New Zealand by Sea Aboard Caledonian Sky

New Zealand by Sea Aboard Caledonian Sky



Isolated from other land masses by the Tasman Sea and vast Pacific Ocean, New Zealand is a world unto itself. Dramatic glacial fjords, bubbling mud pots, tidy English gardens, tattooed Maori elders, white-suited lawn bowlers and abundant wildlife—including the rare Royal Albatross—help confirm this island country as a unique and fascinating place. Join naturalist-led Zodiac expeditions to the towering cliffs and tumbling waterfalls of Dusky, Doubtful and Milford Sounds; bush walks on seldom-visited Stewart Island for birdwatching; and a private gathering with Maori elders.

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Trip Type
Group Travel Tour, International Ocean & Sea Voyages
Departure Dates
Jan 27, 2020 - Feb 9, 2020


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


Pre-Tour Extension Queenstown
January 26–29, 2020
Fly into Queenstown two days early for the chance to journey through the dramatic Lord of the Rings landscapes of Central Otago and meet wine makers
from the world’s southernmost winemaking region. Queenstown is the gateway to over 200 vineyards producing some of the world’s best wines, which you’ll enjoy
during wine tastings and a lunch in this picturesque region. On the way, stop
in historic Arrowtown for a guided tour of this community that sprang to life
in the 1860s following the discovery of gold in the Arrow River and still retains
60 of the original gold-rush buildings. The following day, travel to Glenorchy
to take a wilderness jet boat trip up the glacier-fed, turquoise water of the Dart
River to witness the stunning scenery of the World Heritage Area of Mount
Aspiring National Park, the flora and fauna of which has become the world’s
best example of ancient Gondwana Land. You’ll also have the chance to walk
among old-growth beech trees, which form a natural wonderland.

Post-Tour Extension Sydney, Australia
February 9-12, 2020
Extend your trip with three nights in cosmopolitan Sydney, Australia. Activities
include a private tour of the iconic Sydney Opera House; a walking tour of the Rocks District, 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.


  • Mark Van Baalen

    Mark Van Baalen

    Has served Harvard in a variety of roles since 1962. Since 1995 he has been a Lecturer and Associate in the Dept. of Earth and Planetary Sciences. He taught popular courses in physical and environmental geology, and acted as mentor to many undergraduates. Mark’s research has included field-based projects in New England, California and the Swiss Alps, all focusing on details of the origin of ancient ocean basins and their associated mountain belts. More recently he has studied the interactions between human activities and the inexorable process of climate change. In addition to these strictly scientific interests, Mark has a deep interest in history, including the exploration of remote regions of the world. On these trips, Mark lectures on the natural history of the regions being visited, as well as painting a broader picture of human interaction with its environment, now and in the past.

  • Neville Peat

    Neville Peat

    New Zealand writer and adventurer who has published nearly forty books on geography, biography, history,
    and the natural environment, the most recent being The Invading Sea. A Dunedin city councilor, Neville has
    accompanied ship-based tours of mainland New Zealand and the New Zealand Subantarctic Islands for the
    past 15 years as a lecturer and guide. He also chairs the trust board for Dunedin’s Orokonui Ecosanctuary, an
    ecological island wildlife reserve. A very popular lecturer, Neville infuses travelers with his passion for and
    encyclopedic knowledge of New Zealand’s natural wonders.

  • Peter Hillary

    Peter Hillary

    Son of Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to reach the summit of Mount Everest in 1953, is delighted to be joining the lecture staff of our New Zealand program. In addition to being the first second-generation to climb Mt. Everest, Peter has climbed the Seven Summits (the highest mountain on each of the seven continents) and has been on over 40 mountaineering expeditions around the world. Peter is active with several Himalayan foundations that fund capital projects in the Himalayan region of Nepal. He actively supports outdoor youth leadership programs and New Zealand conservation efforts, including protecting the kea, the world’s only mountain parrot.




  • days 1-3

    Monday–Wednesday, January 27–29, 2020 - Home / Queenstown

    Depart home on an overnight flight to Queenstown, New Zealand, gateway to the South Island’s breathtaking alpine and glacial scenery. Lose one day crossing the International Date Line. This evening meet fellow travelers at a welcome reception with views of Lake Wakatipu.

  • day 4

    Thursday, January 30 - Queenstown

    Following an introductory lecture, embark on a private cruise across scenic Lake Wakatipu to Mt Nicholas High Country Farm for a private, behind-the-scenes visit of this 100,000 acre, family-run merino sheep farm, with the option of an easy cycle ride with panoramic alpine views at every turn. The afternoon is at leisure to relax, explore the downtown Queenstown scene, or perhaps ride the Skyline Queenstown Gondola to the top of Bob’s Peak for wonderful views over the town.

  • day 5

    Friday, January 31

    Drive to spectacular Milford Sound via the shores of Lake Te Anau to Fiordland National Park. On arrival at Milford, board a small boat and cruise close to the towering cliffs and cascading waterfalls before embarking the Caledonian Sky. Celebrate the first evening on board with a Captain’s welcome reception and dinner while cruising New Zealand’s iconic Milford Sound.

