10% Ponant Bonus
In alliance with Smithsonian Journeys.
This cruise is part of a collection of PONANT voyages that are specially-tailored for English-speaking travelers who want to engage with the world. In addition to the usual elements of the PONANT experience, the listed price for these voyages includes transfers to and from the ship, talks and discussions aboard ship by world class experts, and a shore excursion or activity in each port of call that encourages guests to embrace the sights, sounds, tastes, and smells of the local environment and culture.
On this comprehensive 8-day expedition to New Zealand's South Island, the focus throughout will be on the unparalleled richness of New Zealand's flora, fauna, and magnificent landscapes. Because it is so remote, New Zealand was one of the last places on Earth to be settled by human beings. And during those long centuries of splendid isolation, New Zealand developed a biodiversity of animals and plants that is rare, possibly even unique, in the world.
Setting out from Wellington on the southern tip of the North Island, Le Lapérouse sails along the South Island's eastern seaboard exploring the rugged coastline between Kaikoura and Akaroa, an area known for its abundant wildlife — petrels, penguins and several species of albatross, but especially for the large number of sperm whales, fur seals, and dolphins that live permanently in the coastal waters.
A day at sea, making its way around the southern tip of the island, brings Le Lapérouse to Fiordland National Park, part of Te Wähipounamu, a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site, where you spend three days exploring this spectacular region of soaring craggy mountains and pristine fjords formed by over 100,000 years of glacial activity.
Doubtful Sound, with a depth of 1,380 feet, is the deepest of the fjords, and Dusky Sound is one of the most isolated. Both are home to sheer cliffs, waterfalls, and primitive forests, and both are havens for cormorants, seagulls, New Zealand fur seals, and the endemic Fiordland crested penguins. Milford Sound, the most northerly of the fjords visited on this voyage is among the most beautiful natural sites in all of New Zealand, an inlet reaching nearly ten miles inland, with majestic cliffs rising several hundred feet out of the water, many with waterfalls cascading from high above.
The last day of your expedition is spent exploring Ulva Island, a famous bird and plant sanctuary that provides an opportunity to spot some of the rarest bird species in the world, including the flightless Stewart Island Weka, South Island saddleback, yellowhead, and Stewart Island robin.
Your expedition ends in Dunedin.
A voyage specially-tailored for English-speaking travelers including discussions with experts, transfers before and after your cruise, and an included activity in each port of call. Engaging discussions...
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*Price is per person, based on double occupancy, based on availability, and subject to change at any time. The category of stateroom to which this price applies may no longer be available.
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Peter Bobrowsky is a professional archaeologist and geologist with 40 years of experience working as a consultant, scholar, teacher, and researcher across the globe. His academic achievements include almost 500 publications including 20 technical books such as the Encyclopedia of Natural Hazards, Encyclopedia of Engineering Geology, and The Landslide Handbook – the latter written for the general public has been translated into Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin, and Japanese; and induction as an International Fellow of the Explorers Club of New York and Fellow of the Geological Society of America. He is the recipient of numerous awards including most notably the Eugene Shoemaker Communications Award for Best Book (2009), the Edward B. Burwell Jr. Award for Engineering Geology (2011), the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012), and the James Harrison Outstanding Achievement Award (2020).
Dr. Bobrowsky has a prominent history of international positions and appointments in particular Secretary General of the International Union of Geological Sciences, an NGO representing some one million earth scientists around the world, President of the Canadian Quaternary Association, President of the Geological Association of Canada, and President of the International Consortium on Landslides.
A popular global public speaker for the past 25 years, he remains a much sought after and well-liked lecturer for the Smithsonian since 2004. His multi-disciplinary background and extensive travel to over 110 countries contribute to his unique, informative, and enthusiastic speaking style. A born extrovert with an easy going manner, Peter strives to understand and explain the crucial links between a diverse and dynamically changing Earth and the evolution of changing societies through history.
He divides his time between travel adventures and home life near Sidney by the Sea on Vancouver Island.
