They are so many options available to cruise passengers when they set foot on land, the choices may leave you slightly overwhelmed! Maybe we can help you out with some of the highlights in each port that your cruise may dock.Whether you are immersing yourself in New Zealand's Maori culture in Rotorua, or sipping delicious New Zealand Pinot in Napier, there really is something for everyone onshore in the North Island. Adventure and architecture, wine and wildlife, indigenous culture and geothermal wonders make North Island shore excursions unmissable for cruise passengers.

Te Puia, Rotorua

From Auckland

  • See penguins, sharks and marine life at Kelly Tarlton’s Antarctic Encounter and Underwater World.
  • Explore the Viaduct Harbor area that hosted the America’s Cup or go sailing on an America’s Cup yacht. Feeling brace? Try bridge climbing, bungy jumping or jet boating!
  • Auckland offers outstanding shopping. The downtown area hosts the boutiques of New Zealand labels Karen Walker, Workshop, Zambesi and World.
  • Go sightseeing! Visit the summit of Mt Eden, a dormant volcano that last erupted about 15,000 years ago or take a tour to the Waitakere Ranges or black sand beaches which lie to the west of the city.
  • At 328 meters high, the Sky Tower is New Zealand’s tallest manmade structure. It offers stunning views in all directions and a casino. Visitors can ‘SkyWalk’ around the tower’s 192-metrehigh pergola or ‘SkyJump’ from it.

From the Bay of Islands

  • Visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, the scene of the 1840 signing of New Zealand’s founding document the Treaty of Waitangi, or head to Russell, the first permanent European settlement in New Zealand
  • Charter a fishing boat and reel in fish including marlin, snapper and terakihi.
  • Travel to the Waipoua forest to see ancient kauri trees, including the lord of the forest Tāne Mahuta, estimated to be 2,000 years old.
  • Swim or dive in crystal clear waters or take a boat trip to see dolphins and sail through the Hole in the Rock.
  • See glow worms on a guided tour of the Kawiti Glow Worm Caves, 20 minutes’ drive south of Paihia.

From Tauranga

  • Meet the local Māori people and see a traditional Māori haka, try flax weaving or experience a hangi (a Māori cooking method using hot rocks and steam to cook under the ground).
  • Raft the rivers or horse trek in the Tauranga-Rotorua area. ‘Luge’ down a Rotorua hillside in a three-wheeled toboggan, or roll down the slopes inside a transparent plastic orb, known as a ZORB.
  • Check out natural hot springs, boiling mud pools, geothermal vents and geysers in Rotorua.
  • The area around Tauranga produces some of the best kiwifruit and avocados in the world. Buy some from a local market stall.
  • Take a surfing or diving lesson on one of the golden-sand beaches in Tauranga or nearby Mount Maunganui.

From Napier

  • Take a tour of the gannet colony – home to more than 15,000 of these amazing seabirds. Alternatively, play a round of golf at the Cape Kidnappers Golf Course, ranked among the best courses in the world by Golf Magazine.
  • Take a walking tour around Napier to see some of the city’s best Art Deco buildings and architecture.
  • The National Aquarium has a large display of aquatic life, including sharks, stingrays, coral and many fish species. Interestingly, it also houses rare flightless Kiwi birds and Tuatara lizards.
  • Take a wine tour or visit a café to enjoy one of the Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Syrah wines the Hawke’s Bay is famous for. Local stores and markets offer a wide selection of fresh local produce.
  • Hawke’s Bay has over 133km of dedicated off road cycle pathways. The cycling experience takes you through stunning scenery including orchards, coastline, vineyards as well as visiting wineries, local cafes and much more.

From Wellington

  • Experience chic café culture at one of Wellington’s many eateries. Coffee in Wellington is world-class!
  • Ride Wellington’s iconic red cable car, see stunning views from Mt Victoria or visit Te Papa, the new generation national museum. Interactive exhibits and technology tell New Zealand's stories and history.
  • Lord of the Rings location tours are available for those who want to visit sites around Wellington used during filming
  • Take a step back in time at Zealandia, just 10 minutes from the cruise terminal– a 500-year conservation plan in action and a wonderful place to wander. See endangered fur seals on Wellington’s South Coast, or stroll through the Wellington Botanic Garden.
  • Fancy a glass of wine? Just an hour’s drive from Wellington city, the Wairarapa region makes the perfect setting for some wine tasting. 

Can’t fit it all in?

No worries! Why not stick around for a few extra days before or after your cruise and extend your New Zealand experience. Check out some ideas for pre or post cruise itineraries

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