  • day 6

    Saturday, February 1 - 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. It’s also an area rich in history, Captain Cook landed here on HMS Resolution in 1773. Explore these unspoiled waterways, only accessible by sea, and well known for abundant wildlife, including fur seals and pods of bottlenose dolphins.

  • day 7

    Sunday, February 2 - Stewart Island (Raikura)

    Anchor in Paterson Inlet to visit Stewart and Ulva islands. Stewart Island (Raikura), 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 of varying lengths that may include sightings of weka, kākā, the flightless Stewart Island kiwi, silvereyes, and fantails. Weather permitting, an optional ocean fishing excursion will be offered (for an additional cost).

  • day 8

    Monday, February 3 - Dunedin

    Cruise this morning into the beautiful harbor city of Dunedin, regarded as New Zealand’s architectural heritage capital. Built on the gold rushes of the 1860s, today Victorian and Edwardian buildings can still be seen at every turn. Embark on a guided tour of this beautifully preserved city including a visit to the spectacular Dunedin Botanic Garden, with over 6,800 plant species, and the Otago Museum, for superb insight into the natural history of the South Island, as well as its industries and its peoples. While in Dunedin, drive to Taiaroa Head on the tip of the Otago Peninsula to see northern royal albatrosses, in their natural habitat. Special viewing areas have been constructed for observing these birds without disturbing their natural activities. Alternatively, ride the rails on a vintage train with open air viewing platforms through the beautiful Taieri Plains before climbing into the rugged Taieri Gorge, a narrow and deep ravine carved out by the ancient Taieri River. As the ship departs Dunedin, come out on deck to birdwatch at sunset along the Otago Peninsula.

  • day 9

    Tuesday, February 4 - Akaroa

    Akaroa meaning, ‘Long Harbor’, in Maori, is a historic French and British settlement, nestled in the heart of an ancient volcano on the Banks Peninsula. In the morning, choose between a guided walk through the charming colonial town and surrounding native bush of the Garden of Tane or a guided 4×4 drive to a private farm to see the largest Australasian Little Penguin colony on mainland New Zealand and an inspiring example of private individuals saving an endangered species. Or if you prefer you can simply wander in the town and enjoy the alluring French atmosphere of this seaside retreat. Return to the ship for a relaxing afternoon at sea and a continuation of our lecture series.

  • day 10

    Wednesday, February 5 - Marlborough Sounds / Wellington

    Sail across Cook Strait between the North and South Islands and enter a world of pristine natural beauty. This morning anchor at Ship Cove, where Captain Cook arrived aboard the Endeavour in 1770. Explore the islands and inlets by Zodiac and during short walks on the famed Queen Charlotte Track. 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. Arrive in Wellington for a U.S. Embassy briefing (schedule permitting) followed by a free evening off the ship. Stroll along the picturesque waterfront and enjoy the option of dining off the ship at a restaurant of your choice in town. This evening, (available at extra cost), choose to travel to Zealandia for a private night tour through this protected predator-proof ecosanctuary that is home to some of New Zealand’s rarest species, including kiwis.

  • day 11

    Thursday, February - 6 Wellington

    Wellington is New Zealand’s capital city, where colorful Victorian houses perch on steep hills overlooking one of the world’s loveliest harbors. Tour the city’s lush botanical garden and visit the spectacular waterfront museum TePapa Tongarewa (Maori for “Repository of Things Precious”). Discover how the Maori navigated the Pacific to arrive on these islands and learn about their myths and traditions. Return to the ship for lunch and an afternoon of cruising as we continue our lecture program.

  • day 12

    Friday, February 7 - At Sea

    Enjoy a day at sea, with onboard lectures and time to relax, as the Caledonian Sky cruises along the east coast of the North Island.

  • day 13

    Saturday, February 8 - Tauranga/Rotorua

    Dock this morning in Tauranga and disembark for a drive to Rotorua, the heartland of New Zealand’s Maori culture. Enjoy a private gathering with Maori elders at a special powhiri (welcome) ceremony in a Maori village nestled within a native Tawa forest. Observe Maori weaving, carving, face tattooing, and food preparation activities. Also learn about warrior training and the fearsome haka posture dance as part of an exhilarating cultural performance. After a traditional hangi lunch, visit some of Rotorua’s famed geothermal features, where boiling mud pools and colorful hot springs provide remarkable evidence of the still-hot magma just beneath the earth’s surface. Back on board, celebrate your New Zealand adventure with fellow travelers during the Captain’s Farewell reception and dinner.

  • day 14

    Sunday, February 9 - Auckland /Home

    Arrive in Auckland, the “City of Sails,” and disembark for an overview tour of the city’s highlights including a stop at Bastion Point offering magnificent views back to Auckland. Enjoy lunch at a seaside restaurant with free time for exploring independently before transferring to the airport for flights home, regaining the day lost on the inbound journey.

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