Prior to moving to the central North Island town of Rotorua in 1999, Geoff was a lecturer at the Auckland University of Technology teaching environmental science, zoology, botany, and marine biology. Geoff is a leading author and illustrator of New Zealand natural history books for the general public, having written more than 15. His book Dinosaurs of New Zealand was the first book for the public on the subject while Prehistoric Animals of New Zealand was the first overview of this country’s prehistory. Similarly, Fountains of Fire: The Story of Auckland’s Volcanoes was the first account for the public of the 50 or so volcanoes that pepper the landscape of New Zealand’s largest city. Other topics have included the Southern Alps, whales, and sharks. In addition, working principally as a natural history artist, he has illustrated over 70 books for other authors, designed three sets of New Zealand Post stamps and one set of American Post first day covers (featuring dinosaurs), and produced posters for several clients, including New Zealand Geographic magazine and the World Wildlife Fund.
Language spoken: English
Subject to withdrawal in case of force majeure
Important trip details
Boarding conditions and passenger travel abilities
We invite you to read our boarding conditions and passenger travel abilities by clicking here.
Any new reservation implies the acceptance of these conditions.
To guarantee your entry into one or several countries, you must ensure that you comply with the formalities and health requirements specific to each destination. In just a few clicks on our online search engine, find all the formalities you must complete prior to your departure (visas, entry authorisations for each country, vaccinations, etc.).
The international situation can change rapidly, so be sure to check this information regularly prior to your departure. However, please note that we always recommend our guests contact the relevant national immigration and customs and border control authorities directly to find out what rules apply to their specific situation. PONANT is not responsible for any decisions made by guests based on the information provided by the online search engine.
The information below is current but subject to change at any time without advance notice from government authorities. Please consult your respective government agencies for visa and health information.
Passport valid for at least six (6) months beyond the completion of your trip. Passport must contain at least two completely clear, blank, unused visa pages for each visa required, not including any amendment pages. Visa pages with stains or ink from other pages in the passport are not usable. Guests who deviate from the scheduled embarkation or disembarkation port should research the foreign entry requirements for the port country. Due to government regulations, regrettably, Ponant will have to deny boarding to any guest who fails to obtain the appropriate travel documentation for this trip.
New Zealand: U.S. citizens traveling to or transiting through New Zealand are required to have an NZeTA from the New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority. Apply online here: https://nzeta.immigration.govt.nz/.
U.S. citizens traveling to New Zealand must also fill out an online New Zealand Traveler Declaration: https://app.travellerdeclaration.govt.nz/#/.
If your NZeTA application is denied, you will need to apply for a visa. Visit the Embassy of New Zealand website for the most current visa information.
List of items prohibited on board
To guarantee the safety and well-being of our guests, certain items are strictly prohibited on board. Should you have one of these products or objects in your possession, they will be confiscated immediately and will not be transported on the ship. When an item transported aboard is considered illegal, the relevant authorities will be notified systematically.
Click here for the full list of items prohibited on board.
Warning about the use of drones: the use of drones aboard PONANT ships, whether they are sailing at sea, at a port of call or anchored, is strictly forbidden. The use of drones on land in the Arctic and Antarctic regions is also strictly forbidden by international polar regulations. In other regions, it may be possible to use drones on land if permission has been obtained from the relevant authorities of each country and each region travelled through, as well as a pilot’s licence that should be obtained from your home country. Passengers are responsible for obtaining these permits; they should be able to present them at all times. Passengers who do not obtain these authorisations expose themselves to the risk of legal proceedings.
Expedition programmes include activities such as zodiac outings and landings (sometimes with "wet landings"), moderate walks to more active hikes, all accompanied by your expedition team of naturalist guides.
Ports of call, visited sites, outings and landings will depend on weather conditions, winds and the state of the sea. These can force a change of plans at any time. The Captain and the Expedition Leader may at any time cancel or stop any activity, or even modify the itinerary. The final itinerary will be confirmed by the Captain, who will take into account the touristic quality of the sites and above all, the safety of the passengers. His decision will be based on advice from experts and authorities.
Travelling to isolated regions is an exhilarating experience. In remote areas, please remember that you are far from modern hospitals with full medical facilities, thus evacuation is extremely expensive. Without adequate medical coverage, all expenses will have to be immediately paid with your personal funds. We urge you to subscribe to full coverage insurance, choose your insurance company very carefully, be extremely vigilant and ensure your insurance is fully comprehensive, especially if you are insured by your credit card. PONANT offers an insurance contract with extensive guarantees, please contact us for more information.
During your visits to some local communities, all guests will be required to dress respectfully. Ladies must have their shoulders and thighs covered. Gentlemen should have their shoulders covered also.
