The highlight of any cruise to New Zealand is sailing through the stunning Sounds – Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound, and Dusky Sound. The New Zealand Sounds are located at the southwestern end of New Zealand’s South Island and are part of the Fiordland National Park. The Fiordland National Park is filled with a dozen of both long and short fjords accompanied by snow-capped peaks, gorgeous waterfalls, and glacier-carved valleys. You don’t even have to leave your balcony to spot dolphins in the water below or be amazed by the striking height of the fjord walls. Here we show just how magical a day exploring New Zealand’s fjords can be and how to make the most of your trip.
On the gorgeous Queen Charlotte Sound, the picturesque seaside town of Picton, New Zealand is the main ferry port for New Zealand’s South Island. It is also a popular port of call for cruises due to the amazing hiking trails in the area, access to a scenic sheltered bay, and the nearby Marlborough wine region. A day in Picton could mean kayaking out in the Queen Charlotte Sound, swimming with dolphins, tasting some of New Zealand’s best wines, or exploring the many nature trails. You can have an amazing day just walking through the trails, without spending any money. We visited Picton by cruise ship and had a limited time to explore – this is how we made the most of our 8 hours in Picton!
At the southern end of New Zealand’s South Island, Dunedin is the gateway to the Otago region. It is a region of dramatic coastal landscapes, rare wildlife spotting, and unique architectural history. Dunedin is the second largest city on the South Island and a popular destination for both road trippers and cruise passengers. We visited Dunedin as the first stop on a Cruise circling around New Zealand. To get the full experience of this area, forgo the organized tours, rent a car, and explore on your own. Here, I outline how we self-drove Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula in one day.
One of the hardest parts of longer-term travel is figuring out just how you are going to pack a month’s worth of clothing and accessories into easily manageable luggage. This is an added challenge when visiting Australia and New Zealand, where you have to manage multiple different climates and activities within the same trip. During our month in Australia and New Zealand, we went from snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef to being surrounded by snow-capped mountains in Milford Sound. Temperatures ranged from 115ºF (45ºC) to 40ºF (4ºC). While New Zealand has a fairly mild climate all year round, Australia was battling bushfires, flooding, numerous heat waves, and a cyclone during our visit. With all that in mind, between the two of us, we shared one checked bag and one carry-on to ease the hassle of hauling multiple bags while traveling. While it might require some forward-thinking, it is definitely possible to pack light for a month-long vacation.