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New Zealand by Sea: Auckland to Milford Aboard Caledonian Sky

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Departure Dates

  • Jan 04, 2018 - Jan 17, 2018
  • Nov 29, 2018 - Dec 12, 2018


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New Zealand by Sea: Auckland to Milford Aboard Caledonian Sky

With its tidy English gardens and untamed wilderness, white-suited lawn bowlers and tattooed Maori elders, austere glacial fiords and boiling volcanic mud pots, New Zealand is a spectacular country of striking contrasts. Isolated from other land masses by the swells of the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean, it is a world unto itself

Study Leaders
Richard Thomas, the George Martin Lane Professor of the Classics at Harvard University, grew up in New Zealand and was educated at the University of Auckland and the University of Michigan. His interests include Maori mythologies and classical counterpoints, early settlers of New Zealand, New Zealand poets and poetry, and the flora and fauna of New Zealand.

Gordon Turnbull, ’86 PhD, is the general editor of the Yale Boswell Editions, one of Yale’s greatest scholarly enterprises. Born in Sydney, he graduated from the Australian National University in Canberra and taught at the University of Newcastle (New South Wales) and seven years at Yale in the Department of English.

Tour Map
New Zealand map 1

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Ship Information

The Caledonian Sky, formerly the Hebridean Spirit, is a 114-passenger premier expedition ship refurbished in 2012. All cabins have an ocean view, en suite bathroom with walk-in shower and/or bathtub, spacious wardrobe or walk-in closet, safe, minibar, individually controlled heat/air conditioner, flat-screen television, and sitting area with sofa. Twenty-three of the suites feature private balconies. The ship’s amenities include a dining room, two lounges with bar service, small library and gym, sun deck with comfortable lounge chairs, hairdresser, laundry service, and gift shop. An elevator services all passenger cabin decks. The Caledonian Sky’s chefs prepare quality international meals, predominantly Western-style, served in a single open seating. A friendly crew provides exceptional, personalized service, with more than a 1:2 crew-to-passenger ratio. The ship features advanced satellite navigation and communication equipment, roll stabilizers, and a fleet of Zodiac landing craft.

Caledonian Sky Deck Plan

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Thursday–Saturday, January 4–6, 2018

Home • Auckland, New Zealand Depart home on an overnight flight to Auckland, the “City of Sails,” on New Zealand’s North Island. Lose one day crossing the International Date Line. This evening meet fellow travelers at a welcome reception. Millennium Hotel (R)

Sunday, January 7

Auckland (Embark) Enjoy an overview motor coach tour of the city and a visit to the Auckland Museum to learn about New Zealand’s indigenous Maori and Polynesian cultures from experienced docents. Following lunch, embark the Caledonian Sky and enjoy a welcome dinner this evening. Caledonian Sky (B,L,D)

Tuesday, January 9

At Sea En route to Wellington, enjoy ample time to relax, the continuation of the educational program, and a tour of the ship’s bridge. Caledonian Sky (B,L,D)

Wednesday, January 10

Wellington Wellington is New Zealand’s capital city, where colorful Victorian houses perch on steep hills overlooking one of the world’s loveliest harbors. Walk through the city’s lush botanical garden and stop at Old St. Paul’s Church, a Wellington landmark that exemplifies 19th-century Gothic Revival architecture adapted to colonial conditions and materials. Visit the spectacular waterfront museum Te Papa Tongarewa (Maori for “Repository of Things Precious”) to learn about Maori myths and traditions, as well as their exceptional skills in navigating the Pacific to arrive on these islands. This evening enjoy free time off the ship for independent exploration. Caledonian Sky (B,L)

Thursday, January 11

Marlborough Sounds Cruise across Cook Strait between the North and South Islands and enter a world of pristine natural beauty. Anchor at Ship Cove, where Captain Cook arrived aboard the Endeavour in 1770. Explore islands and inlets by Zodiac and, during short walks in the bush, keep an eye out for some of the wildlife Cook described in his reports, as well as rare birds such as the South Island saddleback, the bellbird, and the New Zealand robin. Caledonian Sky (B,L,D)

