Best time to visit New Zealand

New Zealand Cruises

Get the ultimate "Lord of the Rings" experience while cruising along New Zealand

Best time: October–April (December, January, and February are peak months)

New Zealand Cruises
New Zealand Cruises
New Zealand Cruises
Milford Sound Cruising

If you’re going to New Zealand for the first time, cruising might be the perfect way to explore the huge country. You’ll be able to move along the 9,320 miles (15,000 km) of coastline, witnessing New Zealand’s breathtaking nature. Cruising around this country won’t give you the paradisal vibe, but you are surely guaranteed a “Lord of the Rings” ambiance and cozy memories.

About New Zealand

New Zealand is known as the land of fjords, glaciers, and waterfalls. The country has one of the world's most mystical characters, attracting millions of tourists each year. Visitors can sail along magnificent sweeping vistas, take Pinterest-like photos against rainbow-lit backdrops, get soaked by one of the many spectacular waterfalls, or get out of the ship and enjoy authentic local culture on the ground. You should also know that, roughly speaking, the country is divided into two parts: North Island and South Island. The North Island is very crowded, featuring millions of residents and the nation’s biggest cities, including the capital, Wellington. South Island has a rather chill vibe, offering wide spaces and expansive views of the fjords, geysers, mountains, and lakes. The South Island has all the fairytale conditions you think of when “cruising in New Zealand” comes to mind.

The best time to visit

When planning a trip to New Zealand, keep in mind that the winter and summer months are mixed up. For example, in the country, December through February are considered summer, and vice versa, winter falls on June through August. As for cruising through New Zealand’s waters, the best time to do it is during southern summer–in other words, in December, January, and February. Although the cruising season starts in October and ends in April, it is during New Zealand’s summer that temperatures are comfortable enough to stay outside (the average max temperature is 80°F). Keep in mind that it gets colder as you travel south of New Zealand, so if you’re scared of the cold, it might be a good idea to opt for tours to the North Island. In July, there is no cruising happening in the country.

Popular routes

Most New Zealand cruises depart from Australian ports, like Melbourne and Sydney. These voyages are usually roundtrips. However, there are also one-way options to Australia from Auckland or vice versa. The normal duration of the trip is around ten days, but you can go on a shorter adventure–about four days. Roundtrips normally include stops by the most famous New Zealand ports, such as Wellington, Tauranga, and Dunedin. If you go on a longer voyage, you’ll most likely stop by the Bay of Islands, Fiordland, Napier, and Picton. Cruises around New Zealand also include stops by Pacific Aria.

Practical info

When is the best time to go on a New Zealand Cruise?

New Zealand cruises are best enjoyed during southern summer, which is from December to February. The weather during these months is usually comfortable enough to stay outside, with an average max temperature of 80°F. To avoid the cold, choose tours to the North Island. It's important to know that cruises don't run in the country during July. Show more

What are the most popular ports to visit while on a New Zealand Cruise?

Wellington, Tauranga, Dunedin, Bay of Islands, Fiordland, Napier, and Picton are the most popular ports to visit during a New Zealand cruise. These ports offer cruisers unique natural landscapes like fjords, geysers, and mountains. Explorers can also immerse themselves in culture, tradition, and locally-sourced delicacies from the Maori people while hiking and trekking. Show more

Where do most New Zealand cruises depart from?

Australian ports, primarily Melbourne and Sydney, are the starting points for most New Zealand cruises. These cruises offer the most convenient roundtrip options, while there are also one-way trips to and from Auckland and Australia. The South Pacific Ocean offers breathtaking views that highlight the country's magical, fairytale landscapes. Show more

What are the differences between North Island and South Island for cruisers?

North Island offers a more bustling experience, with millions of residents and the country's largest cities, including Wellington, the capital. In contrast, South Island is relaxed and laid-back, offering vast spaces and exquisite views of fjords, geysers, mountains, and lakes. Cruisers can choose the island that best suits their preferences and interests when planning a New Zealand cruise. Show more

What is the average duration of a New Zealand cruise?

Cruises around New Zealand average about ten days in duration, although there are shorter options lasting around four days. Cruisers with more time and budget can opt for lengthy trips lasting up to a month, enabling them to explore more ports and make the most of the country's outstanding natural beauty. Ultimately, the duration of the cruise depends on the traveler's itinerary and budget constraints. Show more

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Last updated: by Nataliia Chaika