Top 10 boat cruises in New Zealand

Whether you're anchored in an idyllic bay or ferrying to an island, getting out on the water is a must-do when you're in New Zealand.

Cruise world famous Milford Sound

Mitre Peak is just one of the highlights on a cruise of Milford Sound. When you kayak near misty waterfalls keep a lookout for seals, dolphins, rare Fiordland Crested Penguins and unusual black coral. If you cruise with Southern Discoveries you'll have access to New Zealand's only floating underwater observatory. Make sure to pack a raincoat as Milford Sound gets more than 7 metres of rain annually. 

Cruise on an original steamship

Known as "The lady of the lake" the TSS Earnslaw is a Queenstown icon. This grand old steamship was launched the same year as the Titanic (1912) and was originally used as an essential link between isolated farmers and the outside world. Today, the ship is still hand-fired and has been restored to its original condition. Cruising across Lake Wakatipu on the TSS Earnslaw with Real Journeys is a must-do experience when in Queenstown. 

Experience the America's Cup first hand

Head down to Auckland's viaduct and jump on an authentic America's Cup yacht with Explore Group. This unique tour gives you the opportunity to step into the shoes of America's Cup crew, so grab a friend and take up the grinder challenge or simply relax and take in the Waitematā Harbour views. During The 36th America's Cup races you can take a spectator cruise - the equivalent of front row seats!  

Experience life as a 'sea-postie' in the Marlborough Sounds

The Pelorus Sounds in Marlborough is one of the most beautiful places to live in New Zealand. With deep teal coloured waters and hidden coves it really is something special. It's also remote - so remote that residents have their mail delivered by the 'sea-postie'. Experience a day in the life as a sea postie with a Pelorus Mail Boat cruise, You'll help deliver mail to friendly locals and their four-legged friends. You may be joined by dolphins, seals, stingrays and penguins so keep a lookout. 

Enjoy whale watching in Kaikōura

Did you know that over 80% of the world's whale and dolphin species migrate past the Kaikōura coastline? This makes a tour onboard Whale Watch Kaikōura the ultimate marine life experience. As the skipper finds the best spot to view sperm whales, make sure you also keep a lookout for humpbacks, orca, southern right whales and dolphins. You'll no doubt come across a few New Zealand fur seals and albatross with impressive wingspans. 

View New Zealand's first lighthouse

Next time you're in Dunedin you should cruise the Otago Harbour with Monarch Wildlife Cruises and Tours. The one hour wildlife tour sails from Wellers Rock Wharf and stops to view resident royal albatross, Otago shag colonies and New Zealand fur seals, blue penguins and dolphins. Expert guides will point out New Zealand's first lighthouse perched on top of a volcanic cliff top. 

Explore the untouched Doubtful Sound

Doubtful Sound is located at the south-west of the South Island and is an untouched wilderness of beautiful fiords, peaks and rainforest. There isn't direct road access to Doubtful Sound, so let Real Journeys take care of the logistics - you'll start with a cruise over Lake Manapouri, then a stunning drive over the Wilmot Pass and into the heart of the Fiordland National Park. Then the three-hour cruise on Doubtful Sound is your chance to see one of the most beautiful parts of New Zealand, only visited by a few. 

Explore Rotorua with a luxury cruise

When you take a cruise on Lake Rotoiti with Pure Cruise(opens in new window) you'll not only have amazing views but you'll also learn stories of the lakes and the history of local Māori. Cruise in style to sandy coves and cultural sites and then rejuvenate with a soak in the lakeside hot pools overlooking the lake. Charter a luxury Pure Cruise vessel and create your own perfect day in Rotorua. 

Get up close to dolphins, turtles and sharks

Bay Explorer showcases the best marine life of the Bay of Plenty. Jump onboard and watch as dolphins swim alongside the boat and orca play in the ocean. Commentary from the onboard crew will answer all of your questions about what lies beneath the ocean, you'll learn about sharks, dolphins, penguins, whales, seals and turtles - and hopefully, see them too. The boat leaves from Tauranga waterfront jetty in the morning and arrives back in good time to check out the local restaurants. 

Sail your away around the Abel Tasman

With a range of vessels and activities, Abel Tasman Sailing Adventures is a great way to experience the Abel Tasman National Park. Explore the crystal clear waters onboard the catamaran tour or charter a private catamaran. Sit-on-kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, fishing and snorkeling gear are provided and walking and hiking tours are available. Your skipper can give excellent local knowledge and offers a personalised tour for your group. 

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