The best boat cruises in New Zealand

New Zealand is a dream boating destination. Here is a must-do list of the five most iconic boat cruises across New Zealand.

New Zealand has some of the best scenery in the world which is even better viewed from the water. With over 14,000 km (8,700mi) of coastline and over 3,800 lakes, New Zealand is a dream boating destination. 

We have put together a must-do list of the five most iconic boat cruises in the most unique and stunning locations across New Zealand.

Relax in luxury on Lake Rotoiti, Rotorua

with Pure Cruise New Zealand

Lake Rotoiti is located in the Rotorua lakes area just 15 minutes from Rotorua city, the tourism capital of New Zealand. The lake is surrounded by native forest and renowned for its clear waters, excellent trout fishing and unique geothermal hot water beaches.

Experience Lake Rotoiti in style and take a private charter with Pure Cruise New Zealand. Offering a unique eco-sailing experience on Lake Rotoiti aboard the Tiua, the 16m (53ft) luxury catamaran is designed for entertaining up to 50 guests. Each Pure Cruise sailing experience is personally tailored and can include trout fishing, some of the finest New Zealand wines and cuisine, and a visit to the Rotoiti Hot Pools which are only accessible by water.

Experience underwater life in a marine reserve

with Perfect Day Cruises

The Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve offers the best sub-tropical diving in the world. The Marine Reserve, established in 1981 is located 20km (30mi) off the east coast of the Northland Region of New Zealand’s North Island. The complex underwater landscape is an incredibly unique environment in which subtropical and temperate marine life co-exist with extraordinary diversity, beauty and density.

The Perfect Day Ocean Cruise to the Poor Knights Islands can cater for everyone, whether you would like to relax in air-conditioned comfort, sunbathe, kayak, snorkel in the warm waters, or even go diving for the first time. During the cruise you will enter the world’s largest sea cave, view whales and dolphins, seals, and native birds, and experience underwater marine life.

Whale watching in Kaikoura

with Whale Watch Kaikoura

Kaikoura is a town located 180km (111mi) north of Christchurch on the east coast of the South Island of New Zealand. Kaikoura is home to the world’s smallest and rarest dolphin, the Hector's Dolphin, and also attracts the largest concentration and variety of seabirds on mainland New Zealand including a number of different species of Albatross.

A Kaikoura Whale Watch tour is a must do when visiting New Zealand. During a tour you may encounter New Zealand Fur Seals, pods of Dusky Dolphins, endangered Albatross and Giant Sperm Whales. Every Whale Watch tour is a unique experience and depending on the season you might also witness migrating Humpback Whales, Pilot Whales, Blue Whales and Southern Right Whales.

Discover the Milford Sounds

with Great Sights

Take an unforgettable journey into the heart of Milford Sound and visit part of the World Heritage Fiordland National Park, in the south west of the South Island. Famed for its remote atmosphere and rugged beauty this is a place of ancient alpine forest, gushing waterfalls and stunning mirror lakes. Seals, penguins and dolphins are also regular visitors to the icy waters.

The cruise will take you through the sounds out to the Tasman Sea on a purpose-built catamaran. The boat has large viewing windows which provide panoramic views from the warm indoor seating, and there are also outdoor viewing decks in order to fully experience the stunning natural environment.

Vintage steamship cruise on Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown

with Real Journeys

Queenstown is the tourism hub of the south, where you can experience travel how it once was, with a cruise aboard a steamship across the beautiful Lake Wakatipu. Nestled below the picturesque Southern Alps, at 80km (50 mi) in length, Lake Wakatipu is the longest and third largest lake in New Zealand.

Take in the scenery and relax on board the TSS Earnslaw steamship. Feel the heat from the boilers and hear the steam engines working as you enjoy a delicious meal or a drink from the on board Café and bar. Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip, and the Japanese Emperor and Empress are just a few of the famous passengers which have enjoyed the steamship experience over the years.

There are many spectacular boating experiences available throughout New Zealand, with just a selection mentioned here. For departures, prices, and full cruise details for the cruises mentioned please follow the links through to their websites.

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