New Zealand
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Trips, Tours & Cruises

The Best Way to Cruise New Zealand

The island nation of New Zealand, with endless bays, fjords and coastline, is perfectly suited to exploration by small ship. See more of this unforgettable land than the average traveler while aboard a New Zealand small ship cruise. Expedition ships and yachts, carrying just 16 to 130 guests, include your guides, gear and activities. Flexible routes allow for optimal wildlife encounters, and naturalist guides ensure you’re getting the most of every minute. Can’t decide which island to see? Cruise them both. It’s efficient & you’ll unpack just once as your captain sails you efficiently to each location.

We offer the largest selection of New Zealand small ship cruises available. Find popular routes such as Milford Sound, Fiordland National Park, Doubtful Sound, Bay of Islands and Napier, all done with the special twist of ease and adventure that’s a hallmark of adventure cruising. Look for our New Zealand cruises aboard everything from high-tech expedition ships to smaller, more intimate yachts that are off the radar of most travelers. Soak up vast scenery, legendary hospitality and unique Maori culture while exploring the adventure capital of the world on a small ship cruise around New Zealand.

New Zealand Small Ship Cruises

Connect with an Adventure Specialist

Sail aboard a ship and you’ll see why the local Maori called New Zealand the “land of the long white cloud.” White clouds often hang over the dramatic mountain ranges in the center of the North and South Islands, and there’s no better view than at being at sea. Diverse landscapes ranging from alpine mountains and sandy beaches to subtropical forests mean travelers never tire of views from the ship’s bow. Local New Zealanders, or Kiwis, named after the endearing flightless bird, are renowned for their hospitality, charm and sense of adventure. A diverse array of environmental features and 4,350 miles of coastline create plenty of opportunities for adventure and nature exploration while small ship cruising New Zealand. Take advantage of unique opportunities to visit uncommonly explored islands like Stewart Island with its diverse bird watching, White Island’s active volcano and all the way down to the sub-Antarctic islands. Sail up close to roaring waterfalls and walk in primal forests that bring Tolkien’s Middle Earth to life.

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Cruises to New Zealand
with AdventureSmith

Ready to experience the near-tangible magic of these incredible islands? AdventureSmith Explorations offers the largest selection of New Zealand small ship cruises. Let our experienced team guide you to best plan, book and enjoy your cruise to New Zealand. Why book with us?

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Work with one dedicated U.S.-based specialist to purchase & prepare for your New Zealand cruise.

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Truly small ship cruise New Zealand. All our ships are under 130 guests.

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Our relationships with reputable operators result in tried & trusted New Zealand cruises.

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Our New Zealand cruises include guided hiking, skiff rides & even flightseeing.

A man in a hat and blue jacket stands at the bow of a catamaran on a New Zealand small ship cruise through Fiordland National Park

New Zealand Cruises 2024 & 2025

With New Zealand boasting some of the world’s strictest health regulations that closed its borders to tourism for years, New Zealand cruises in 2024 & 2025 are like stepping back in time to a less-visited Aoteoroa. Local Kiwis love welcoming travelers to their unique islands, and passengers will be rewarded with enthusiastic hosts and pristine landscapes.

Aboard small ship New Zealand cruises, small group sizes and onboard guides ensure personalized attention, while flexible schedules enhance opportunities for wildlife viewing and natural interaction with locals. You’ll hike along famous tracks, kayak in calm scenic fjords and reach remote offshore islands full of wildlife.

It’s time to return to New Zealand, and there’s no better way than by small ship.

Cruises Around New Zealand Only

Focus just on this island nation with our selection of New Zealand only cruises. A New Zealand South Island cruise with AdventureSmith visits not only the iconic Milford Sound, but the more remote reaches of the greater Fiordland National Park. Quickly leave the day boats behind to explore New Zealand fjords and coastlines in true AdventureSmith style—away from ports and into the wilderness.

To go farther on a New Zealand South Island cruise, look for Stewart Island, Dunedin and even Abel Tasman on your route. On the North Island, highlights include the Bay of Islands, Auckland, Gisborne and Napier, among many other lesser-known coastline gems. Many of our islands combine both islands into comprehensive east coast explorations. And luxury New Zealand cruises can offer exclusive experiences like helicopter flightseeing.

Include Antarctica

Another unique way of cruising New Zealand is to embark or disembark here on an Antarctica cruise itinerary. You’ll explore a far less visited region of Antarctica including the Ross Sea and New Zealand’s sub-Antarctic Islands like the Auckland Islands and Campbell Island. On these routes you’ll spend way more time below the Polar Circle than an average Antarctica itinerary as well as be able to continue your travels in New Zealand. New Zealand Antarctica cruises embark from either Dunedin or Bluff, the country’s “most southerly” town. 

Planning Your New Zealand Cruise

Our Adventure Specialists have spent weeks and even months in New Zealand, and have decades of experience in the small ship cruise industry to bring you valuable insight, travel tips and the latest New Zealand cruise information. Let us be your guide to planning the best New Zealand cruise for your travel style, budget and timing.

New Zealand Cruise Deals

For budget-conscious travelers, sticking to cruises around New Zealand only will keep costs lower due to shorter itineraries. But value can be found on longer routes as well. We can help you find the latest discounts, explain the ins-and-outs of the landscape and help you secure a cruise to Zealand at the best rate. We recommend that you plan ahead to take advantage of early-booking discounts, but we’re here to help those researching last-minute New Zealand cruises save as well. Our team can help you narrow down all the New Zealand cruise deals and identify which itinerary is the best fit for you. Let us help you plan right from the start so that you get the best discount to fit your ideal cruise.

“Quickly leave the day boats behind to explore in true AdventureSmith style—into the wilderness.”


New Zealand Small Ship Cruises

Temperature & Rainfall

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Avg. High (F) 71 71 66 59 53 47 46 50 55 60 64 68
Avg. Low (F) 49 49 45 39 36 31 30 33 36 39 42 47
Avg. Rainfall (Inches) 2.2 1.7 1.9 1.9 2.6 2.8 2.7 1.9 1.8 1.7 1.9 2.2

Cruise New Zealand Year-Round

The most popular time to cruise New Zealand is during November through April, when temperatures are warmer and rainfall is less. Since New Zealand is an island in the South Pacific, with miles of ocean in every direction, a maritime climate prevails bringing warm summer months (Dec-March) and mild winters. Weather patterns are strongly affected by the prevailing westerly breezes. These bring moisture from the Tasman Sea to the western side of both islands, so you’ll find the longest New Zealand small ship cruise routes along the sheltered eastern shore. Note that the climate data referenced above is for South Island’s Queenstown, a common gateway for accessing Milford Sound cruises and other South Island cruises to New Zealand. 

When Should You Cruise to New Zealand?

Book with the confidence that comes from experience.

100+ combined years of experience, 7 continents explored, decades of expedition cruising around the world & here to help you find & book your dream trip.

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