Ideal clothes for life on board:
During the days spent on board, you are advised to wear comfortable clothes or casual outfits. The entire ship is air-conditioned, so a light sweater, a light jacket or a shawl may be necessary. When moving about in the public areas of the ship and the decks, light but comfortable shoes are recommended.
In the evening, you are advised to wear smart-casual attire, especially when dining in our restaurants where wearing shorts and tee-shirts is not allowed.
For all cruises longer than 8 nights, an Officer’s Evening with a white dress code may be organized. Therefore, we encourage you to bring a stylish white outfit for the occasion (otherwise black and white).
During the cruise, two gala evenings will be organised on board. Thus, we recommend that you bring one or two formal outfits.
A small shop is available on board offering a wide range of outfits, jewellery, leather goods and many accessories.
A laundry service (washing/ironing) is available on board, but unfortunately there are no dry cleaning services. For safety reasons, your cabin is not equipped with an iron.
OUTFITS ON BOARD:
In your hand luggage, remember to bring any medicines that you need, and possibly a small spare bag of toiletries (in case of delay in the delivery of your baggage by the airline). Remember to always have your travel documents with you in case you need them: hotel vouchers, cruise vouchers, return flight tickets... Never leave them in your hold luggage.
All our cabins have a safe. We recommend not to go ashore with valuable jewellery.
Smithsonian Journeys is the travel program of the Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest museum, education and research complex, consisting of 21 museums, the National Zoological Park, education centers, research facilities, cultural centers, and libraries. Drawing on Smithsonian's resources dating back 175 years, these sailings will feature notable experts and experiences that embrace local cultures and dive deeper into a destination’s history, cuisine, language, environment, and wildlife. For more than 50 years, Smithsonian Journeys has been rooted in and focused on cultural immersion and discovery – with a goal of inspiring guests to become global citizens through travel.
Subject to withdrawal in case of force majeure
Embarkation 15/2/2024 from 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Departure 15/2/2024 at 7:00 pm
Crowned with gentle green hills, Wellington Harbour is located in the far south of the North Island. This city offers a charming mix of traditional and modern cultures, bestowing on the New Zealand capital, a unique atmosphere, both friendly and avant-guard. Where some sites, like the large National Te Papa Tongarewa Museum, reflect the city’s Maori past, others, like the many cafés and restaurants, affirm the inhabitants’ incredible lust for life.
Located on the South Island of New Zealand, the small town of Kaikōura stretches between the South Pacific and the snow-capped Kaikōura mountain chain, in the heart of a natural and preserved environment that is home to rich and varied wildlife. The peninsular has spectacular limestone formations, and many marine mammals, such as whales, dolphins, seals and sea lions, as well as sea birds can be found near its shores. Initially populated by the original Maori inhabitants for almost a thousand years, the rocky coastlines of Kaikōura then served as an observation post for whalers between the 18th century and the beginning of the 20th century.
Located at the tip of a peninsula on the east coast of New Zealand's South Island, Akaroa is a popular resort destination, nestled in a cove formed by volcanic eruptions millions of years ago. In the mid-19th century, French and British settlers competed for control of the area, and the architecture of the present-day town reflects these colonial influences in the galleries, craft shops, and cafés that line its streets. But what draws most people to this remote area is the abundant wildlife. Hector dolphins (the world's smallest), Blue Penguins, fur seals, and Orcas populate the waters of the harbor, and the cliffs that surround the bay are nesting sites for thousands of birds.
During your journey at sea, make the most of the many services and activities on board. Treat yourself to a moment of relaxation in the spa or stay in shape in the fitness centre. Depending on the season, let yourself be tempted by the swimming pool or a spot of sunbathing. This journey without a port of call will also be an opportunity to enjoy the conferences or shows proposed on board, depending on the activities offered, or to do some shopping in the boutique or to meet the PONANT photographers in their dedicated space. As for lovers of the open sea, they will be able to visit the ship’s upper deck to admire the spectacle of the waves and perhaps be lucky enough to observe marine species. A truly enchanted interlude, combining comfort, rest and entertainment.