Friday, January 12

Lyttelton • Christchurch Disembark in the harbor at Lyttelton and drive to Christchurch, headquarters for “Operation Deep Freeze” and supply point for U.S. bases in the Antarctic. Explore the unique Canterbury Museum and its Hall of Antarctic Discovery, which preserves and exhibits fascinating historic artifacts from the exploits of Antarctic explorers. In Christchurch’s central district, view an ethereal temporary cathedral constructed of cardboard tubes and stroll through an innovative shipping container shopping mall, both part of the city’s creative response to the damage of the 2011 earthquake. Also visit the Ohinetahi Garden, considered one of New Zealand’s finest. Caledonian Sky (B,L,D)

Saturday, January 13

Dunedin From Dunedin, widely regarded as the best-preserved Victorian and Edwardian heritage city in the Southern hemisphere, drive to Taiaroa Head on the tip of the Otago Peninsula. This is the only mainland location in the world where it is possible to see northern royal albatrosses, the largest seabirds in the world, in their natural habitat. Special viewing areas have been constructed for observing these birds without disturbing their natural activities.  Before returning to the ship, visit the Otago Museum’s Southern Land, Southern People gallery, with its informative exhibits on the landforms, lost fauna and flora, and challenging climate of southern New Zealand. Caledonian Sky (B,L,D)

Sunday, January 14

Stewart Island Anchor in Paterson Inlet to visit Stewart and Ulva islands. Stewart Island (Raikura) is the southernmost inhabited outpost of New Zealand. With a population under 500, is a quiet, seldom-visited wilderness oasis and an ornithologist’s delight. Ulva Island is a sanctuary for both birds and plants, including species that are rare or extinct on mainland New Zealand. Naturalist guides lead bush walks for possible sightings of weka, kākā, albatrosses, the flightless Stewart Island kiwi, silvereyes, and fantails. Caledonian Sky (B,L,D)

Monday, January 15

Doubtful & Dusky Sounds When the glaciers covering Fiordland retreated 14,000 years ago, they left behind an extraordinarily serrated coastline, plunging fiords, and deep branching lakes, further enhanced by mist-shrouded mountains, cascading waterfalls, and vast beech forests. This is New Zealand at its wildest, most remote, and most beautiful. Explore this unspoiled waterway, well known for its wildlife, including fur seals and a resident pod of bottlenose dolphins. This evening celebrate your adventure at a festive farewell dinner aboard the ship. Caledonian Sky (B,L,D)

Tuesday, January 16

Milford Sound (Disembark) – Queenstown

On arrival in Fiordland National Park, cruise close to iconic Mitre Peak and the towering cliffs and cascading waterfalls of spectacular Milford Sound before disembarking. Then drive to Queenstown for a city tour and free time to explore the city on your own. Millennium Hotel (B,L,D)

Wednesday, January 17


Home After breakfast, transfer to the airport for flights home, regaining the day lost on the inbound journey. (B)

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Pre or Post Tours

Optional Post-Cruise Queenstown

January 17–18

Travel by motor coach to historic Arrowtown, established in 1862 during the height of the Otago gold rush. Observe the many well-preserved cottages and shops, as well as the restored Chinese settlement at the edge of Lake Arrow, and enjoy the Lakes District Museum’s authentic exhibits on early life in the Wakatipu District. In the evening, take a steamboat cruise across scenic Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak Sheep Station for dinner at the Colonel’s Homestead and demonstrations by the station’s experienced sheep shearers.

Optional Post-Cruise Sydney, Australia

January 18–21

After a day in Queenstown fly to Sydney, Australia, for three nights in this cosmopolitan city. Activities include a private tour of the iconic Sydney Opera House; a walking tour of the Rocks District (above), Sydney’s historic center that has been sensitively revitalized; a viewing of the aboriginal art at the Art Gallery of New South Wales; and a visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens, plus time for independent exploration.

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