting. But, if you're more into outdoors activities, there's a sea kayaking tour, or a two-hour scenic walking tour on the Queen Charlotte Track.

Other excursions in this port include a cruise on the beautiful Marlborough Sounds, arriving at an abalone pearl farm, where you'll meet the owners and delve into the process of how these precious gems are farmed.

Waiheke Island

For the wine-lovers out there, you can take a high-speed ferry and visit Waiheke Island for an incredible wine tour spanning almost five, delicious hours.

For more information or to book a cruise, click HERE or contact your travel agent.

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