Dusky Sound is one of the most isolated fjords in Fiordland National Park. This huge, protected natural zone situated in the south-west quarter of New Zealand’s South Island is listed as UNESCO World Heritage. The sheer cliffs, waterfalls, shimmering lakes and primitive forests here are each more beautiful than the next. These spectacular landscapes sculpted by successive glaciations are a source of endless wonder. In 1773, the British navigator James Cook spent a few weeks at Dusky Sound, as demonstrated by a plaque that can be seen at Astronomer’s Point. During your sailing, observe the richness of the local wildlife: cormorants, seagulls, New Zealand fur seals, but also Fiordland crested penguins, a rare and endemic species. Weather and time permitting you may explore the Sound from our fleet of zodiac.
Referred to as the "Sound of Silence", there is a secluded serenity that surrounds Doubtful Sound in contrast with the better-known Milford Sound. Both are part of the Fiordland National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Lieutenant James Cook named 'Doubtful Harbour' in 1770 as he was uncertain if it was navigable under sail. Doubtful Sound is the deepest of the fiords with a maximum depth of 421 m. It contains three distinct 'arms' and several outstanding waterfalls in the area from Deep Cove to the open ocean. Your ship will spend time navigating around Secretary Island through both Thompson and Doubtful Sounds. You will enjoy the spectacular scenery from the outer decks.
Milford Sound fiord is among one of the most beautiful natural sites in New Zealand. So much beauty will quite simply take your breath away. Located on the south-west coast of South Island, in the Fiorldland National Park, this sumptuous inlet carved out by glaciers advances over at least 15 kilometres inland, in the Southern Alps. Majestic cliffs seem to surge out of the dark waters, rising several hundred metres high: an abrupt relief from where impressive waterfalls cascade.
Ulva Island (Te Wharawhara) is the largest of 20 islands within Paterson Inlet, Stewart Island, with an area of approx. 270 hectares. The island has never been logged and was declared pest free in 1997, becoming one of the few predator-free sanctuaries in New Zealand. The island is now a haven for many species of birds and plants that are rare, or have died out, on the mainland of New Zealand. Bird species regularly encountered include: the flightless Stewart Island Weka, South Island saddleback, yellowhead and Stewart Island robin. Ulva Island is not only a bird enthusiast’s paradise, it is also one of the few offshore islands with a largely undisturbed podocarp forest. Well-maintained tracks offer easy walking for most people providing a unique opportunity to see rare birds and plants at close quarters in a safe environment.
Arrival 22/2/2024 early morning
Disembarkation 22/2/2024 at 7:00 am
Dunedin is New Zealand's oldest city and is often referred to as the Edinburgh of New Zealand. This city of the south, wears its Scottish heritage with pride. The city contains some of the best preserved Victorian and Edwardian architecture in the Southern Hemisphere. The Silverpeaks hinterland to the North West provides a picturesque backdrop and The Otago Peninsula, which lies within the city boundaries, has internationally renowned wildlife reserves, including the only mainland breeding colony of Northern Royal Albatross.
Explore the planet’s most remote tropical regions during a PONANT expedition cruise. In the heart of Oceania’s archipelagos or the Indian Ocean atolls, along the wild coastlines of Central America or Australia, our luxury amenities and services will make your expedition cruise an unforgettable experience. Our expedition leaders and their teams of naturalist guides devise exceptional itineraries and organise daily outings, shore visits in Zodiac® dinghies, or snorkelling when the cruises are conducive to it, to take you as close as possible to nature. Aboard the ship, they share their knowledge during lectures on a variety of topics such as the fauna and flora, the history of the great explorations, geology and climatology. On land, using the local transport options or during hikes, discover the must-see natural sites and, for a few hours, partake in the life and ancestral customs of the local populations.
Your upcoming expedition along the eastern and southern coasts of New Zealand's South Island will be an experience of rugged fjords and unparalleled biodiversity—of wilderness and untamed nature. This pre-cruise program on the North Island offers a view of entirely different New Zealand—one of rolling hills and green pastures, of dairy farms and berry orchards. As you drive from Auckland to Wellington, roughly the distance from New York to Cleveland, you will enjoy the pastoral world of New Zealand farming, witness the geothermal fields around Rotorua, and participate in some of the cultural traditions of the indigenous Maori. This pre-trip extension is a perfect land-based complement to what awaits you aboard your ship in the south.
Day 1 – Auckland
Arrive at Auckland International Airport, where you will be met and transferred to the Park Hyatt Auckland hotel in the city's Wynyard Quarter, your home for the night. Relax and enjoy the amenities of the hotel before joining fellow travelers for a welcome cocktail reception in The Boathouse this evening. Dinner and the remainder of the day are at leisure.
Day 2 – Auckland | Rotorua
After breakfast at the hotel and check-out, board a luxury coach to begin your drive southward to Rotorua. After about two hours of travel through scenic rolling green hills and dense forests, pause for a tour of a working dairy farm, one of New Zealand's most important industries, and enjoy a typical country-style lunch of local produce. Following lunch, continue to Rotorua, a "Thermal Wonderland" of geysers, bubbling mud pools, and soothing hot springs, where you explore Waimangu Volcanic Valley, home to the intriguing Inferno Crater which rises and falls as it heats and cools.
Check-in to the Pullman Rotorua Hotel in late afternoon and prepare for the evening's activity: a Maori cultural experience in the ancient forest village at Tawa-ngahere-pa. The evening will include a traditional welcome ceremony, an immersive guided tour through a historic Maori Village, stunning cultural performances, and a feast cooked in a traditional Maori hangi (earth oven), a centuries-old cooking method perfect for feeding a group and bringing a community together.
Day 3 – Rotorua | New Plymouth
Today, your coach heads toward the west coast of North Island, stopping about mid-morning at the Waitomo Glowworm Caves. Here a boat specially designed for the purpose will take you deep into the caves where tiny worms, unique to New Zealand, radiate a fluorescent blue-green glow that illuminates the caves and underground streams that are their home.
A short drive brings you to nearby Crosshills Homestead, where the owners will serve a lunch made entirely on the premises from produce grown on local farms, including their own. After lunch and a stop for dessert at a berry orchard, drive through the Taranaki region of the country to the coastal city of New Plymouth, where you check-in to the King and Queen Hotel Suites in late afternoon. The balance of the day is at leisure for you to explore New Plymouth's waterfront and enjoy dinner on your own.
Day 4 - New Plymouth | Wellington
Breakfast is followed by a walk across the street to the permanent exhibit of the works of Len Lye in the Govett-Brewster Gallery, where one of the gallery's curators will introduce you to the work of this famed New Zealand artist. After the gallery tour, board your coach for the drive to Whanganui, pausing along the way at Pukekura park and at Parihaka, where the early Taranaki Maori Wars took place. In Whanganui, explore the Museum, famous for its Taonga Maori Collection, and enjoy lunch.
Continue your drive to Paekakariki, where a guide will lead you on a tour of the wetlands and Kahikatea remnant forest of Queen Elizabeth Park, before a stroll along the beach.
A final 45-minute drive along the coast overlooking the Cook Strait ends in Wellington, where you check in to the Sofitel for the night. Dinner is in the hotel and the evening is at leisure.
Day 5 - Wellington | Embark
Enjoy a morning at leisure before setting off on a 'foodie' tour of Wellington, during which you visit a craft brewery, sample good coffee and the best chocolates available in New Zealand's capital city. In the afternoon, transfer to the pier to embark Le Lapérouse.
Auckland’s new Park Hyatt, located in Wynyard Quarter and overlooking Waitemata Harbor, is a 5-star luxury hotel on the waterfront, just a short stroll from the city center. Its amenities include four restaurants and bars, elegant public spaces, a day spa, an infinity pool, and a fitness center.
The Pullman Rotorua Hotel, also a 5-star property, is located in the center of the city. With 130 rooms, a gym, restaurant and bar, it is the perfect base for exploring the geothermal phenomena of the region.
King and Queen Hotel Suites in New Plymouth is a 4-star hotel in the cultural center of the city. It is adjacent to the Len Lye Gallery and within a stone's throw of the city's finest restaurants, bars, cafes, and retail spots.
The Sofitel Wellington, located in the Parliament precinct of the capital city, is a 5-star hotel with an award-winning restaurant and La Serre Bar. Its luxury rooms and suites feature Sofitel MyBed and modern bathrooms with refined French amenities.
Your program includes:
Your program does not include:
Hotel contact information:
Park Hyatt Auckland
99 Halsey Street
+ 64 9 366 1234
1135 Arawa Street
+ 64 7 343 9750
King and Queen Hotel Suites
Corner of King and Queen Streets
New Plymouth 4310
+ 64 6 757 2999
11 Bolton Street
+ 64 4 472 2001
Total : €3,080